Buyer beware of the renovated property

Eager property buyers should be extra cautious of recently renovated properties that could be masking serious pest and structural issues in sellers’ haste to capitalise on soaring property markets, according to real estate expert and buyer’s agent Patrick Bright.

Mr Bright, who is the author of The Insider’s Guide to Buying Real Estate and director of EPS Property Search, said buyers should be more worried about renovated than unrenovated properties which could be disguising pricey flaws.

He urged buyers not to rush in and skip a building and pest inspection report.

“I am deeply concerned by the number of properties I’m currently seeing which are being sold without buyers undertaking a building and pest report,” said Mr Bright.

“It’s often what you can’t see that is the cause of most concern and in my 20+years’ experience, renovated properties often have the most expensive hidden problems. Mr Bright said the COVID-19 self-isolation periods at home have certainly contributed to an increasing surge in renovations.

“When I see renovated properties I am always concerned as to whether the work has been done by a professional or a Bunnings weekend warrior, particularly after the recent lockdowns,” he said.

“Have they started up the property and essentially painted over the dodgy bits leaving unsuspecting buyers to eventually pay the price to fix it.

“A wise person would not buy a $20,000 used car without a pre-purchase inspection yet I see people spend a hundred times that amount without one, on a property where there’s a far greater financial downside.”

Mr Bright recommends where possible hiring a building inspector who is either a retired builder or at the very least, one or who has had real construction experience.

He said structural, pest, damp, electrical, and plumbing issues with repair bills in excess of $100,000 are not uncommon estimates from properties that upon visual inspection looked okay.

“In my opinion, the best building inspectors are retired builders who can not only identify the issues but can also provide a realistic estimate on the cost to fix them,” said Mr Bright.

“Should your pre-purchase inspection discover issues then you have a choice to factor the cost of repairs into your offer or to walk away if the problems are too great.

“Unless you’re going to knock down and rebuild, pest and building inspections are absolutely essential for anyone who’s buying a property.

“The cost of inspections can really add up but don’t resent the expense because it’s important to be well informed about potential problems such as damp, termite infestation, structural issues, shifting foundations, faulty wiring, and plumbing.”

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