People in the real estate industry know that many potential home-buyers only look above their knees and below their eye level when inspecting a home. Despite the cost of today’s real estate, and the cost of rectifications, renovations and additions, most buyers don’t engage a professional for a pre-purchase inspection. The result is that when the sale has been made and the stylist’s furniture has been moved out, many new owners only really see their new home for the first time as it really is. This blog post will give you some guidelines to consider, however every home is different and the general information here may not be relevant to your home or situation.
For most newly purchased mid-century and post-war homes there is so much to do, so many ideas, and so little money. Over the years I have seen this situation countless times, and I strongly suggest that a pre-purchase inspection is the best investment you can make for your future prior to a purchase.
There’s a reason they invented the saying “Forewarned is forearmed”. If you know about something before it happens, you can be prepared for it. When moving into a new home “surprises” usually aren’t pleasant.
Long-term followers of Secret Design Studio’s blog may remember our blog posting “Mid-Century Modern Death Trap (Also known as the “Marriage Breaker”)” from May 2012.
There are a number of different types of businesses that that offer pre-purchase inspections. Some only cover the condition of the house from a builder’s perspective without any appreciation of its style, design, history, or potential for a sympathetic renovation. Despite the different perspectives from the various types of pre-purchase inspections they have a few things in common.
No pre-purchase inspector will tell you if you should buy, or should not buy a property. A pre-purchase inspection will simply provide more information on which you will base that important decision.
No pre-purchase inspector will inspect for pests, such as termites, as that is a different skill set – you need a pest inspector. Termite damage is hard to spot as termites eat from the inside of timber out, and they are very good at concealing their existence in hard-to-reach places. Naturally, if a pre-purchase inspector does see damage due to pests, you would expect that it would be brought to your attention.
Pre-purchase inspections are limited to a visual inspection of areas where safe and reasonable access is available. This means that inspections in the ceiling space, internal voids, sub-floor and roofs are excluded, due to the potential Occupational Health and Safety issues. It could be a difficult situation if a pre-purchase inspector, engaged by a potential buyer, fell through a ceiling, and damaged the vendor’s property.
A pre-purchase inspector cannot provide accurate costs for rectification, renovation and additions as there are too many unknown factors. The best they can provide may be a rough and approximate estimate based on their visual inspection.
Finally, no pre-purchase inspector can advise on price or value of real estate, as the potential buyer needs to do their own research. Many mid-century homes in good suburbs are sold for the value of the land, so this means that it is possible to work out how much a developer may pay based on the value by the square metre for similar properties in the area that have recently sold. There are real estate specialists and valuers who can provide this service, but it does get tricky if the property is unique, and has heritage value.
A pre-purchase inspection can be invaluable to arm you with knowledge about potential issues and approximate costs before placing your winning bid at auction, or to inform your negotiation for a cheaper price when dealing with an agent.
If the property isn’t going to auction, you can make your offer subject to a satisfactory pre-purchase and pest inspection. The special condition is added into the contract, after you have sourced your own legal advice, and it gives a timeframe to organise the inspection(s). If the pre-purchase (or pest) inspection identifies substantial issues with the property, you may be able to terminate the contract, and get your deposit back. However, it is important that you seek appropriate legal advice about the strategies and wording of this special condition. Don’t just let the vendor’s agent add it in, as they will always be acting in the vendor’s, not the purchaser’s interest.
If the property is going to auction then your only option is to do the inspections(s) prior to making your bid, as an auction contract cannot be subject to special conditions after the auction. If you are prepared to make a generous offer well prior to an auction the vendor may be flexible in allowing a “subject to inspection” clause.
Information is power in real estate negotiations, especially if it relates to items above your eye level, and below your knees. A small investment in a pre-purchase inspection can pay huge financial dividends if you are prone to follow your heart, rather than your head when purchasing a mid-century, or post-war home.
If you need a pre-purchase inspection, a post-purchase consultation, a pre-renovation consultation, or a mid-century colour consultation then please fill out an enquiry form here:
or phone Dr Retro on 0448 579 707.
If this blog is too late for you and you have just bought a mid-century or post-war home without a pre-purchase inspection then you should read blog post: