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If you are in the market for a new property, chances are you will be spending a lot of time at open for inspections, and with only 30-minutes on average to view the house; you want to make sure you are getting as much information as you can. But before the open home even begins, you can find out a lot about a property, so arrive early to get the lay of the land.
Before the open for inspection even begins, check out the neighbourhood
You are buying into the area as much as you are purchasing the property. Generally speaking, if there are issues with the property, you can fix it, but you can’t change the location of the property. Research the neighbourhood, what external noises may affect your purchasing decision? Is there a freeway nearby or are you on a flight path? What is the parking situation? Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day to help you gauge the traffic noise.
Drop into the local council and find out if there are any developments planned nearby? What are the zoning areas around the property and are there any plans for these to change? If you plan to renovate or do a knock-down rebuild, are there any council restrictions on what you can do.
What to look for at open for inspections
If you’re not experienced in real estate, take someone with you who is. Have a checklist of all the things you need to look for handy and take plenty of pictures as a reference point for later. At the property, try not to get caught up in the aesthetics of the home. Making superficial changes is easy. You want to focus on the home’s overall structure and the rooms that are costly to renovate – the kitchen and bathroom. Look for signs of water damage and dampness, inside and out, and cracks in the wall – these can be very costly issues to fix. And don’t be afraid to open cabinets, pull back curtains, look beneath rugs and behind furniture for any sign of structural damage.
Note what direction the property faces and how much natural light the property gets and in which rooms. How much storage is there throughout the home, and do all the windows open correctly? Externally, pay close attention to cracks on the walls, and whether the gutters and drain pipes are in good condition. Inside and out, look at how near the neighbours are and how their proximity may affect your privacy, whether it be in the yard or looking into particular rooms. Finally, does the property have off-street parking and if so, how accessible is it and for how many cars? If there is no off-street parking, what is the on-street parking like?
There is a lot to look for in a short timeframe, but remember, take your time, and don’t feel hurried or deterred by other potential buyers.
Have a list of questions ready with everything you want to ask. Arrive a little early and leave later than everyone else, making yourself known to the sales agent. When the sales agent is engaging with other potential buyers, listen to the questions being asked and what their responses are as others may pick up on things that you may not of.
Ask the sales agent how long the property has been on the market, whether they have inspection reports available and has there been any offers made on the property. The reports will give you a good understanding of the current market condition and interest in the property. Another question that is good to ask, but the sales agent could refrain from answering, is the reason why the vendor wants to sell. Knowing this could give you some leverage during the negotiating phase. It’s also worth finding out the history of the property, how long has the vendor owned the property and who owned it before them. If the property has a storied past, this is something many potential buyers would want to be aware of before purchasing the property.
Finally, speak to the sales agent about what is and isn’t included in the sale of the property, such as appliances, curtains, light fittings, garden sheds, outdoor shade, cubby houses and so on.
Get as much information as you can from the sales agent and go back for as many open for inspections as you like, or request a private viewing. Don’t feel hurried by the process, take your time and equip yourself with as much information as possible, after all, this is one of life’s most significant investments.