With new technology making it easier than ever before for home buyers and investors to research property, buyer’s advocates say there are hidden flaws that require an experienced eye and an expert inspection to avoid costly mistakes.
Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) vice-president Cate Bakos said many unsuspecting buyers fell victim to ‘cover-ups’ by owners to hide significant building issues including switchboards without upgraded safety switches, damp smells, rising damp, blistering and cracking external bricks and bouncy flooring.
Ms Bakos said the cost of correcting an unlevel floor could range from anywhere between $3,000 and $20,000.
“Correcting brick walls and foundations is generally far more costly than restumping a timber house, particularly if localised stump replacement is an option,” she said.
“A qualified building inspector will shed light on the options to fix, but it is fair to say that we avoid any brick apartment blocks that have engineers reports or mentions of special levies.”
Ms Bakos said banks often rejected zoning types that were outside of the policy conditions on a residential purchase. Examples include commercial, industrial and rural zonings.
“A hint on a commercial dwelling may be proximity or position on or above shops usually in a busy high street location,” she said.
“This invisible red flag can be identified with a quick zoning check on a land portal.”
HARD TO SEE
According to Ms Bakos, bad neighbours, noisy households and the general feeling of an ‘unsafe environment’ were common flaws that were impossible to detect on an online portal.
“There are some hints however that the neighbourhood is not the most desirable,” she said.
“Tyre marks on residential streets, sneakers hanging on power lines, neighbouring houses with long grass and defective cars out the front are all signs of a less-than-pleasant neighbourhood.
“Bad smells emanating from nearby disposal tips or factories may also not be apparent on first inspection if the wind is blowing the wrong way.
“Another virtual distortion is the way online photos are presented in line with wide angle shots which may make some rooms appear much larger than in reality.”
USE A BUYERS AGENT
Ms Bakos recommended buyers search carefully and ask important questions to save wasted hours and costly mistakes.
“Engaging a buyer’s agent adds yet another layer of protection by analysing the data, negotiating for the purchaser and protecting them from making an emotional decision rather than an informed one,” she said.
“It might seem like you’re saving money by not engaging a professional but it could be far more costly in the long run if you buy an unsuitable property.”
Cate Bakos is vice president of REBAA, the professional organisation for property buyers agents.