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How to Read Touch-ups in Properties For Sale

How to Read Touch-ups in Properties For Sale

31 March 2015

When inspecting a home to buy it is always nice to walk into a property that is well-presented. But sometimes a well-groomed property isn’t as good as it looks.

While most repairs and new paint represent the efforts of proud home owners paying attention to detail to maximise buyer interest, homebuyers should remember that recent renovations in properties for sale aren’t always what they seem.

Over time most houses will show evidence of the lifestyle of the people who have been living in them. Stains appear after friends have dropped in with a bottle of red, or under the debris left by teenagers cooking themselves dinner. Most of these stains are normal wear and tear.

But some stains represent functional problems; a carpet stain might mean a leaky toilet or shower cubicle on the floor above or adjacent, or it might mean a crack in the foundations through which water is seeping; stains on paint or wallpaper near a window can indicate moisture problems caused by loose glass or fittings; stains in the middle of walls can indicate a (costly-to-repair) leaking internal pipe. And some home sellers make last minute efforts to cover up these functional problems.

Home buyers should pay special attention to improvements that appear isolated or surfaces that seem touched up. New paint work, especially where small areas such as one wall or one corner of a room, or back-to-back walls appear to have been done rather than the whole room should be carefully assessed to see if it hides mould or temporarily conceals cracks. Be suspicious when some areas are slick with new paint while other rooms seemingly in need have been bypassed. Even new latticework may be less than innocent; it can be used to hide termite or other infestations.

Prospective purchasers should inspect any recent workmanship carefully. Most work will be just as it seems: conscientious home sellers getting ready for the big event. Still, training yourself to look carefully during inspections at areas that don’t look right or are simply too good to be true may save a lot of time and trouble. While a building report is a purchaser’s ultimate insurance against making a costly mistake, finding out sooner saves time, emotional stress and fees. It is so much easier to walk away at this stage – unless of course the selling price reflects the work that really needs to be carried out.