What you need to consider when buying a recently renovated property

Too many Australians are rolling the dice on property investment, but not in the way you may think.

A buyer’s agent is seeing an alarming trend of buyers choosing to skip building reports in the current market, which could lead to costly repairs down the track.

“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,” EPS Property Search director Patrick Bright told Nest Egg.

“It’s often what you can’t see that is the cause of most concern.”

Read more: Why tradies are in short supply and renovation costs are soaring

He says buyers need to be extra cautious right now, as a raft of recently renovated properties available could be a product of sellers eager to take advantage of a rising property market.

In Mr Bright’s experience, it’s those renovated properties that often reveal “the most expensive hidden problems”.

“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.

He’s urging buyers to consider whether the renovation was done professionally, especially after the recent self-isolation periods that contributed to a surge in renovations across the country.

Pest and building inspections are essential in a property purchase, says Mr Bright, “unless the building is intended to be knocked down and rebuilt”.

Read more: The four rules you need to follow when planning renovations

Property reports pick up on problems such as damp, termite infestation, structural issues, shifting foundations, faulty wiring and plumbing prior to purchasing, which informs a buyer of potentially costly future repairs.

Buyers should look for retired builders or people with “real construction experience”.

Building inspectors can also provide a realistic estimate on the cost to fix existing issues, he added, “which can then be factored into the offer or used in negotiating prices”.

Warning signs you should watch for when buying a house include:

  • exterior cracks and tilts
  • ownership history
  • water damage concealed by paint
  • uneven or bouncy floors
  • room fresheners
  • music playing in each room
  • the seller won’t let you see some areas
  • incentives to waive an inspection
  • no permits for work done
  • astroturf and spray-painted hedges
  • any questionable construction
  • how long the house has been up for sale
  • house price (too low may be too good to be true)
  • rough neighbourhood
  • skid marks out the front or nearby.

If you see any of these warning signs before buying a house, and you’re still interested in purchasing but not knocking it down, then a property inspection is a must.

Read more: Property renovations that are not worth your time and effort

Have you ever had a dodgy property problem? Why not share your suggestions or warning signs in the comments area below?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

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