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Posted by Tamara McDowell on February 5, 2010

When you buy a property you are agreeing to purchase it in the condition you find it at the time of your offer.  Unless it is brand new, then it is likely to have some wear and tear.  As a buyer, you must be aware of any faults at the start of this process because they are your responsibility after the purchase.

 However, if you require certain things to be mended by the owner before settlement, this can be written into the contract when your offer is made.  It is important therefore that homebuyers do a thorough check of the property before putting down an offer.

 The REIWA Offer and Acceptance Form  has a section for buyers to write in any special conditions to ensure the best outcome for them.  This might include things such as all the plumbing and wiring being in safe working order.  If a door, shower screen or window is broken, these are also things you can insist be fixed by the owner before you settle.

 Here are some of the more common things to inspect:

  • Learn how the hot water system works and whether it may need repair.  If it is a solar system ask about the booster switch and where it is located.
  • Check that the reticulation system operates, how it works and ask to see where the valves are located.
  • If there is air conditioning, check that it works properly and that its service record is up to date, where that might be required.
  • If there is a pool, check for any damage and become familiar with the pool cleaning equipment and filter.  Ensure that the property has the required legal pool fencing, given that the rules have changed for this recently.
  • Check that the plumbing and light switches work by operating all the taps and switches.
  • With power points, take a small desk lamp or hair dryer with you from room to room to ensure all the plugs are working.
  • Inspect all the water drainage outlets coming from the roof, ensure the guttering is sound and find out where the soak wells are located.
  • If the property is still on septic tanks and sewerage, check to location of the tanks.
  • Ask about the location of the sewerage outlet pipes and where the main connection is located.

 You can require that the owner fixes any faults prior to settlement as a condition of your offer.  If any items are not working or fixed at settlement and the owner had agreed to this in writing to this, then money can be allocated from the seller’s settlement proceeds to you for any necessary repairs.


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