The importance of property inspections

Private Property South Africa
Property Power

What is a Property Inspection?

A Property Inspection is a detailed and systematic visual inspection of the property, its structures, design and fixtures that will provide a transparent understanding of the property's 'vital signs' and condition as observed on inspection date.

The client (of a professional property inspection company) receives a report outlining in detail a visual "Blue Print" of the property with specific attention paid to areas of concern.

Why do you need a Property Inspection?

The purchase of a home is probably the largest single investment you will ever make. It is advisable to make an intelligent decision based on all the facts before you buy, in doing so you can avoid costly repairs and/or disputes during the transfer process. After the inspection, you will have a much clearer understanding of the property you are about to purchase, and will be able to make a confident buying decision.

If you are a home owner, a property inspection can identify problems early on and recommend preventative measures which might avoid costly future repairs.

In addition, home sellers may opt for having an inspection done prior to placing the home on the market to gain a better understanding of conditions which the buyer or his inspector may point out. This provides an opportunity to make repairs that will put the house in better selling condition and also avoid unwanted defect problems and accusations by a buyer, (which could even occur after the property is transferred into the buyer’s name).

What will it cost?

The inspection fee for a typical home varies depending upon the size and age of the property. The average cost ranges from R 1 750.00 to R 5 500.00 for most homes.

Can you do it yourself?

Most buyers find it very difficult to remain completely objective and unemotional about the house they really want, and this may affect their judgment. Apart from that, the average buyer does not have sufficient knowledge to undertake the technical aspects of the inspection. For the most accurate picture, it is best to obtain an impartial third-party opinion by an expert in the field of property inspection.

Can a house fail inspection?

A professional property inspection is an examination of the current condition of your prospective home. It is not an appraisal, which determines market value, or a municipal inspection, which verifies local code compliance. A Property Inspector, therefore, will not pass or fail a house, but rather describe its physical condition and point out areas of concern.

When do you call in the Property Inspector?

Before you sign an offer to purchase, or before you put your property on the market! A Property Inspector is typically called in after the contract or purchase agreement has been signed, however, the buyer must then be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract, making the purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional property inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated and such a clause could be quite tricky if either party does not agree on the findings of the inspection. It is advisable to consult an attorney to draft such a clause.

What if the report reveals problems?

No house is perfect. If the inspector finds problems, it doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't buy or sell the house, only that you will know in advance what to expect. A seller may be flexible with the purchase price or contract terms because of the defect (which should be documented in detail in the offer to purchase) if major problems are found.

This article originally appeared in Property Power 11th Edition Magazine. To order your copy at the discounted price of R120 click here.

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