Don’t panic, a few flaws can reveal rich rewards
THIS week I want to discuss cracks, stains, marks, scuffs, holes and all things in your home you usually know about, either choose to ignore, decide to live with or have tried to fix yourself and given up halfway through.
Yes, all homes usually display a number of these features, some few, some all; they are an unavoidable part of property-owning life.
However, I cannot tell how many times I have shown buyers properties where these so-called features are on clear display and the reaction to them by the buying public is usually to exaggerate massively the cause of the defect along with calculating the cost to repair and simply adding zeros.
I have often tried to analyse this human home-buying trait, the only rational explanation I can come up with is as a buyer you are naturally cautious, which is a sensible thing, but at the first sign of a possible issue, no matter how minor that issue, it can get blown out of proportion.
For example, water stain marks on a ceiling means a whole new roof is needed? Cracks everywhere means the walls are about to crumble and your investment will be no more than a pile of rubble. Loose electrical sockets means rewiring is urgent, don’t touch anything and leave the building immediately.
I am exaggerating but hopefully you get my point.
So this week’s words of caution are targeted at buyers and sellers.
Buyers, always be on your guard and look out for the warning signs of problems, but remember some defects may be so minor that the cost to rectify could be very little or, in fact, in some cases the problem may have already been addressed.
If you spot an issue ask the sellers or agents for their comments, see paperwork and always get a building and pest inspection.
Even if the problem is a big fix, if you love the home consider negotiating with the sellers to allow for the cost of the work to be covered. All defects can be fixed — even a dreaded termite infestation — it is all down to cost and how keen you are on the home. Some of the best buys will be homes with issues that other buyers have walked away from.
If you are about to list your home for sale, now is the time to consider fixing everything — yes, it is almost more important than a kitchen upgrade. The most common defects such as cracks and ceiling water stains or mould are the most regularly ignored by you, but focused on by the buying public. They will think it could be all manner of scary structural issues if you do not take some action.
I would never suggest a cover-up; quite simply if the cracks are serious and movement is current, filling them in will be a waste of time. It is the same with water damage, cover it up and the next time it rains you could be back to square one. In my experience many of the most common issues such as cracks and water stains have either already been addressed or are not a truly serious defect. Small surface cracks are called shrinkage and in many homes this is just something that occurs over time and simply requires ongoing management.
So do not scare away buyers with your laziness, the cost to fix the problem is usually far less than the potential negative impact it can have on a selling price.
To conclude, buyers please don’t panic when you see a problem; find out more about it first and organise inspections and quotes if needed. You may find it is nothing, or if it is, that the current owner will cover the cost of rectification.
Don’t lose a property you love for this.
Sellers, make sure your house is in structural order. If you are concerned why don’t you commission a buildings and pest inspection?
You will then know what to expect and what may be needed to get top dollar.
Andrew Winter is the host of Selling Houses Australia on The Lifestyle Channel.
If you are about to list your home for sale, now is the time to consider fixing everything — yes, it
is almost more important than a kitchen upgrade