Attending open inspections is fun. You get to see the houses that were advertised a certain way on the internet by checking them out in real life. Sometimes that experience is positive – it looks even BETTER IRL! Other times you walk in and think, what in the crystal meth Santa happened here.
This leads me to write this article on “10 Questions to ask during an Open for Inspection”.
I’m not going to piss fart around too much so let’s get into it.
I’ll write a question along with why you should be asking it, and what you’ll potentially get out of it if you do.
- 10 Questions & Why’s
Question 1: Why are the owners selling?
This question is important for a few reasons but the main point is, WTF is wrong with it and why are they selling a house that has an infinity pool?
What this question will hopefully tell you:
1. The vendor’s motivation – downsizing, bad neighbours, upsizing, moving interstate etc.
2. If there is anything potentially wrong with it? – termites, weird smell, haunted etc.
Essentially, it’s going to tell you why you should or shouldn’t be buying this home. Now, whether the agent tells you the truth is another story, but you can always fact check this. E.g., If you get a building and pest inspection this will tell you if the house is structurally fucked or has some sort of pest infestation.
Question 2: What settlement period is the vendor looking for?
This question here is going to give you some ammo for your offer.
You should be asking this question to get an understanding of how quickly or slowly the vendor wants to sell the property. What if they’re after a 90-day settlement but your lease is up in 60 days? These are things you don’t want to find out when you’re signing a contract. Then you’ll get swindled into breaking the lease and paying fees etc. What a fucking nightmare.
What this question will also tell you:
– If the vendor wants a short settlement, this could mean that they are a little ‘desperate’ to sell. This
means you could have room to negotiate the price. (Be wary that if other people are offering on the house at the same time), having this info could be what makes your offer better than theirs.
– How well does it fit into your plans for purchasing? If you’re renting and have to give notice to vacate, in VIC you need to give a minimum of 28 days- you can give more but not less.
– If the vendor wants a long settlement, they may have purchased another house and have given a longer settlement period for their other property. They could have existing tenants in the home and you want to move into it, so they need to give the tenants adequate time to leave and find another home.
Essentially, this could help you negotiate your offer, decide if you will offer, and also tell you a bit more about the vendor’s motivation for selling their home.
Question 3: Has there been a current Building and Pest inspection completed, and can we see the results?
This question will potentially save you some $$. Expect to pay anywhere between $200 – $1,500 + depending on the size of the property.
This question will also tell you:
– What major or minor structural damage is on the property.
– What gross ass pests/vermin are killing the property.
– If you and your little tool-belt can save this home and restore it.
– Or if you need to walk away from it.
A lot of owners don’t typically do this themselves for the home. This is usually from a buyer that’s come before you. They’ve offered on the property and had a clause in their offer for a building and pest inspection to be completed. They’ve then decided to pull out based on the results or another reason.
Now if you’re looking to renovate you might not think that the results are a big deal since you’re gonna fix her up regardless. However, if you’re not looking to ‘bob the builder’ the joint, then you might decide to walk away.
Also, make sure the report was within the last 4 weeks. There is no point in looking at a report from 1989, when Bob Hawke was Prime Minister, or when smoking inside Maccas during a kid’s party was fine. Saving $300 on a 1989 report is not worth it.
Question 4: Have there been any extensions/modifications made to the property since it was built?
This question can also be validated by looking at the section 32.
It will tell you:
– If any activity has happened on that land (only the last 7 years) – Anything before that time you’ll need to contact the council. Chances are if it’s still standing after 30 years, it’s fine but a building and pest can always determine if there is any major structural damage
– If the owners had permits to do the work, and if any structures were built after the fact.
– If you’ll need to fix anything after your purchase it.
– If the owner is willing to fix anything before selling (could be part of your special conditions when you place an offer) e.g. “Subject to the removal of the small shed”?
Agents are required to tell you about any mods or changes to the home so you fully understand what you’re buying. The purpose of asking this question is straightforward in the sense that the reason you want to know these things is so you can work out if any issues need to be fixed.
With a lot of older houses, some people did the work themselves without a permit -(if there were permits it would be in the section 32). The regulation that after 7 years it becomes a permanent fixture of the property, and a permit is no longer required. Good time to also think about a building and pest inspection. If you have a construction/tradie mate with experience, get them to come along to the open and check the house out.
This can come with a lot of curly consequences if there is an unapproved structure on the property. You can apply for retrospective permits, though there is a whole heap of other hoops to jump through. So, do your homework and research before committing to the property if it does have any un-approved structures. These could include; Pools, pergolas, decks, sheds etc. The VBA and your local council have rules around this. Check out their websites.
Question 5: What price will take this property off the market?
You may not get the answer to this from the agent, as they might want you to place your offer first and then they’ll guide you to the vendors asking price. However, it’s a good way to sus out the asking price. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask you won’t know.
There are a couple of things this question can get you:
– The agent will tell you the price. (Easy way for you to plan whether or not you’ll make an offer, and for how much).
– Noticing the agent’s body language and response to this question could tell you more about the price than the figure itself.
– What the negotiation could look like if you are planning to offer.
You’re trying to assess whether the house is in your price range or not. We’ve all been there. We go to opens of properties that are a little out of our budget in the hopes we can place a low offer and grab it for a steal.
Question 6: Is there an Owner’s Corporation (body corporate)?
Okay so this one isn’t just for units/apartments – it can also be for some moderated estates. Let me explain.
The Owner’s Corporation, aka Body Corporate, is the manager of the common property on the block. Depending on each owner’s corp they could manage; common pathways, gyms, gardens, elevators, foyers etc. and some even cover building insurance. Stuff that’s basically shared between you and your neighbours. This usually applies when there is more than 1 property on the block.
Another time it could apply is when there is a strata title in place. E.g. Marriott Waters, Lyndhurst – You have to pay a body corporate in certain parts of that estate. This gives you access to – the library, gyms and a few other public spaces in the area.
Again, you will be able to see fees associated with Body Corporate (if there is one) in the section 32.
What this will help you understand;
– What $$ you’re up for before you buy the property and what inclusions the Body Corporate cover to see if you want to be tied to that or not.
– What you can/can’t do, and the rules associated with the Body Corp.
– All fees associated with Body Corporate. How often they’re paid, when you need to pay them, what it covers, disputes process etc.
– Most importantly: If you can have pets! – yeah, some assholes include that in their Body Corp rules.
This question could send you down a rabbit hole, so if you’re in the market for apartments, units, duplexes, or fancy/up-scale areas that have a Body Corp (Like Marriott Waters and Sandhurst).
Do your research and check out the Body Corporate online. If you grab the name of the Body Corp and location you could find out a lot also by asking for the section 32.
Question 7: Can I have a copy of the Section 32?
This one is a given to most people who go through an open for inspection. The section 32 outlines the restrictions on the land, the rates, size, bill info and more. You want this document because it will give you a great understanding of the block itself and if there is a shitty easement at the back that prevents you from putting a pool in or a cool as fuck shed.
Looking at the section 32 for the property you want to buy will give you a full land description, but if you want to you can also check out this website if you don’t have a section 32 readily available.
https://www.land.vic.gov.au/ – scroll down to property and parcel search and type the address in.
In very short terms it will tell you:
- Restrictions on the land
- Contract of Sale
- Special conditions by the vendor
- General conditions
- Vendor’s statement
- Due diligence Checklist
- Planning Certificates/building certs – if they’ve done any of their building work
- Water Bill fees and info
- Land itself outlined
- Property Report (This is the land.vic report, you can get it yourself before you get the sec 32 from the agent)
- Register Search Statement – if you note the “lot number” under the land description, this will tell you where you can find the land you’re trying to buy on the section 32. will also show you the restrictions and if any activity has occurred in the last 125 days.
- Modification Table – a record of all additions or changes to the plan.
Essentially this doc will tell you what you need to know, any hidden fees associated. if your offer will include/exclude GST, the history of the land and so much more. If you don’t want to read it yourself, it’s always a good idea to let your conveyancer do this (fees apply, so check with your conveyancer).
The agent is also required to tell you about any land restrictions when you are inquiring about the property!
Question 8: Have you had any offers yet? If so why were they rejected?
This beauty is going to tell you exactly where the sellers are at!
You want to know if you’re going to end up like the last person when you offer. The agent will guide you on this- remember they want the house to sell too because it means they get their coin in the end too.
The answer to this question will tell you:
– Potentially how much the last person offered and the price they were rejected for.
– How motivated they are to sell now that they’ve rejected offers.
– Intel on what price they are willing to sell the property for.
Question 9a: How long has the property been on the market?
You’re trying to understand if this poor bitch/bastard has been on the market for 120 + days, is overpriced. or has had no interest. That’s where you come in with an offer at a lower price that might win the property (this is not a guarantee btw, it’s just a potential).
Either way, it will give you an idea of:
– How you can place an offer on this property if you want it, and even an opportunity to negotiate on it.
– How stale it is and if the vendor’s reason to sell. ??
– If any major issues are stopping the property from being sold.
– A follow-up question to this one, (if it has been on the market a long time) is asking;
9b: How come it’s been on the market for so long?
That will give you any insights into what’s potentially stopping this sale from moving forward.
This question could also:
– Raise any red flags for you if the agent doesn’t disclose the true reason.
– Maybe it’s overpriced and the vendors won’t budge or come down in their asking price.
– Perhaps it has major structural damage, or a pest infestation.
Whatever the reason, you want to know the answer to these questions. You’ll be able to make a better decision on whether or not you want the property!
Question 10: Do you have any other similar properties nearby?
Maybe this property missed the mark but it doesn’t mean the agent doesn’t have other properties in the area available. If you liked the agent, and had a good connection with them, then why wouldn’t you buy from them on another suitable property?
What you’ll get out of this question:
– Another home that could be a better fit than the one you just saw.
– A better price/deal with another home.
– Comparative information, so you can understand why the house you’re wanting to buy is priced the way it is in comparison to what else is on the market. (This is also outlined in the Statement of information) – located on the property online advertisement (realestate.com/domain etc)
As the saying goes, there is plenty of fish in the sea. That applies when buying a home. Often we get our hearts set on one house and turn a blind eye to the others. Don’t be afraid to look around and make sure you’re getting the right deal for yourself!
In summary NOBS, I make no guarantee that you’ll win a property at a cheaper price and end up with a $1,000,000 home by paying $500,000. It’s all about knowing the right questions to ask.
These questions will give you some food for thought before deciding to place an offer on your potential home. Buying your first place is such a rewarding experience, try not to get too swept up in the fantasy and cost yourself bucket loads of extra money. You don’t wanna stay home on a Saturday night eating 2-minute noodles because you can’t afford your new mortgage. Take it from me.
Do your research and enjoy my take on the market where you can. Let me know your feedback/questions so I can make more articles about the stuff you want to read about!
You got this, even if you feel like you don’t <3