Spring is here and if you’re in the market to buy a property during the busiest time of year, you’ll be hitting the open inspection circuit in a big way! Vendors and real estate agents will be using their best tactics to make you fall in love with their properties and entice you to pay top price.

Here are some tips to help you see past the cosmetics and help you determine the right price to pay for the home of your dreams.

Do some research beforehand

Vendors and real estate agents use clever marketing and photography to reel you in. Before you go to the open inspection, do a little research about the suburb and where the property is located. You don’t want to go all that way only to find ‘close to public transport’ means the property is right next to a railway line, or ‘up and coming suburb’ equals local crime hotspot.

Look past the staging tactics

Every home you see will be staged to sell, either by the vendor or a professional property stylist. Good staging can be used to hide a multitude of sins, like uneven floors, rising damp, cramped rooms and other structural defects. Don’t be fooled. Remember, the contemporary furniture, art and accessories won’t be staying once the property is yours. You need to look beyond the cosmetics for faults and defects that could prove costly to repair later.

Beware of the overuse of smellies

Vendors may use fragrances and scented candles to disguise the smell of damp, mould, compromised sewers, bad plumbing and leaky toilets. These kinds of issues can be very expensive to repair, so be cautious if the place smells like an expensive gift shop. Always get a professional building inspection prior to putting in an offer, even if the place smells great without all the candles.

Look up

A leaky roof or water damage can be costly to fix. Signs there could be a problem include mould on the roof, roof rot, missing or buckling tiles, damaged flashing, wavy cornices, and damp patches on ceilings or walls. Vendors are likely to paint over any problems to disguise them during open inspections, so have a good look at the roof from outside the property and again, get a professional building inspection to be on the safe side.

Check the plumbing

You may feel silly, but don’t be afraid to turn on the taps and flush the toilets during the open inspection. You’ll want to listen for hammer issues and check the hot water is working. Also, be sure to ask to see the hot water system. You’ll want to find out how old it is and the last time it received a proper service.

Look out for unwanted guests

For the layperson, it can be tricky to identify the presence of termites or other pests like mice and rats. Sagging or buckling floors, hollow-sounding beams and “mud leads” could mean there is a termite problem. A funky smell in cupboards and under the house may indicate the presence of rodents. A pest inspection is important, particularly if the property is in a high-risk termite zone.

Be wary of cracks

Subsidence is when there is an excessive movement of the ground beneath a property which causes structural damage. Cracks can indicate a problem which may be minor, or quite severe and it’s difficult to tell. Look for cracks indoors that reach to doorways or windows. Take a walk around the exterior of the property and look for cracks in the brickwork or foundations. Remember, a strategically placed pot plant or outdoor chair may be covering an issue. Again, a building inspection is important to determine the property is structurally sound.

Consider the orientation

Remember, properties often look their best in Spring when the garden’s in bloom and the sun is out. However, don’t forget to consider the orientation of the property and what it will be like at other times of the year. North or north-east facing properties often get the most sunlight. If the ceiling lights are ablaze when you enter the property and it’s a sunny day, imagine how dark it will be during Winter.

Do your due diligence

Before purchasing any property, it’s extremely important to research the current market value of the property and the area you’re buying into. Ask us for a free suburb and property report. It also pays to find out what developments are going up and whether there are any planned zoning changes looming that may adversely affect the value of the home you purchase. Are there amenities close by? What are the schools like? Drive around and make sure the suburb has good capital growth potential.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful and that you soon find the property of your dreams. If you’re in the market for a property purchase this Spring, talk to your mortgage broker early about getting pre-approval on your home or property investment loan. That way, you’ll be ready to move quickly when you find the place you want.

Happy house hunting!

This article provides general information only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. We recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances and your full financial situation will need to be reviewed prior to acceptance of any offer or product. You should always seek professional advice in relation to your individual circumstances. Subject to lenders terms and conditions, fees and charges and eligibility criteria apply.