Finding a seemingly perfect property can be an incredibly exciting experience, so much so that it can often lead you into forgetting to ask some of the most important questions before you sign along the dotted line. But, before you allow excitement to cloud your judgement, make sure that you ask these questions to ensure that the property is as perfect as it seems…
1) Has there been a death in the house?
While sellers are legally required to provide full disclosure of property defects prior to concluding the sale, the voetstoots clause protects the seller by forcing the buyer to prove that the information was deliberately withheld from them. To protect yourself against this clause, you might want to ask some awkward questions, like if there has ever been a death in the house, or if there has been any issues with unpleasant neighbours and if there has ever been any sort of pest problem (with snakes, mice, bats, bedbugs, cockroaches and ants being the most common suspects).
2) When last did you replace this?
For budgeting and planning purposes, ask about when last certain features were maintained or replaced. For example, a roof is expected to last anywhere between 20-30 years. If you are purchasing an older property, ask how old the roof is so that you can budget for its eventual maintenance. If the property has any thatch roofing, ask when last the thatch was combed. Finding out about any plumbing and electrical issues will be helpful in determining the lifespan on these related fittings. You should also ask the previous owner roughly how much the monthly utilities cost so that you can budget accordingly.
3) What are the dimensions of this space?
In the flurry of excitement, buyers often tend to forget to check practical things such as dimensions. If you have a large SUV, for example, make sure that you have checked the dimensions (height included) of the garage to make sure that your vehicle will fit. If you have a large family, you should also ask how large the geyser is so that you know if you’re going to have to set up a bathroom schedule just to ensure that nobody has a cold shower.
4) What is the neighbourhood like?
Many buyers spend so much time looking at the property that they completely forget to look beyond its boundaries. If you happen to see a neighbour when going to view the property, chat to them and find out what it’s like to live in the area. You can also take some time to visit the suburb to see what it’s like at different times of the day.
5) Can I renovate this space?
Many buyers purchase the property with the intention of renovating it to suit the growing needs of their family. Make sure you have a clear idea of the cost, expertise and time involved in achieving the vision before you purchase. Even if it is just a minor change, it is always better to speak to a contractor first.