What are the deal breakers in buying property and what really aren’t [Searching for Property]

1 November 2021

When we inspect properties on Saturday, our knuckles bruise from constant ‘wall checks.’ Our knees hurt from constantly jumping up and down ‘checking the foundations.’ We look to see if the property is structurally sound despite most of us having very little experience in construction. What are the deal breakers and what aren’t when buying property?

We make reference to superficial finishes such as “I don’t like the tiles.” You start to deduct costs from what you would pay for the property because the current owner has not styled the home to your liking. When you discover something that is a deal-breaker, you simply walk away without a second thought. I’d like to challenge your thoughts and beliefs on factors we generally believe are deal-breakers in any property search that are stopping you from buying property.

Damage and Defects when buying property

Over time and use, things tend to break down. It’s a natural part of life. A property will always have problems that pop up from time to time. It is just a reality that we need to accept. It’s important to match the age of the building with the normal rate of degradation over time. If a property is not regularly maintained, over time it will show. The longer it is delayed the greater the degradation until finally, the property ceases to be inhabitable. This process takes decades of neglect. The use of the property counts towards the level of damage.

Many people are house proud spending thousands a year to turn their studio apartment into a palace for themselves. However, rental properties which aimto maximise net rent will tend to forego pre-emptive repairs or opt for cheaper quality finishes that degrade quicker. However the truth can be determined when you speak with a builder casually at a Christmas party. Most of these structural or major defects can be rectified for an amount less than what people may place as a bid at an auction.

You need to err on the side of caution with newly constructed properties. With a trade personnel shortage and strong demand for construction in the past thirty years. There were fewer tradies for more work meaning a five-day job needed to be completed within three days. Globalisation meant materials could be sourced cheaper overseas to maximise profit. Home owners could get more if they chose a style that was cheaper to construct. Instead of single-storey double brick home. They would choose a brick veneer ground floor with a timber first floor. These cheaper style homes without constant maintenance degrade faster over time than their double brick cousins which last longer with little maintenance.

Problem Neighbours when buying property

Like family, you can’t choose your neighbours, unfortunately, you really don’t get to know your neighbour until you have already moved in. If by some coincidence you learn about an unreasonably nosy neighbour, or a heavy metal drummer that lives next door. These are not significant factors to exclude yourself from purchasing property as the neighbours could be temporary tenants. If not, they are bound but the same rights and residential protections as everyone else. If neighbours are associated with a negative stigma such as public/community housing, then the negative effect of this has already been factored into the likely sale price of the property

Nearby Local Developments when buying property

A closer look at the NSW planning portal and the “DA Tracking tool’ on local governments websites will show a map peppered with Development Applications (DA). These range froma request to remove a tree to significant commercial developments. Most DAs within a R2 Zone low-density residential land will never really have anything that would impede the amenity to your land.

For any impediment to your property. The DA would need to be bordering the property and would have to adversely affect your light and privacy. If it did overly to what is recommended within the council’s development control plans (DCPs) the development would not be allowed. If the property did enjoy a view then DAs that didn’t border the property could adversely impact the enjoyment of that view of which you have no right to protest. This is the risk involved in paying the premium for a property with a view that crosses over multiple private properties. (See this article about views)

Heritage Sites and Conservation Areas

Heritage does pertain to a certain level of personal obligations to maintain the character of a heritage-listed home. There is a reduction of rights as any proposed plans to change the property are met with strict revision. Obviously, if you are buying a property with the idea to redevelop later on then don’t purchase a heritage-listed property. However if the property, its character, and its history are the reasons the property is special for you there it shouldn’t be any deterrent.

The suburb of Paddington is completed covered by a conservation area. This restricts changes to the façade of properties to maintain Paddington’s unique and Victorian character. This is the very reason why people are attracted to the suburb. If Paddington removed its conservation area status, it would lose the very characteristics that attract its premium prices.

Public Transport – too close or too far

There is a sweet spot between being too close and too far to public transport. Too close and there is constant hustle and bustle outside your door, but a quick train, bus, or ferry is only a footstep away. If you are waiting on a platform and you have forgotten your phone. You could run back home to pick it up before the train comes. Being too far from public transport means every journey must be planned and checked before heading out. The streets are quieter and safer.

The choice not to purchase a property because it’s too close or too far from public transport should not be weighted as heavily as it is. Bus routes and their frequency change over time. Public transport has become less of a necessary part of infrastructure as through the pandemic people have been working from home and will continue to choose to work from home.

Next time you are inspecting a home. Think about the things you don’t like and really think to yourself if you could potentially change those things or even live with those things if there was no other option. What you will tend to find is that you are not as precious with tile colours as you were before. Suddenly stock levels are much higher than what they were before which could get you to buying property a lot quicker.

Alexander Gibson

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