Buying your first home can be a nerve-racking mix of high hopes and utter trepidation. It’s a huge investment and a significant milestone, so it’s a given that you’ll be experiencing a whole range of emotions. Among all the excitement, you may not realise how heavily the real estate system is stacked against you: there’s much more to it than saving for a deposit and hoping your offer gets accepted.

While it may feel like a fair and balanced process, everyone involved has a vested interest and is out to get their slice of the pie. That smiling real estate agent with the firm handshake and friendly banter? It’s easy to forget that they are trained in the psychology of sales and acting solely on the best interests of the vendor and themselves. Combine this with all the costs associated with stamp duty, vendor advocates, legal services and other fees, and you could end up paying far more than the true worth of the property.

Why you should never skip a building inspection

First home buyers often get swept away by the opportunity of owning their ‘dream home’ and end up signing on the dotted line without an inspection only to find out the roof has an unrepairable issue that’s invisible to the untrained eye. With an impartial report in your hand, you can make a sound decision that isn’t clouded by your emotions.

And you must take care to choose the right inspector. When it comes down to it, an experienced building inspector is the only party that’s truly impartial in the home buying process. An inspection gives you an honest appraisal of the property that cuts through the buttered-up sales pitch offered by an agent and provides you with an accurate and detailed summary of the structure’s condition and its present and future repair and maintenance costs.

More than 50% of new homes fail our inspections

Let that sink in. Inspections apply as much to brand new structures as they do to old ones, especially since many building contracts are awarded to the building team with the lowest bid. New homes are often failed due to structural faults, failure to comply with building codes and all manner of other issues, so don’t always be fooled by the dazzling packaging!

A building inspection comes with a fee, of course, but the report could give you the bargaining power you need to knock thousands off the asking price during negotiations. It may also be the only thing that protects you from making a dud investment and gives you the chance to turn away before it’s too late.