This week Berry Everitt, CEO of leading estate agency Chas Everitt has published a list of tips for first time home buyers. He says that before signing a sales agreement, buyers should ask every question they can think of about the property and preferably also get the house inspected by a professional home inspector. You can check out Berry Everitt’s post on the Chas Everitt website here.
What he says is so true. While I was sitting in a wintry Cape Town writing this post, a first-time buyer from Bramley Johannesburg phoned me with a sad, but familiar tale.
Two months after moving in to a house which they bought voetstoots without a home inspection they have already had to replace the gutters. Now they have discovered cracks opening up on the walls of the house.
Two builders have been around to quote and have told the distraught buyer that repairs to the walls will be expensive because the cracks are structural – caused apparently by a large tree growing up against the walls of the house. The builders showed her that these cracks had previously been repaired. This means that the seller surely must have known about them – and yet did not disclose the problem to this first-time buyer.
The buyer is upset and is talking about involving lawyers and suing. I warned her that if the seller disputed her claim she could be in for a long, expensive and stressful legal battle. She said she planned to fight for justice and also vowed to advise all her friends to learn from her experience and get a home inspection before signing for a house.
I hope she spreads the word. Too many South Africans still buy houses in ignorance of the true condition of the property. In the US 8 out of 10 pre-owned houses are inspected on behalf of cautious buyers. In South Africa the figure is probably less than one per cent.
Please spread the word. It really is foolhardy to make the biggest investment of your life without using a home inspection service to do a thorough check on the condition of the house.
John Graham is the CEO of HouseCheck and is also a NHBRC registered builder (though he no longer builds houses). John now dedicates himself full time to the pressing need of advising consumers how they can protect themselves by getting a home inspection before buying a house. John can be contacted on 083 3109 766 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.