Warning bells, or false alarm?

Warning bells, or false alarm?

Purchasing a property is often an emotional affair, however hard we might try to claim otherwise. Usually, it’s only the most hardened of investors who can buy without letting their feelings intrude.

Sometimes, there are elements of a potential property that knock it off your shortlist when, really, it’s just emotion clouding your judgement and you could be denying yourself a good option. But, then again, there are other points that are true red flags.

So, how do you know when to switch off your inner monologue, and when to go with your gut?

There are a few simple rules to follow to help you decide which properties to investigate further, and which ones to stay well clear of.

Firstly, take a look the way the property is presented. Is it shabby, overgrown, or cluttered? This is off-putting for many would-be buyers but if these issues are just cosmetic it’s worthwhile looking beyond the surface to see the true potential of the place. Its tired appearance might even decrease competition from other buyers. This is an emotional response and you should take a closer look at the property.

However, if the place looks dingy because it has stained walls or mold, this could be a symptom of a bigger problem like a structural issue in the roof or inadequate natural light due to its orientation or shadow from neighbouring buildings. These are issues that shouldn’t be overlooked and you should proceed with caution.

Properties that have a lot of open space around them seem so appealing, particularly if the area is bushy. It’s so easy to fall in love with a quiet leafy place, especially if you are not too far from public transport and urban convenience. But beware, those leafy pockets, or the oversized block of the grand house at the end of the street, are prized by developers. Check with the local council about who owns the land and how it is zoned. Chances are, this leafy haven might not stay that way and you might be sorry if you hang your heart, and your home loan, on it.

Hillside homes are lovely; a high vantage point with a pretty outlook can get you right in the feels. Take care though. Timber retaining walls are a warning sign of costly maintenance in years to come and movement in any terracing can indicate that the site is not stable. At the very least, you could be liable for sharing the cost of replacing the walls with neighbours above and below you on the slope. At worst, a landslip could level the lot. Trust your gut on this one, or at least the word of a well-regarded engineer.

As a rule of thumb, if it’s not permanent, it’s not that big a problem. But if the issue is integral to the property, like its position on the block or that the ‘park’ next door is land-banked by a developer, it’s a show-stopper.

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