Essential considerations at quick open for inspections
Although there are plenty of digital options to get to know a property from afar, an open for inspection is a valuable part of the buying journey which allows you to see a home in person and decide whether it is truly worth your investment.
However, if you have shortlisted several properties, they will often have back-to-back or overlapping inspection times, leading to rushed visits and the risk of missing crucial details.
To help you make the most of your time in a home, however brief, here are some essential considerations at quick open for inspections.
Check the condition of the building
While it can be easy to be seduced by a home’s presentation and lifestyle benefits, you also need to look beyond aesthetics and pay close attention to the overall condition of the building.
Although it’s best to leave building and pest inspections up to the experts, while at the inspection it is important to look out for any defects such as cracks in the walls or brickwork, sagging ceilings, damage to flooring, condition of the roof, and evidence of any mould or water intrusion.
“Depending which state you are in, some properties may already have had building and pest reports prepared by a qualified professional. If they don’t, organise one yourself, as the cost of an inspection is a small price to pay for peace of mind,” counsels Belle Property Head of Network Growth, Nick Boyd.
Finishes, fixtures and fittings
As well as any building defects consider the age, quality, and condition of the property’s finishes, fixtures and fittings. Take note of its paintwork, windows, flooring, kitchen benches, bathroom tiling, showers, taps and faucets to see if any upgrades or repairs are required.
If there are wooden floorboards, check where they creak or are uneven. What is the interior and exterior paintwork like? While a relatively simple upgrade, painting a property’s entire interior can be costly and inconvenient, and if a full exterior repaint is needed you could be up for an even heftier bill.
It is also a good idea to understand how thick the windows are and if they rattle or let the wind in. If you’re near a busy road, check whether the windows are double-glazed which can help block out external noise.
“While you shouldn’t turn down your dream home because it needs a lick of paint or has creaky floorboards, 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 Nick.
Don’t forget about a home’s lighting, as good natural lighting provides several benefits including lower power bills while being proven to improve residents’ wellbeing.
Pay attention to window positioning to check if it helps or hinders the entry of light. If having light in particular rooms at certain times of day is important to you – such as a bedroom or living room with morning light – consider scheduling an inspection at that period.
Heating and cooling
With the costs of power rising steeply in recent times, it is prudent to check how efficiently a home is heated and cooled to avoid bill shock as its owner. What types of systems are installed – if any? Reverse-cycle air-conditioning is considered one of the most energy-efficient systems these days. Also ask about insulation which can make a big difference to energy efficiency and keep power bills low.
Take note of a home’s layout and orientation. Are there large open-plan spaces which can mean higher bills or can rooms be closed off to reduce energy costs?
North-facing homes are ideal because they maximise sunlight and warmth in winter while keeping the interior cooler in summer. South-facing homes tend to be cooler year-round: great in summer but less so in winter. Be cautious of properties facing east or west, as they may be comfortable in winter but are prone to excessive heat in summer.
Additional features such as verandahs, vergola roofs, and external shutters play a crucial role in shielding a property from the intense summer sun. Vergola roofs are also useful in winter when they can be opened to allow the entry of sunlight for warmth.
Is it at risk of bushfire or flooding?
With the Australian climate prone to extreme weather in many parts of the country, check if the property is in an area at risk of bushfire or flood – ask your conveyancer if you need help finding this information. While it would obviously be devastating if the property experienced a bushfire or flood, it is also worth bearing in mind renovations to such properties can be more costly than normal, and potentially attract higher insurance premiums.
Whether you drive a car, motorbike or use public transport, a parking space can be an advantageous addition when looking for a property.
In some areas there can be a significant price difference between properties with a parking space and those without, but a car spot is redundant if your vehicle does not fit. Always check the dimensions of a parking space or garage to ensure it can accommodate your vehicle, especially if it is an older-style property or you have a larger-than-average vehicle.
If a property is in a built-up area without off-street parking, be sure to check the availability of on-street parking and whether a parking permit is required.
The adage ‘location, location, location’ may sound cliched, but it really does ring true when it comes to buying – with a property’s location making a world of difference when it comes to the realities of 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 Nick.
When visiting the property, get to know the street it is on and take note of surrounding main roads, developments or commercial areas that may affect both its livability and potential resale value in the future.
As a last piece of advice for someone attending open for inspections, Nick adds, “While you should use your time in the property to inspect it thoroughly, this is also your opportunity to connect with the sales agent. Ask them your questions about the property if it’s not too busy, but if there are hordes of other buyers in attendance it might be better to send an email afterwards, so they have the time to give you a more detailed response.”