An inspection not to miss

If there is one inspection that remains critical for a buyer, even in a world where there’s a growing trend of buying sight-unseen – it’s the pre-settlement inspection.

A pre-settlement inspection, normally held either the day before settlement (or the morning of, but that can be tight), is a final opportunity for a buyer to confirm that everything is as it should be with their new purchase, before it becomes theirs.

This is the time to check off inventory lists (of any furniture or other chattels included in the sale), re-test lights and appliances and generally make sure the property is in good condition for handover. It’s important to note, this does not mean perfect (unless you are buying a brand-new home!) but rather in the same condition as the property was at the time you purchased – so if it was clean, mowed, and with everything working when you signed the contract, then it’s reasonable to expect the same. This is not the time to suddenly ask for an old box AC that was broken to start with to be replaced with a brand spanking new split system.

If something is genuinely out of order – an appliance has broken down in the previous three days, the house is still full of rubbish or generally left in a mess, then you have a reasonable right to recourse, to be requested via your conveyancer a reasonable time prior to settlement. The solution can vary from a cleaner revisiting, a quick handyman job or even in some cases holding funds from settlement pending rectification. Very occasionally you might have settlement postponed for larger issues, though with removalists booked and rental notices given, this is rarer than not. Keep in mind that what constitutes as reasonable can vary – particularly in times of parts shortages and long waits for tradies! Equally, a blown light bulb is something that can probably be done on your own time.

Decided not to conduct the inspection, or missed something at the time? Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot that you (or the selling agent) can do. Once a buyer takes responsibility for the house, a seller doesn’t have to rectify anything after that point, unless it was agreed to prior. And if it happened post-settlement (even later that day), unfortunately it’s one of those quirks of ownership – an experience I’ve had a time or two myself!

So make the time for your pre-settlement inspection, do your checks (or have someone do it on your behalf), and start your new chapter the right way.