Property Investing

How To Inspect A Property Before Buying

Published 20th October 2021Updated 6th April 2023

Inspecting a property

So you’re in the process of buying a house - that’s great news! Buying a house is quite a journey, with lots of nuts and bolts to consider. 

Sometimes, enthusiastic first-time buyers get carried away and fall in love with a home, without really making sure it’s the right fit for them. They end up with a lot of money and time wasted, not to mention a broken heart. Their mistake is not making the most of property inspections. That’s why we’ve created this guide to help you get your inspections sorted.

Did you know that there are different types of inspections that you can undertake for a house and that these inspections occur at different stages of the buying process? 

In this guide, we’ve broken down the different types of inspections you can have for a property and when to have them. You’ll also find a handy inspections checklist on how to inspect a property before buying and what to look for when inspecting a house.

What are the types of house inspections?

Buying a home often involves a lot of money and if you’re buying a property to lease, you want to make sure it’s worth the investment. 

Australians know that inspections can protect them from signing off their savings on a dud deal - that’s why they search house inspections 1600 times a month on average. They want to get it right.

Before buying a home, an inspection entails attending the property and sussing out what it has to offer, where it needs improvement, and if it’ll prove a worthy long term investment or not. 

When it comes to how you inspect a property before buying, not all inspections are identical. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different inspections you can employ before you seal the deal on a house:

  • Personal inspection: This is when you attend an open home or book an inspection with the agent to assess the house yourself. Oftentimes, other potential buyers are present at these inspections and attendance for these inspections has increased by 14% in Sydney, year on year.
  • Building inspection: A pre-purchase building inspection will capture what you might miss at an open house. In Sydney, these reports have increased by 30% over the last year. Think of things like damaged pipes, structural integrity, termites and Asbestos inspection.
  • Surveyor’s report: if you want to know how big the lot is and where the borders are before you purchase a property, a surveyor’s report is the way to go.
  • Outdoor inspections: consider a pest inspection to assess the property for pests and pest damage and ensure compliance by getting a pool inspection. 
  • Pre-settlement inspection: this is a last-minute inspection you can have before you make the final payments for a property, for peace of mind that everything is how you find it in your initial inspection.

Why is it a good idea to have a Pre Settlement inspection?

Pre-settlement inspections are an important safety net for home buyers. They’re a bit like the final cross-checks aircraft cabin crew will do right before take-off. 

Pre-settlement inspections are there so you can make sure that nothing has changed to a property during the period of contract preparation to buy a property and the final payment - aka, no dodgy business!

Contract preparation isn’t an overnight process and can sometimes take up to 90 days - that’s a long time! So, there’s really no guarantee that the property won’t get damaged, or that something just flew under the radar at the previous inspections.

Try to log in to your pre-settlement inspection a week before settlement. If you do happen to find new damage that wasn’t there before, the onus is on the owner to get it fixed before you send over the final payment.

Don’t forget to check the rules for your state before you book a pre-settlement inspection because the rules differ from state to state!

What to look out for at your next property inspection?

To make it easier for you to know what to expect from different types of inspections, we’ve broken this section down into 3 categories and have created separate house inspection checklists

  1. Business considerations
  2. Professional Inspections
  3. Personal inspections

These categories will clarify what you’ll be able to observe on your own and when professional inspections come into play.

Is the property good for business?

We’ve said it a million times, but we’ll say it again: an investment property is like a business, and you should treat it that way

So before you take that giant leap of faith, assess the property for the following:

  • Location: what kind of neighbourhood is the property located in and what kind of tenant would it suit? Is it close to public transport?
  • Environmental factors: consider environmental factors like bushfires and flood zones
  • Vacancies: what are the vacancy rates of the property like?
  • Gearing: is the property positively or negatively geared?

Answering these questions will highlight how good of a business venture this property will be for you. If vacancy rates are currently higher than you’d like, investigate further, it is a good idea to make a house inspection checklist of sorts to keep you on top of things. Don’t settle until you’re satisfied with the result.

What are professional house inspections?

Professional inspections include builder inspections as well as pool and termite inspections. Professional inspections will help you determine the house’s status on:

Here are some common professional house inspections will look into

Personal house inspections that will help you make the right decision

Personal inspections of houses are when you get busy.

The first opportunity to inspect a house is usually during an open home. This is a chance to get a first impression of the house. If you like what you see, it’s a good idea to schedule another inspection with the agent.

During the second inspection, don’t worry about appearances much - i.e, ask the owners and then don’t hesitate to open a cupboard or two, ask to inspect the bathrooms closely and check out the dishwasher. 

Here’s more of what to look for when inspecting a house to buy:
  • Aspect of the property, and how much light it will get
  • Mould (ceiling, cabinets in wet areas, bedrooms and bathrooms)
  • Cracks in walls, including internal wall plastering
  • Water pressure in all taps and showers - it’s not a good sign if pressure is low
  • Hinges and locks on doors and windows, and how smooth it is to open them
  • Electrical systems, light switches
  • HVAC systems, fireplace and smoke alarms
  • Dishwasher status (new/old, clean/dirty)
  • Working tap drains (and are free from hair loss)

Property inspections are an important step in figuring out if a house is the right one for you and letting you know before you commit if it needs any TLC. You might be ok with sprucing a property up a bit to increase its value, but you don’t want the heartache of too many unexpected surprises.

So don’t hesitate to book more than one inspection for that extra peace of mind. It’s always a great idea for an additional pair of eyes to inspect a house with you so invite someone you trust to tag along with you for inspections. 

Like what you just read? Well, there’s a lot more where that came from

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