Subject to COVID-19 restrictions, and the ongoing pandemic, the property market in Melbourne is usually booming at this time of the year.
It’s always an exciting time to explore what’s on offer in terms of housing. Buying a house provides a solid base for you and your family to build a life. Melbourne has a lot to offer and finding the right home requires careful consideration of multiple factors and of course research. You want to ensure that the property is in the right location, fits your lifestyle and is also within your price range.
Exploring Melbourne’s Suburbs
We recommend that you explore and consider the different areas in Melbourne while looking for a house. Prices can vary enormously in neighbouring suburbs, as can different properties in one suburb. It’s also worth finding out past sale prices in the specific areas and streets you are interested in and making a comparison to the current prices.
After assisting hundreds of clients to purchase their dream homes, we’re going to share with you some warning signs you should be aware of and hidden elements sellers use to make a house look better than it is. In this article, we are going to look at hidden things you should look at before you consider purchasing a home in Melbourne.
1. Ownership History
Inspect the ownership history of the house you’re interested in purchasing. A home with a high turnover is a serious red flag. Take caution in purchasing such a property however much you may like it. Melbourne has the longest average period of ownership in all of Australia which stands at 12.5 years. If your prospective home has an average ownership length of three years or less per owner, find out the root cause of the previous owner’s dissatisfaction because sometimes a high turnover implies that there’s an inherent problem with the house.
2. Exterior cracks and tilts
Pay attention to the exterior of the house. A check for cracks in foundations, walls, where the walls meet the ceiling, any windows, stairs, outside porch and decks. In many cases, many homebuyers pay attention to the interior that may have wonderful varnish and paint, but also beware that a damaged exterior may cost you a fortune to repair. Look out for cracks and tilts in the exterior such as a decayed siding or a door that is rotting, or rotting stumps or cracks in any outside walls or concrete. This may point out to issues in the foundation and often, there are testimonies of home buyers who had to demolish the whole house to fix a tilt. In the end, it may be more expensive than you had anticipated.
While inspecting the property, bring a spirit level or even a marble to place on the floor to check the cracks and levels. If the cracks are large than a ¼ inch wide, we recommend that you seek the advice of a structural engineer before making the decision to purchase the house.
3. Water Damage
It is common for homeowners to conceal water damage using paint. Concealing water-damaged areas with paint leads to mould because of trapped moisture. Breathing black mould is unhealthy. Carefully look at the underside of sinks and drawers in the kitchen. Also, look at the base of toilets and tubs. One of the most sensitive areas is the area underneath windowsills. If you see either warped or soft panels, this can be a confirmation that there are, or has been leaks in the past.
4. Uneven Floors
While inspecting the house, use a marble to check the evenness of the floor. Place the marble on different areas of the floor in each room. The older the house, the more vital it is to carry out a marble test to find out how uneven the floors are. In some instances, a house aggressively settles, creating a hump in the middle.
Finding out the evenness of the floor is important since rectifying defects can be costly because the existing floor must be removed to correct the support columns and thereafter place a matching floor and finish with the original flooring.
5. Environmental Considerations
It is vital that you notice any unusual smells that you might experience while viewing the property. Look out for odours, mould, or any strong chemicals. If there are any such smells, determine the source and find out whether it’s possible to fix them or not.
Also beware of homeowners who use air fresheners or scented candles to cover smells.
Before buying your home, take time to visit the area at different times of the day (and even at night if possible) to identify the noise levels. These noises include noise traffic, barking dogs or proximity to construction sites, etc. Noisy neighbours can also be a headache especially those that play loud music or hold huge parties on the adjacent property. Noticing these noises ensures that you made an informed decision when it comes to buying your home.
Agents generally don’t disclose any information about noisy or bothersome neighbours, usually because they would not have even reason to know about this, and they don’t have a duty to do so. Melbourne usually attracts a huge number of international students and tourists which can result to noisy living situations. It is difficult to find out the noisy levels especially when you visit the property during peaceful times. We recommend that you inspect the property on different days and at varying times of the day.
In some instances, the offer of a house is so good, and people rarely take the time to identify the neighbourhood. You may purchase a home only later to realise that amenities such as a supermarket, local park, public transport systems or cafes are too far away, or not within walking distance for the children. We advise that instead of driving, you take a walk and look around the neighbourhood to see if it has amenities that you and your family require.
8. Beware of homeowners who play music
Sneaky homeowners will sometimes play music to mask the noise that is outside. Aside from music, the owners can also have the central fan turned on to create white noise. While inspecting the home, with either the music or the white noise turned on, you may not notice the noise level around the home and unfortunately, you’ll only notice it once you move in the house after your settlement.
9. Filters and ducts
These things often get forgotten about especially with home owners who are not as careful with cleaning. Check the vent over the rangehood to see how dirty and grimy it is. Double check the rangehood to see if there is a lot of grease build up, and check any standing fans or heating filters that you can find. If they are coated with dust, you will know that the rest of the house that you cannot see may not have been been properly maintained either.
10. Door jams and window tracks
Check how dirty the window tracks and tracks of any sliding doors are. Usually a lot of dust, dirt and bugs can collect in there and although this is something that can be cleaned, it can be an indication that other items you cannot easily see, may not be as clean as well.
11. Unusual smells or odours
If the basement or any room smells like mildew or mould, there could be an underlying issue that you cannot see from the surface. Press on any walls or floors that feel damp or may be emitting an odour. This can be a sign of mould or mildew behind the plaster, or under the flooring, which can cause major problems later on.
12. Foul tasting water
If you are moving from a different city, you might be surprised that the water tastes differently. Moreover, if the water tastes funny, it could be a sign of dirty pipes or outdated piping and plumbing that could cause problems and knowing them right away will help you prepare.
13. Drainage problems
Run water through sinks, toilets and drains to see if there is a problem with the plumbing. Oftentimes, when you inspect a house you forget about these minor details that could save you problems in the future.
14. Faulty wiring
Check around the house for any wiring, cords or electrical outlets that may need some attention. A lot of confusing wires going every which way may be a sign that you need an electrical inspector. Faulty wiring may lead to fire and it is very important to fix it once it becomes apparent to prevent any untoward incident to you and your family.
15. Areas around the house the seller won’t allow you to see
In case the seller refuses to show you some rooms or areas in the house such as the garage, locked rooms, or locked sheds until you sign the contract. This is a bad sign and chances are high that they are hiding something. As a buyer, you should be allowed to see and inspect every part of the house to your satisfaction.
Always be Vigilant While Conducting the Inspection
Since you now know the warning signs to watch out for while buying a house, you can now buy with more confidence. Each time you visit a property that you are interested in, remember to come with a notepad and check the areas we have listed.
A diligent seller will disclose any problems affecting the property in the disclosure documents, and through their agent. However, it’s up to you as the buyer to verify whether the disclosed problems are what they are, or there’s more. It also falls upon you to find out other problems affecting the property and use them as leverage while negotiating the price.
Purchasing a home is a big decision. Always take the time to inspect your prospective home and take what agents or the seller disclose with a pinch of salt. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If it’s the first time you’re buying property, be as thorough as you can. Remember this is a huge investment and it’s going to be the house you and your family hopefully live in for a long time.
If you are a first home buyer, or if you are a repeat buyer but you are still unsure of what questions to ask, feel free to reach out to us by calling 1800 549 836 or by sending us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can guide you through the process.