It's a no brainer that when the vast majority of homes are listed for sale the owner will present the property in its best possible light. That can mean flaws are disguised or covered up while the home's best features are emphasised.
The trick for you as a buyer is to inspect the place thoroughly. Any issues you uncover could potentially be used as a bargaining tool in your price negotiations. Or, if the problems are major, it could be time to walk away and scratch that particular property from your wish list.
Check the contract of sale
Start by having a clear idea of regular costs like rates or strata levies, which should be listed in the contract of sale. You cannot control these expenses but they do need to be factored in your household budget.
The sales contract will also itemise any fixtures and fittings that are included in the sale. Appliances like stoves and air conditioners should be turned on to see they are in good condition.
Check out any security systems too. Alarms, deadlocks and even window locks can all mean lower premiums on your home and contents insurance. Test the security features too to see if they are in working order.
Watch for damp or plumbing issues
As you move around the property look for signs of damp like bubbling paint or visible mould. Damp problems can often be fixed (though sometimes at considerable expense) however it can create an unhealthy living environment.
Make a note to turn on the taps in the laundry, kitchen and bathroom. Poor water pressure can be frustrating to live with. On the other hand, ‘water hammer' - a banging or vibrating sound in the pipes, indicates trapped air and can often be easily sorted.
Consider a professional inspection
To help you cast a critical eye over any property you're planning to buy, Mortgage Choice has prepared a free property checklist. Download it and take a copy with you to property inspections to be sure you have covered all bases.
It's also worth arranging a professional pest and building inspection. Many areas of modern homes – like footings and roof cavities, can be difficult to access, yet these can be the places where serious faults show up.
Your Mortgage Choice broker can advise on how to arrange a pre-purchase inspection.