Top 5 things to look out for at open-for-inspections

It helps to approach a property inspection with a very clear set of questions in mind, but are there some that you are yet to consider?

shannon davis

Blogger: Shannon Davis, director, Metropole Property Strategists Brisbane

The open-for-inspection is a crucial time for home buyers.

It’s that half an hour or so when they can chat to the real estate agent, turn on the taps to check for water pressure, open and close doors, and mentally move the furniture in to see if it fits.

In my experience, it helps if you approach a property inspection with a very clear set of questions in mind.


This will ensure you don’t make an emotional purchase by losing sight of the practical considerations of the property purchase.

You see, it pays to assume that something is wrong with the house and then set about finding out what that is. Even the most beautifully presented property will have a couple of drawbacks, such as the location or the need for a few repairs.

The real question is, how big are those problems and how do you cope with them? Issues I’d look out for are:

1. Noise

There are a handful of obvious noise problems to consider, especially if the home is on a main road or smack bang next to a railway station.

But some noises only become evident after you have moved in, by which stage it is too late. Noisy neighbours can dramatically impact on your home life.

You can listen for noise during the open-for-inspection, but this is really only a short period of time.

I’d recommend driving past the property on a Friday or Saturday night. Get a feel for the street – is it noisy?

Better still, chat with the neighbours. Ask if they like the area. You can glean a lot from this kind of informal chat.

2. Location

Okay, we all know that location is the buzz word in real estate, as it’s one of the few things about a property you’re unable to change.

Not only is it important to buy into a good location – ideally a quiet, tree-lined street within walking distance of public transport and shops – but you need to buy into the right property on the right street.

Homes in which the courtyard or back garden face north are prized because they receive sunlight all day long.

But don’t be fooled by those agents who advertise homes as ‘north-facing’ – this isn’t the same thing, as it means the back garden faces south.

It is worth noting that homes situated in streets with other homes of a similar style tend to do better.

If you buy into a street renowned for its character, such as single-fronted Victorian cottages, then a home there is likely to enjoy greater capital growth than those in streets with no clear architectural theme.

3. Structural problems

Water damage, pest infestations, electrical and plumbing problems and a poor roof are among the most common structural flaws.

The last thing you want is to buy a home only to move in and discover it needs re-stumping or that there is an active termite infestation.

There are ways of assessing whether the home is afflicted with any of these issues.

Doors and windows that do not open and close properly are often signs of a home that has structural problems, and it isn’t difficult to see the signs of rising damp on the exterior of the house.

But the naked eye will only get you so far, so engage a building and pest inspector to report on the condition of the property.

It may have flaws, but at least you’ll know what you’re dealing with and can factor those costs into your purchase offer.

4. Points of difference

Look for a property that offer something a bit different.

Perhaps it’s a view that cannot be built out or an architectural flourish that enhances the attractiveness of the home. Maybe it’s a second off-street car space or a fireplace that adds character.

5. Privacy

Often when you’re inspecting a property, it’s difficult to tell exactly what it will be like to live in. and if there’s one thing we all value in our homes, it’s a bit of privacy.

When inspecting a potential buy, it’s important to ask yourself how private the space is.

Are you overlooked by a giant apartment block? You may tell yourself this does not matter, but that could change once you move in and want to spend time relaxing in your backyard.

Has the zoning in the area changed recently to allow for higher-density developments? If so, there’s a chance the house next door could be turned into an apartment block that not only casts a shadow but also takes away your sense of privacy. It won’t do much for the value of the house either!

If you’re looking at buying an apartment, make sure there’s some kind of private outdoor space, even if it’s only a balcony.

This list of considerations is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good way of framing your thinking when you are walking through your next potential purchase.

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