Most investors think of building and pest inspections as part and parcel when buying a property.
In other words, it’s one of the slightly annoying, yet completely essential, steps to safeguarding your purchase when buying a property.
They tend to be viewed as a kind of insurance policy, helping you ensure you don’t end up with an expensive disaster down the track because you purchased a home riddled with termites or asbestos.
But what many buyers don’t realise is, you can actually use a pest or building inspection to your advantage, and potentially save yourself thousands off the asking price.
1. By leveraging termites
You probably shudder just reading the word “termites”.
But in fact, these hungry little creatures could be your ticket to a winning investment!
If you’re looking at properties that require extensive renovation, or considering a knockdown and re-build, the presence of termites could really work in your favour.
Fixing termite damage can cost a fortune if you’re trying to retain and preserve the existing dwelling, but if you’re planning to gut the place or demolish and build a couple of townhouses, that extra expense becomes irrelevant.
The vendor doesn’t know what your plans are for the property, so when you present the pest report to them confirming the property has uninvited guests, they are more likely to be receptive to your negotiation tactics.
Use the presence of termites to drive a hard bargain — there could be huge scope for a discount here.
2. By noticing water damage and damp
If a building inspection identifies water damage to the property, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in price commensurate with the cost of repairing the damage.
And, you may be able to add a little financial “cushion” to account for the time and effort spend arranging repairs.
It’s a good idea to get more than one quote, and it’s also important to determine the cause of the damage, to ensure it’s not going to be an ongoing issue.
3. By being pedantic about bedrooms
The number of bedrooms in a property has a significant impact on its value, so ensuring each of them is legally habitable is a key part of your building inspection.
The size, ceiling height and number of windows are all taken into consideration when determining if a room is able to be advertised as (and legally considered as) a bedroom.
If one or more of the rooms described as “bedrooms” are found to be lacking in these areas, it could be your ticket to a big price reduction.
For example, if you’re looking at a four-bedroom property and your inspector determines one of these rooms isn’t suitable for use as a bedroom, then you’re actually looking at a three-bedroom home… and your power to negotiate just skyrocketed!
4. By play hardball around structural issues
Problems with the structure and safety of a dwelling are your surest way to slash big bucks off the asking price.
Issues like cracked stumps, rusted roofs and unauthorised renovations are expensive to fix and can result in legal issues, too, so if these are revealed in your inspection you’ll have the upper hand on the seller when it comes to negotiations.
The same goes for pool fence compliance, retaining walls, and the safety of verandahs and balconies, including stairs and railings.
Negotiate the cost to repair or replace these items and you’ll not only end up with some bonus renovations, but you’ll save yourself a bunch of cash.
5. By accepting asbestos
This deadly fibre can be hiding in anything from walls and ceilings to bathroom tiles and carpet underlay — and is proof that a building inspection can be a life saver, as well as a money saver.
Many buyers wouldn’t even entertain the notion of buying a property containing asbestos.
However, the reality is that around one third of Australian homes built pre-1987 have it lurking somewhere.
If the building inspector discovers asbestos, your first step is to check out the law in your state, which you can do at www.asbestossafety.gov.au.
Next, get some quotes for the cost of removing it and replacing the relevant wall or roof with a non-carcinogenic alternative.
Present this plan to clean up and protect the property to the seller.
While asbestos isn’t dangerous unless the fibres are disturbed, the very presence of it is enough to spook some buyers, so the sellers may be motivated to appease your demands to secure the sale.