Homebuyers demanding building inspection reports

THE image of a young Australian couple in front of their newly-built home in the suburbs belongs to an era long past, with the vast majority of first homebuyers now opting for established properties.

In the mid-70s, more than half of first home-buyers chose to build their own dream home. That number has since crashed to 18.3 per cent, according to recent figures published in the Macquarie Property Outlook report.

And with this trend toward established homes comes another – homebuyers increasingly are demanding building inspection reports before they sign on the dotted line.

Acton Real Estate director Anthony van der Wielen said the trend had emerged as first-time buyers sought to educate themselves about issues surrounding purchasing a home.

“Homebuyers are more informed about the issues related to buying a home and, as a result, homebuyers are becoming more demanding about checks on homes they are interested in buying,” Mr van der Wielen said.

He said the trend was more marked in older areas, such as Fremantle, where he estimated one in five homebuyers in the area were demanding a building inspection report.

“During the past year, the number of homebuyers who are demanding building inspection reports has risen from around five per cent to 20 per cent,” Mr van der Wielen said.

Building Inspections of Australia principal Ray Pears said the number of homebuyers seeking a report was growing but estimated it was still less than 10 per cent.

“Homes in certain areas and of certain ages do frighten some people, for example the mid-to-late Victorian and Edwardian houses in Guildford, which are built on clay,” Mr Pears said.

“In Fremantle there also is a substantial amount of building inspections carried out due to the age of the houses.”

But Mr Pears said homebuyers should be wary when considering a property of any age or location.

“The fact of the matter is houses of any age can have structural defects,” he said.

“Having a building inspection carried out on a home before committing to a large mortgage can save buyers having to spend thousands in fixing up the property.”

Master Builders Association housing director Gavin Forster expected building inspections on established houses would eventually become as desirable on houses as an RAC check was now on second-hand cars.

“I think it will soon be used as a selling feature to promote a property,” Mr Forster said.

“And it gives the clients a feeling of comfort.”

Mr van der Wielen suggested homeowners looking to sell an old house should be aware of the trend and take the pre-emptive step of having a report prepared for presentation to potential buyers.

“The cost of a building inspection report is only a few hundred dollars, yet it could be a good selling tool if the home is in good condition,” he said.

“Even if the home has a few visible weaknesses and is still in overall good condition, a building inspection report will quickly allay concerns of prospective homebuyers.”

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