With open for inspections back in play across Victoria - you may be wondering how you can make the most of your time at a property - especially given the restricted inspection window.
Under current restrictions, Victorians can only attend private, appointment-only open for inspections that go for no more than 15 minutes and are less than 25kms from their homes.
Although there are plenty of digital options to get to know a property from afar, an open for inspection is a valuable step in the buyers' journey. Not only does walking through the house give a great sense of livability, the open for inspection is also an opportunity to address all the functional and physical considerations of a property and help you to decide whether a property is worth your investment.
To ensure you are prepared for a quick visit when it comes to inspection day, Belle Property and Hockingstuart CEO, Peter Hanscomb shares his five top things to consider at your next open for inspection.
Although it’s best to leave building and pest inspections up to the experts, it is important to pay attention and look out for any defects on inspection day.
It can be tempting to take in home styling and lifestyle alone, but the best thing you can do is look beyond the aesthetics to the structural quality. Be sure to look out for any large cracks in brickwork, sagging ceilings, damage to flooring, roof condition or any presentation of mould.
“Most properties will have building and condition reports as well as pest inspections prepared by a qualified professional but if they don’t, organise an assessment of the property yourself. In the end, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind,” adds Peter.
Surfaces and finishes
As well as any building defects, consider the surfaces and finished of the property. The age, quality, and thickness of household materials are difficult to ascertain without being physically onsite.
If there are wooden floorboards, walk through the house to understand where there are creaks or floorboards rising. Thoroughly inspect the kitchen benches, bathroom tiling, and taps or faucets as well to check their condition and whether any upgrades may be required after purchasing.
It is also a good idea to understand how thick the windows are and if they rattle or let wind in. If you’re near a busy road, ensure the windows are double glazed and block out external noise.
“While you shouldn’t turn down your dream home on the basis of a creaky floorboard, it’s important to understand what additional upgrade costs may be required, on top of the sales price of the home, and how that fits into your budget” says Peter.
As well as the layout of a property, having natural light comes with lots of benefits and is often a feature that many homebuyers forget to consider.
When visiting the property, notice which way the property is facing and how windows are positioned to help or hinder lighting effects. If the light source at a particular time is of importance to you – say a bedroom with morning light – consider scheduling your appointment to coincide with that period.
Most newer homes are now built with orientation in mind and will often be built in a way that assists in efficient lighting, heating and cooling throughout the year.
“The right natural lighting can assist in lowering power bills as well as being proven to help in mental wellbeing of the residents,” says Peter.
Whether you drive a car, a motorcycle or opt to use public transport, a private car space can be an advantageous addition when looking for a property.
According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV), there was $90,000 to $100,000 price difference between a Melbourne apartment with a parking space and one without. However, a car spot is redundant if your vehicles do not fit. Particularly with larger family-sized cars, the roof height or the width can be an obstacle to utilising the space.
If you are not lucky enough to snag a property with off street parking, make sure to check on street parking when attending the open for inspection. Notice whether there is all day parking available, or, if you are in a major city, whether you will need to apply for a residential parking permit.
As it is said again and again ‘location, location, location’, your properties location within a suburb can mean the world of difference when it comes to day-to-day living.
“You may have done hours of research and know the suburb features and lifestyle like the back of your hand, but it’s only when there that you notice your ‘dream home’ has a barking dog next door or the traffic along your road is loud,” says Peter.
When visiting the property, get to know the street that the property is on and take in if there are any main roads, developments or commercial areas that may affect both the livability of the property and potential resale in the future.
As a last piece of advice for someone attending open for inspections, Peter adds, ‘One of the silver linings of this inspection arrangement is securing an uninterrupted 15-minute window with the real estate agent on site.'
'While you should use the time in the property to give the home a thorough inspection, be sure to also strike up a relationship with the agent and grab their contact details before you leave the property. Instead of spending time asking questions during the inspection, write them down in your phone and collate them in an email following the visit.’