Home inspection: SA estate agents are laggards
Home inspection is really taking off in South Africa but estate agents are still lagging far behind international trends in consumer protection. The majority of South African estate agents are still not recommending that buyers make a home inspection a condition of their offer if the property is being sold voetstoots.
HouseCheck, South Africa’s leading home inspection company, has been growing by about 60 per cent a year for the last four years. Yet only about 20 per cent of HouseCheck business comes from estate agent referrals. Sixty per cent of HouseCheck business comes from cautious and aware buyers doing their own Google internet searches and the remaining 20% comes from word of mouth referrals from satisfied HouseCheck customers.
So the question is: Why are most South African estate agents lagging so far behind world-wide trends which are tending more and more to protect home-buying consumers?
In the USA the National Association of Realtors reports that the majority of home buyers (77%) had a home inspection prior to purchasing their home. Among these home buyers:
- 99% of estate agents had recommended home inspection to their buyers;
- 81% of buyers instructed their agent to place an inspection contingency in the sales contract;
- 97% believed that the home inspection fee was good value.
John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck says that South African estate agents still mostly only recommend a home inspection if their buyers put pressure on them about home inspection services or if the agent is worried about possible problems in the house which may not have been fully disclosed by the seller.
Graham says while the majority of homes are without serious defects, most agents and sellers don’t know what to look for when putting a house up for sale. He says there are eight common problems which HouseCheck home inspectors routinely uncover in South African homes:
- Roof leaks – often not obvious during the dry season
- Deteriorating roof structure, roof covering, flashing, gutters and downpipes
- Incorrectly installed and unsafe hot water geysers
- The causes of damp on the walls and ceilings
- The significance of visible wall and slab cracks
- Deteriorating plumbing, drains and sanitary ware
- The safety of the electrical installation
- The efficiency of ground rain water management and control