Property inspections can be fun and exciting. Buying a property is a big step and viewing properties brings out all the hopes and dreams of the future as you consider each property and how it could fit into your plans. But believe it or not, the fun and exciting feeling quickly wears off after you've inspected a few properties and frustration and confusion sets in instead. Which house had the gas cooktop again? Was it the third or fourth house that had the extra bathroom?
If you’ve planned a full day of inspections and you’ve gone out without any preparation whatsoever, then that frustration and confusion is going to set in very quickly.
To make sure you're not wasting your time and getting the maximum value out of every inspection you attend you should be armed with these 5 things:
1. Camera - This is a no brainer really. Photos don’t lie and the easiest and quickest way to document an inspection is to take your own photos. It is by far the best way to document and remember the important features of the house, the main areas such as kitchen and bathroom and any other flaws or quirks that will help jog your memory. Of course, with most of us having smart phones with cameras included, it’s hard to find yourself without a camera nowadays, you just need to remember to get it out and use it.
Tip: Taking a photo of the front of the house and the letterbox before each inspection is a great way to easily identify which photos match each address.
2. Torch - A torch is very handy to have at an inspection, particularly if you're on the look out for a renovator and need to have a quick peek in the roof cavity or underneath the house to check the structure. Again, like the camera, a light is usually built into your smart phone so don’t forget to use it when you need to.
Tip: It’s also good to have a small key ring torch attached to your keys or handbag strap for easy access.
3. Tape measure - If you're looking for a very specific property, you know, to fit your pool table, custom built furniture or even your humble fridge, then a tape measure is a must to have in your inspection tool kit. Room sizes can be deceiving to the eye, especially when empty. It takes no time at all to whip out a tape measure and take some quick measurements to help you size up the suitability of the property.
Tip: There are some very cool phone apps available that not only include a tape measure but also a level, specifically for use during house inspections.
4. Pen and paper - There's a lot to be said for taking good old fashioned pen and paper to each inspection to write notes, comments and information about each house as a reminder. Doing a quick sketch of the layout of the property will also be valuable if you're viewing several properties in one day and you start to get confused towards the end.
Tip: Take a photo of your notes and sketches once you've finished at each inspection so you have a record of everything all in one place.
5. List of questions - Have a list of standard questions prepared that you can ask the real estate agent at every inspection. You don’t want to drive away and then suddenly remember that you forgot to ask about something. The real estate agent has a wealth of information and can give some great insights into the property and its sale history. Don’t forget though, as the agent’s primary goal is to sell the property you should always follow up what the agent tells you with your own research and due diligence.
Tip: Don’t forget to also leave your details with the agent along with a clear indication of what type of property you're looking for. If the one you’ve just viewed is not suitable the agent may have another listing that is better suited.
Having these five items at the very minimum will go a long way to making sure you're getting maximum benefit out of your property inspections and you're not wasting valuable time having to go back and check things that you could have easily have documented the first time around. Being proactive and well prepared will put you ahead of the competition at each and every inspection.
Katie Marshall is an Interior Designer, Project Manager, Property Investment Advisor, Author and Founder of Chicks and Mortar®. Chicks and Mortar® provides property education to women empowering them to make smart property choices. Find out more at chicksandmortar.com.au or buy the Chicks and Mortar the book here.
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