Open Home Checklist For Prospective Buyers

June 10 2021

"A lot of Australians spend the next few decades paying off their home loan, so you better be sure the property is suitable when going in for a house inspection." - Ben Crow, Chief Operating Officer

Prospective property buyers rarely have more than 30 minutes to inspect a place they could potentially spend the next 30 years paying off.

So what should you be looking for during an open home to make the most of that time?

Brisbane real estate agent Jamal Naouri said it was pretty much impossible to check everything during the half-hour window. 

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"[During] the first open home, you really want to know whether this home is for you," Mr Naouri told ABC Radio Brisbane.

Mr Naouri said the first inspection should be focused on the property's layout and renovation potential.

"See if the kitchen runs to the deck or opens onto the backyard," he said.

"Have a look at the bathrooms — are they renovated?

"How big are the rooms? 

"How big is the backyard? Is there a garage? Is there a carport? "If this home ticks 90 per cent of your boxes … book a second inspection." 

Mr Naouri also said there was no harm in arriving a few minutes earlier to open homes, before the property was swarmed by other buyers.

Nosing around

When it comes to checking inside cupboards or sizing up the shower, Mr Naouri says "go for it".

But he recommended waiting until the second inspection to do so.

"When you open the dishwasher and it's very dirty or there is oil or it's smelly, that means it's not working and you need to ask questions," he said.

"Turn the tap on and you should notice the pressure of the water.

"If the pressure is low ... that means there is a plumbing issue.

"Is it town gas or bottled gas?"

Through the cracks

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) said prospective buyers should keep an eye out for any significant interior or exterior cracks.

"[Look for] any obvious signs of water leaks, dampness or mould, and any major sticking or inoperable windows or doors," a spokesperson said.

"It's also good to check that the lights all operate, the taps run and water in the shower and basins escape efficiently down the drains."

The spokesperson said it was also worthwhile to check the meter box or the inside of the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

"This is where the termite inspectors should have placed a sticker at their last inspection," they said.

Things people forget

Mr Naouri said while storage was always very important to buyers, it was often something that got overlooked during the inspection as was access to the backyard.

"Can you get to the backyard with a small truck or car for landscaping purposes?" he said.

Mr Naouri said people also forgot to check whether there were internal stairs to garages or between parts of the house.

"If there are no internal stairs, it's really hard to install internal stairs," he said. "You basically have to remodel the whole house."

He said the second inspection was the best time to thoroughly check the details and recommended booking the additional viewing for a different time of day, to see what the lighting, noise and traffic were like.

He also recommended driving past in the evenings as well.

The QBCC said anyone looking to make an offer on a property should always engage licensed contractors to undertake pre-purchase building and pest inspections.

"This provides prospective purchasers with knowledge around the general condition of the house, and any likely immediate works that may be required to rectify major defects identified," the spokesperson said.

"While it's usually done by a solicitor once a home is under contract, for a small fee a prospective purchaser may wish to contact the QBCC and have a report completed on the property to see if any recent building work has been undertaken or if the home is still covered under the Home Warranty Insurance Scheme."

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Source: ABC

Seselja, E., Feeney, K., & Leake, J. E. (2021, May 19). You only get 30 minutes to inspect a house you'll have to pay off for the next 30 years. Here are the things to look for. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).