Don’t panic, a few flaws can re­veal rich re­wards

Herald Sun - Property - - ANDREW WINTER -

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

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