Red Flags: What to look for when inspecting a property


When emotions are running high it’s easy to overlook obvious issues relating to a property when you are keen to proceed to a purchase. Placing furniture, planning bedroom layouts, imagining how you will cook in the kitchen and thinking about the first BBQ in the garden with family and friends all overshadows looking for future problems that can often arise and cause a great deal of angst, not to mention unavoidable and often excessive costs.

The best advice I can give in this area starts with doing a second inspection! I always advise buyers, where possible or allowed due to privacy reasons, to take as many pictures as possible of a home they are interested in and then to look over these photos several times. If there is still interest then arrange that second inspection.

Now the second inspection, and potentially a third, can occur in two ways.

  1. You can go along with someone who has experience in home buying.
  2. You can take a family friend.

Both will come up with issues that you will need to allow for.

In my experience, these ‘experts’ (for want of a better word) will point out everything they feel is wrong with the home as they also become emotionally attached in that they often become concerned that their reputations are on the line. It is important to hear them out, but you should keep in mind that the advice is often too detailed – you will easily note the difference! In the past when I showed home buyers through a property with ‘Uncle Louie’ he would often find so many issues that a decision to buy was never made – this can be dangerous as you need to remember that Uncle Louie does not want to be responsible should anything go wrong so he will always point out every reason not to buy!

Obviously, you should arrange for a full building report on a property, however before this occurs my detailed view of a property starts with the third inspection and one I would do without the ‘experts’ in attendance. I have listed several items below that I look for when doing a ‘final’ inspection before committing to a property purchase.

Where possible, inspect the property on a rainy day. It’s amazing how different things can be when inspecting a property while the rain is coming down. You will see much more during this time than the ‘special’ presentation arranged by the Agent and the Stylists on the actual open home days.

Other tips:

  • Randomly check lighting.
  • Flush the toilet.
  • Quickly turn the shower on to check the water pressure.
  • Now this one may seem strange but sit on the toilet seat for a few moments with the door closed and look up and around the walls and door jams. If there is movement in the property you will see it here.
  • Do the smell test in each room. Take in a deep breath and any anomalies, water, mould etc will be picked up.
  • Pay close attention to the kitchen, particularly around the sink, whilst looking for any water or plumbing issues. Plumbing and electrical work can be awfully expensive.
  • Check any heating or cooling systems thoroughly that are on offer.
  • Open and close windows.

A recent inspection I did with my daughter, after she found a home she was interested in, showed up several issues. Every window in the home was open, curtains were drawn, and everything was set for a lovely experience. I decided to use the opportunity to try and close a couple of windows and you guessed it, the chains on every window I tried did not work. In addition to this I took the opportunity to look closely at the painting on each wall as the sun was shining nicely into the home and every wall had several paint patches and it was only afterwards we discovered that the renovation on the home was done by the owners.




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