Congratulations, you’ve bought a new property and all that is left to do is the pre-settlement property inspection. But what is the final pre-settlement property inspection and why is it so important?
Final pre-settlement property inspection
Your building and pest inspections went well, but there is one more task to do before getting the keys. That task is conducting the final property inspection.
Overall, the purpose of the inspection is to:
- Ensure that everything in the property listed on the sale contract is in working condition and that the property is in the same state as inspected before the offer and acceptance.
Why is the pre-settlement inspection important?
The time-lapse between signing the sale contract to moving in can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days.
“Things can change during this time, especially if the vendor or tenants continue to live in the property,” explains Kerry Cable, Strand Legal and Conveyancing’s Business Manager.
So it helps never to assume the property is in the same condition as when you first inspected it.
Similarly, the final inspection is critical if your settlement is conditional upon the vendor (seller) replacing or repairing items on the property.
Who arranges the final property inspection?
Your real estate agent organises the final property inspection unless it is a private sale. In that case, you arrange the final inspection with the vendor.
Notably, only one pre-settlement inspection can take place.
“But if repairs are conditional to the sale, you’re allowed one further inspection to check those repairs are complete before the settlement date,” says Kerry.
When should the final inspection be carried out?
Throughout Australia, each state has different laws regarding pre-settlement inspections. Generally, buyers can inspect a property one week before settlement. However, be sure to arrange the inspection date ahead of time so your real estate agent can ensure the date is convenient for all parties.
Who should do the inspection?
Ideally, you and anyone part of the purchase decision should do the final inspection. You may also wish to include your real estate agent.
How to conduct a pre-settlement property inspection
Generally, the best idea is to take your contract of sale with you for the final review. Ideally, you can refer to the agreement to check that all the inclusions listed are in working order. Similarly, you can check that anything the vendor agreed to take away (exclusions) is no longer on the property.
If any exclusions from the sale are still in place at your final inspection, alert your real estate agent immediately to ensure their removal before settlement.
What should you lookout for?
Overall the property should be neat, with all rubbish and any other waste removed (bearing in mind that the vendor may still be in the middle of packing.)
Importantly, check that any special conditions of the contract are fulfilled. For example, you may have asked the vendors to repair bathroom ceiling fans when you signed the contract.
Should you notice any additional damage like a new hole in the wall or lights not working, immediately flag issues with your agent. That way, the vendor has time to rectify any issues before settlement day.
The most common issues identified during property inspections include:
Damage to property
Note that damage to walls, flooring or other parts of the property should be listed in the sales contract and agreed to by the buyer.
Wear and tear
Buildings showing signs of ageing are acceptable, so you’re looking for any signs of new damage. Note that vendors are not required to clean using professional cleaners; however, the property should be presentable.
Items like doors and windows, carpets, curtains, curtain tracks, smoke alarms, electrical and plumbing connections and any appliances detailed in the sale contract are permanent fixtures. These fixtures should all be present and in working order.
The property should be clear of items considered to be non-fixtures like furniture, televisions and other removable appliances, outdoor settings and rubbish unless otherwise stipulated in the sale contract.
However, Kerry says, “In reality, this can be tricky as the owners are often still in the property when the final inspection happens. Technically, the owners have until noon the day following settlement to vacate as per the joint forms of general conditions.”
Appliances not working
The vendor has often cancelled electricity and gas services to the property before the final inspection. So to test whether cooling and heating systems are still working along with fixed appliances like range hoods, organise the reconnection of services before your review. But, check first as you may find that the electricity and gas supply are still functioning.
Specific items to check include:
- lights and electrics
- water heaters
- air conditioners and heaters
- door handles and locks
- curtains and blinds
- windows and glass
- pool and spa filters
- bores and pumps
- check for pests
- smoke alarms
- garage door
- remote controls for appliances
- windows and glass (no breakages)
What to do if issues arise
Immediately advise your real estate agent if you spot an issue during your final pre-settlement inspection. They will negotiate with the seller to rectify any issues. Also, immediately advise your conveyancer of the problems.
“Should issues arise, it pays to give your conveyancer a courtesy call to check if they’re aware of the problem. Time is of the essence nearing settlement day,” says Kerry.
Other things to consider before settlement
Most financial lenders request that you organise home and contents insurance before settlement. But did you know home insurance won’t cover you for pre-existing problems with the property? So if the vendor accidentally damages the fence before you move in, your insurance won’t cover it. Yet, another reason why conducting a thorough final pre-purchase inspection is so vital.
Summing things up
Your pre-settlement inspection is vital because it is your last chance to make sure everything is in working order and that no costly surprises are waiting for you after settlement.
Need more help with property settlement?
Strand Legal and Conveyancing takes the stress out of property settlement and ensures a smooth process for everyone involved.
When you have property settlement related questions, call us first. We are always here to help.
What is Title Insurance and why do you need it?
Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects your ownership or right to occupy and use land. It includes cover for risks that were not known when signing a contract.
If you’re buying or selling property, talk to Kerry Cable about having title insurance in place, so you protect yourself from any unforeseen events.