Are estate agents qualified to give this opinion?

A brief five minute browse through the Private Property web pages this morning revealed some interesting claims made by estate agents about certain properties that they are marketing.

When describing the properties they have used terms such as “Immaculate condition” and “sheer perfection”. From a buyers perspective these descriptions leads the buyer to believe that the home has no defects at all.

I wonder if any of these estate agents have taken a ladder and looked on the roof or climbed in the roof cavity to see if everything is in order. Most probably not. I wonder if they are qualified to detect faulty installations of geysers or inadequate roof structures. Would they be aware of the implications of water ponding against foundations and a host of other problems that home inspectors routinely find when undertaking home inspections.

In cases like these, if buyers find defects when they move in, would they have a case to take the estate agent to the Consumer Protection Commissioner?

“Immaculate condition” http://www.privateproperty.co.za/dorchester-heights-s692607.htm

“Sheer perfection” http://www.privateproperty.co.za/westfortroad-northshore-s573174.htm

“Exquisite family home” http://www.privateproperty.co.za/dana-bay-k24606.htm

“Magnificent and proud home” http://www.privateproperty.co.za/northoaks-estate-cape-town-s627990.htm

These very common, but risky comments by estate agents could be mitigated by ensuring that the estate agent recommends that the seller (or the buyer) commissions and pays for a home inspection. That way all parties will be fully aware of the true condition of the property.

If the seller and estate agent have not arranged a prior independent home inspection report, then agents should advise buyers to only make an offer which is conditional on the buyer being satisfied with the results of a home inspection report (to be arranged for and paid for by the buyer).

Estate agent Bill Rawson pointed out the other day that estate agents are governed by the Consumer Protection Act – because they facilitate the sale of the property in the course of their normal business.  Rawson said agents could be held accountable for not educating and informing the seller and purchaser of any potential liability regarding the property.

John Graham is the CEO of national home inspection company HouseCheck.  He campaigns for bringing increased fairness to the South African real estate world by ensuring greater transparency and openness between agents, buyers and sellers.     A large percentage of home buyers in South Africa are first time buyers and Graham believes that the best way to protect the consumer rights of these novice buyers is to encourage the use of professional home inspections to ensure that buyers are properly informed.  Graham can be contacted at 083 3109 766 or at john@housecheck.co.za.

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