When you’re about to begin the search for your dream home, you’re likely fantasising about all the incredible properties out on the market that were practically made for you and fate itself won’t stop you from finding your perfect home. You’re not likely thinking about the problem homes. The properties that are just waiting for someone to move in before they collapse, piece by piece. 

If you’re looking for tips for buying a house, this is the perfect place to start. Steps to buying a house: 1. Don’t buy a lemon…

It’s probably not the first thing on your mind when you’re filled with the excitement of hunting down your forever home, but it should be. It doesn’t matter if you’re hoping to buy a house in Melbourne, Hobart, or Ulaanbaatar, the same principles apply worldwide. S take heed of these warning signs so you can avoid making potentially one of the most costly mistakes of your life:

Questionable construction

This really does go without saying but is also not always something you can notice at first glance, which is often all you have at a house inspection. I mean sure, there are definitely obvious building defects that you wouldn’t miss like the roof caving in or a giant hole in the wall…unless you were in serious denial that is. However, more often than not, structural and cosmetic damage is very well hidden, until that fateful day when the rain comes, or your dad who worked in construction comes round for a visit, or Sally the electrician from next door drops by for a coffee… this is when the awful truth comes out.

The moral of the story here, it’s ALWAYS going to be in your favour to get a building inspection before you commit to buying any property. No matter how much you might be in love, we all have secrets hidden away somewhere, it’s just that some houses have more than others.

How long has the house been up for sale?

The length of time that a property has been on the market can be a very telling sign, but also one that many people don’t bother checking. It’s worth getting the full story of how long the house has been up for sale and whether or not it has been listed through other real estate agencies. If the house has been for sale for a significant period of time through multiple agencies, you can bet that there’s a good reason for it. Unless you’re keen on doing more research and perhaps getting a pre-purchase house inspection, I’d back away slowly if I were you.

Empty lot next door

This is definitely one to look out for. If you go to a home inspection only to find an enormous plot of vacant land next door or over the road then that should ring some warning bells. Although not an issue in and of itself, an empty lot may be the beginning of many, many months of construction and a resulting eye-sore of a building blocking your entire view of the sky above. Not only would construction be a serious pain in the backside to live with, you might also see the value of the property decline if it ends up being situated next door to a busy shopping complex or fertilizer factory… hey, anything can happen when it comes to real estate.

So just do a bit of research and check if the local council has any construction planned in the near future. It could save you from getting stuck between a giant parking lot and hard place.   

Struggling to get an inspection?

This one’s a little more tricky since not everything goes smoothly all the time. However, if you’re finding it difficult to set up a time to see the property then have a think about why that might actually be the case. What is going on over on their end that they’re not welcoming every opportunity possible for a potential buyer to come take a look? At the end of the day, if something seems suspicious, it very well may be.

If you’re finding it near-impossible to get through the property, the alarm bells should be ringing, as this may be indicating issues behind the scenes.

The house price is too high or too low

It should always be a red flag when a house seems suspiciously inexpensive. The likelihood that it may be harbouring some dark underbelly is rather high. While it’s not entirely inconceivable that you may have stumbled across the deal of a lifetime (it does happen), the chances are greater that you’ve likely found yourself a dud home.

If the price seems way higher than reasonable, then it could be that the vendor is not disclosing a multitude of hidden costs associated with the property that they’re hoping to cunningly tack onto the real cost of the home. The home could have structural damage, there may be zoning issues, or overdue property tax that they’re oh-so-sneakily avoiding.

It always pays to find out exactly why a house might cost what is does, because the reasons may not always be so straightforward.  

Rough neighbourhood

So what happens when everything seems to be perfect? The house is amazing, the price is in that Goldilocks zone – not too big, not too little – everything seems ideal. The birds are singing, the tree and swaying, and a rainbow ends on a pot of gold right outside the front door.

OK, so what’s the catch?

One thing you may not have looked into yet is the neighbourhood. Maybe you don’t know much about it or you’re from interstate and you’ve never even heard the name before let alone all the nasty stories the locals love to go over. The area may not have a lot going for it, meaning that the overall value of properties within that suburb may even decline in the coming years.

You might be dead set on the home itself, but it might not be worth settling there if you’re surrounded by high crime rates, underdevelopment, a decreasing population, and a steady decline in housing prices to boot.

Again, do your homework on the surrounding area first and foremost before you make any rash decisions.  

It’s the inside that counts…

They say you should never judge a book by its cover. They’re right. No matter how pretty a house looks on the outside, it’s absolutely no indication of what might be lurking on the inside. Real estate agents know this all too well. Ever come across a listing of a beautiful looking home but can’t seem to find any photos of the inside? There’s a reason for that. Basically, those selling the property are convinced that displaying the interior will be more of a deterrent than just leaving them off the listing all together.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the home is going to be a lemon without a doubt, it just means that you should be weary from the get go, and perhaps even call ahead to find out before potentially wasting your precious time. You’re actual dream home might be getting snatched up while you’ve been duped into inspecting a disaster home, and we can’t have you missing out on your dream home.

However, when all is said and done, the only way to be 100% sure that you’re getting what you pay for is to opt for a Pre-Purchase Building Inspection. We here at Building Masters have been around the block so to speak, and we never miss a beat. We know exactly what to look for and exactly when there might deception involved. We also want you to get the best possible deal which we can offer with our new Property Negotiation Service. So get out there and find yourself a dream home, and we’ll be waiting on the sidelines to help you secure it at the best possible price!