What to look for when buying a house

Those Saturday morning home opens can be overwhelming, all those cars pull up out of nowhere and a crowd rushes through the front door, pushing from bedroom to bedroom as the agent hurries around collecting numbers and handing out flyers. Before you know it the half hour viewing window is closed and you’re left with that sinking feeling that if you don’t put in an offer by lunchtime the place will be sold to some other family.


The saying goes that those who ‘act in haste repent at leisure’, and you’d be better off missing out on a house than finding it to be a money pit which is full of surprises. While the overall picture may be appealing, the devil is often in the details.


When buying a home, getting a building report from a qualified professional is essential to expose any major flaws, but there are some things you can quickly do to check out the quality of a place yourself when you show up for the initial inspection.


  • Turn the taps on – watch out for weak pressure or brown water that demonstrates old, damaged filters or rusty pipes.
  • Look for peeling or bubbling paint – bubbling paint and mold traces are a sign of rising damp or leaky pipes within the walls. If the paint looks remarkably fresh have a closer look to see if it is hiding something.
  • Have a look inside the cupboards under the kitchen and bathroom sinks – this will expose issues with mould and dampness.
  • Play ‘spot the cracks’ – if there are a lot of cracks running up the walls and they are bigger than half a centimeter you could find yourself up for some expensive repairs down the track.
  • Turn the lights on – there shouldn’t be a problem with the way the electricity functions.
  • Check power outlets – make sure there are enough and that they’re appropriately placed for where you’ll be putting your furniture.
  • Go outside and look up – check the gutters and the look of the roof. Gutters and roof need to be clean with no indication of rust or blockages (in the gutters).
  • Check the levels – are the entrances level with the outside decking/paving areas – this can be a problem in a heavy downpour as water pools and can flood into the house.


The fall of the land that the house sits on can also be a clue to potential issues. Land that slopes or dips can create dampness or even water problems. Houses built in gullies can be part of a natural watercourse which can become an issue in wet times.


Some other things to ask the agent about include TV and Internet cabling, insulation, hot water tank capacity and any recent additions or changes to the home.


A buyer’s agent knows what to look for in a house or apartment. For more information contact Amanda On My Side.