Durban - Property sales tend to rise from October to December as more people make a move in preparation for a new year.

A new home is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make. While most people think this will be an exciting journey, and a fresh start, too many are disappointed and suffer financially when they find out that their dream home is a money-drainer rather than the investment they imagined it to be.

Eric Bell of Inspect-A-Home believes it is important for buyers to understand the condition of their property before they buy it. While some defects, such as cracked roof tiles and damp walls, might be more obvious, hidden defects such as rotten roof beams or a leaking geyser are more difficult to spot.

These defects might mean that a house is unsafe and repairs could run into the hundreds of thousands, leaving buyers with massive, unexpected bills.

A current case before the Estate Agent Affairs Board has one buyer living in a hotel while more than R400 000 worth of damage is being repaired in his newly bought home.

Bell warns that there are no laws governing the disclosure of defects before a property sale.

All too often, sellers want to sell their properties and agents want to get their commission, so pre-sale inspections are not recommended and buyers are encouraged to sign disclosure documents stating that the property is in good condition.

Potential buyers should remember that they are not required to sign disclosure documents or accept a voetstoots (“as it stands”) clause. Most sellers, buyers, and agents are not building inspectors and are therefore not qualified to evaluate the condition of a property.

Most houses inspected do have defects, and if they are costly to repair, a reduction in the purchase price would only be fair.

“It is important to note that 97 percent of houses pass inspection and are still sold,” says Bell.

Don’t get caught out and buy one of the 3 percent that have serious problems.

Before signing, call an accredited home inspection service to ensure that your dream house is all that you expect it to be.


Check it out before you buy

Are you house-hunting? At the next house showing, consider the following:

* Are there any large plaster cracks that could indicate structural damage?

* Can you spot peeling or blistering paint indicating a damp problem?

* Are there signs of rot in any wooden doors, floors, or window frames?

* Does the roof have missing tiles or damaged gutters?

* Are the kitchen and bathroom well ventilated and are the taps in good working order?

* Are boundary walls, electric fencing, electric gates, and garage motors in good working order?

* What about the geyser? How old is it? When was it last serviced? Is it insulated? - The Mercury