Five things sellers hide at open homes

May 09, 2016
Ali Batten

Open homes are a chance for buyers to look through a property to see if it is suitable for them and their lifestyle. But unfortunately, some sellers may find it in their best interest to hide the unsavoury features in their home – in order to sell it easier.
Buyers should look around open homes to get an idea of how they feel about the property, but they should also aim to look for “deal breakers” upfront. Remember to ask the real estate agent about anything you are uncertain about and be prepared to seek the services of a building and pest inspector as you undertake your due diligence.
Here are five things you should especially be aware of when looking at an open home.

1) Termite damage
When you’re in a property that has been freshly repainted, look very carefully. Painting is the biggest giveaway, especially when one or two rooms in the property have been repainted recently. This could be concealing a repaired termite-damaged wall or water-leakage problems from a ceiling.
Be sure to get a thorough building inspection, including a termite inspection with thermal imaging, to make sure you can see beyond the new coat of colour. Key things to be on the lookout for are “bubbling” and “staining” on the new paint – get your building inspector to use moisture meters to know what’s happening for sure.

2) Structural damage
A big red flag should be raised when you are denied access to an area of the house. We’ve noticed that, clutter aside, sellers who have something to hide will block [or] lock access to manholes, sub-floor spaces and under-house areas to avoid inspectors being able to accurately report on any issues here.
These issues can be wide-ranging, from pest damage and structural damage to drainage issues and poor DIY attempts. Ask the vendor to make these areas available for your inspector and attend yourself if possible.

3) Rising damp
Dampness and leaking problems usually leave a nasty mildew-type musty smell and buyers will be able to pick up on this straightaway. Rising damp, dry rot, leaking roofs and rotting stumps often present symptoms that the unscrupulous vendor will try to hide.
“Brewing coffee or baking bread is often touted as a way to make a property seem homely, but the motivation may be more malign – to perfume damp smells.

4) Poky spaces
Some rooms are so small as to be unusable, but that won’t stop sellers from trying to convince you otherwise. Clever styling and furnishings can trick a naive buyer into thinking a space is larger than it is very quickly.
There’s a big difference between “perceived” space and actual space available. Instead, look at the square metres listed or on the floor plan and compare how it stacks up with similar properties you have seen.

5) Noise and natural light issues
Natural light and noise issues are hard to fix in a home so they’re not looked upon favourably by buyers.
Unsurprisingly, sellers want to make their home seem as quiet, well positioned and brightly lit as possible. Vendors try to hide poor outlooks by keeping blinds down or switch on every light in the hope you don’t notice the poor natural light.
Don’t be afraid to open the blinds to take another look and, while you’re there, ask to open the windows. Sellers may be minimising the noise from next door by keeping them shut and playing music, he said.
The noise issue may also be affected by the time of day of an open home – take note of the time of the open for inspection. Particularly for buyers that are not local to the area, this is something that can mislead the ill-informed. Vendors attempt to sell a certain lifestyle by placing their opens at certain times of the day when traffic is less congested and the area is more quiet.
Visit the area multiple times at different times of the day and the week to get a more accurate picture of what it would be like to live in the home.

Contact either Owun, Suzanne or Costa on 02 9517 1818 or to discuss your options. Or, if you feel like dropping in at our office, we are located at Suite 106, Flourmill Studios, 3 Gladstone Street, Newtown 2042. Be sure to share our blog on Facebook and Twitter and let others join the conversation! 

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