Before Buying a Property

by : Sandra Prior

Before buying a house, you should thoroughly investigate the property. This will not only help you determine the value of the property, but may also save money in the long run.


Check for cracks in the walls, both inside and outside. Smell for damp and feel plastered walls for moisture.

Be wary of new paint or wallpaper - this could be hiding cracks or damp. Check for woodworm and rot if the property has wooden window frames, doors and floors.

Outside the Property

Make sure there are no roof tiles missing as this could lead to leaking and other water damage. Check for large trees near the building as their roots could damage the foundations.

Internal Conditions

Inspect bathrooms to see if they are well ventilated, and check if the taps work and the toilets flush properly.

Make a note of odd shaped rooms to assess what furniture to put into them. Look at the colors of the walls and carpets, to see if they match your color schemes.

State of Repair

Look at the plug points. If they are old designs you might have to rewire. Is the roof insulated? Timber needs to be checked for damp, woodworm and rats. Find out when the geyser was last serviced. Check the garden to see if you will need to fell any trees. Are there boundary walls? If not, and you have pets, it might be advisable to erect them. If there are electric fences, gates and garage doors, check if they are in working order and whether they need a service. Check the last time the borehole and sprinkler system were serviced.

New Buildings or Alterations

Check with the agent or seller if the new alterations are on plan, if not you could be liable to draw up new plans at additional costs. If buildings are put up illegally you could be asked to break them down by the council.

Servitudes and Building Restrictions

Many properties have unknown registered rights over the property unknown to seller and agent. It is always wise to ask if there are any restrictions or right of way to travel or gain access to a certain portion of the property by the necessary council departments or Telkom, etc.


This clause is normally included in most contracts which means that a seller is not liable for latent defects (defects which are not visible upon reasonable inspection), e.g., a leaking roof. A seller could be liable if he knew about a defect and fails to disclose it with intention to defraud a buyer.

Buying the Property

Ask the seller or agent as many questions as possible. Find out why the seller is moving. Ask about crime in the area. Phone the local police station for crime statistics. Check the growth in the area, check to see if there are many homes being renovated and improved which will indicate future value increases.