How to Spot a Lemon When Buying Property

Buying your first house is an exciting time and you can hardly wait to sign on the dotted line and move in. In fact, even when buying for a second or third time you will feel excited and ready to make that fresh start in a new home that suits you even better than the one before.  However, don’t get carried away be the excitement or the emotional attachment you may feel to a home. Some homes are lemons, having things wrong with them that will have you calling a home maintenance company constantly and will be very costly to fix. How do you spot a lemon?

  • Look for damp patches that can signal a problem with the plumbing, the guttering or the waterproofing. These can be in spots other than the basement, so look high and low. Check for fresh patches of paint and suspect that they are there to cover mould that won’t wash out. Mould is very unhealthy to live in so this is definitely a lemon.

  • Structural issues such as sagging ceilings or buckling walls are expensive to fix, but it is not always noticeable, especially if there is furniture still in the house. Make sure you open and close all the windows and doors to see if they stick, and see if the frames look uneven.
  • Ask how old the water heater is; if it’s over 10 years get another one put in before you buy. Turn all the taps on to see how long it takes for the hot water to come through. Much water can be wasted if it takes too long – water you’ll have to pay for.
  • Take note if there are any energy efficient features. Chandeliers may look wonderful, but burn up the power because of all the globes in them. It’s far better to have just one or two energy efficient lights in the room. Look for insulation especially in the ceiling and note if the doors and windows close snugly or are loose.
  • Never purchase a property without having a pest inspection done. You can’t always see signs of white ants unless you know what to look for and where.
  • Many people feel they can purchase property without a solicitor, but this is not the best way to go. A solicitor can alert you to many things such as Illegal building additions, complications with the title deeds and legal ownership, possible problems with strata management fees or clauses and issues with zoning or possible future develops in nearby locations that could affect the value of the property. A solicitor can also make sure that your mortgage agreement and contract of sale protect your interests rather than the seller’s.

Doing things the right way will give you peace of mind that your new home is one you can be proud of.