Ignoring the House

by Justin Eslick

When we inspect a possible purchase, we tend to go straight inside the house and have a good look around at the layout, the condition, the work required and whether it suits our needs. However, if it is an investment purchase you need to be inspecting with a different mindset. Let’s turn this around!

Start Your Inspection 500m Earlier

My inspection of a property starts well before I arrive at it. As I’m driving I’m checking out the amenities near by... cafes, shops, transport... all the things that tenants and owner occupiers alike look for. A property handy to these will rent for more, rent quicker and have better overall growth.

As I’m getting closer I’m looking at the lie of the land. Where does it slope to, are there visual cues for flooding such as stormwater drains, creeks or low points?

At the property I’m standing on the street. If developing I need to ensure there aren’t any bus stops in my way. What is the access to the site like – any issues because of the road, a nearby intersection or traffic? Are there any street trees that could prove a problem? What are the neighbouring land uses? Could they restrict the value or hinder or support development?

Inside the Front Fence

I’ve finally stepped foot on the property and now I’m looking for any large trees that could pose a problem. I’m looking at the contours for overland flow and getting stormwater off the site. I might also be looking at the side access if I’m thinking of developing the backyard.

The House

Finally it is time to check out the dwelling, but I’m not going inside just yet!

First is a look underneath (if highset) and a look outside. The reason being, if it is structurally unsound or has serious termites, I can possibly save myself some time and not look inside.

Is there past or present termite activity? Any significant cracking to the building? Do the foundations and posts look legal and the house look level? How does the roof look?

Randomly replaced VJ boards is a dead give away there have been termites. All they had to do was paint and you may be none the wiser!

At long last I take a look inside. By now I should have a fair idea about the structural integrity of the house and whether there are termites, but I’m still looking out for these items, such as replaced VJ boards, more cracking, sagging ceiling, etc. Other than that most of the inspection isn’t about how nice it is but more about what potential does the layout have and what cosmetic improvements can I make? Can I find an extra bedroom – probably the best and quickest way to add value.

Inspecting the Agent

The last thing I check out is the agent. No, I’m not seeing whether they are a looker or not! I am asking them questions and reading their body language. I am also trying to hear what it is they aren’t telling me... how long as the property been on the market? What price will buy it? What terms are they looking for? Why are they selling? You need to pick up on every subtle detail so you can make the most appropriate offer.

The Inspection

As you can see, there is far more to inspecting a property than simply looking at how nice the house is, especially if you are an investor, but even owner occupiers should be considering everything else as well. In fact, to a large degree I ignore the house, at least until the very end.

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