Red Flags to Look Out For in a Potential Property


When buying a home or an investment property, it can be very easy to get caught up on everything you love about a home or unit and forget to look at some of the potential issues.

In many cases, some of the major problems are not always obvious, and it’s important to get an idea of what you need to look out for before you begin searching.

Structural Issues

The most obvious issue you’ll run into with a property normally surrounds structural problems. These would be things like cracked foundations and issues with cracks in the walls, water damage or even termites. The other major one is often the roof. Basically, small things that cost a lot of money to fix.

For the most part, these types of things will be identified in a building and pest inspection, so it is always advisable to have that included in your offer. If buying at auction, it will be your responsibility to take care of this prior to auction day.

Air Con & Hot Water

Again, these are both relatively obvious problems that you can get checked out prior to purchase. In the case of a ducted air con system, this can run into the tens of thousands of dollars to replace, so it’s worth having it inspected prior to purchase.

Similarly, hot water units only last a certain amount of time, so if the system is old, it might be worth factoring in the replacement costs.

Cosmetic Coverups

With TV shows like, ‘The Block’, that highlight quick renovations, most people are familiar with the things you can do to spice up a property.

Unfortunately, in many cases, you are literally just painting over the cracks. Things like painted tiles in bathrooms are not likely to last for any period of time. And while the paint job might look nice, you’ll likely have to just deal with it down the line.

For the most part, this type of quick reno should be a red flag, or at the very least a warning that the property will likely still need work. 

Public Housing Nearby

While you might have found a property that ticks all the boxes, it is also worth paying attention to the neighbourhood.

If there is public housing nearby, this can significantly impact the value of a property going forward. So much so, that it will likely greatly underperform all things being equal.

It’s possible to use tools such as, to scan the neighbourhood for homes that are owned by the various state governments for public housing.

High Strata Costs – Hidden Fees

 If you’re choosing to buy a unit or apartment, people can often overlook the high strata costs that come with owning the property.

In fact, if you are buying into a building with things like swimming pools and gyms, the costs are normally very high.

Similarly, most strata’s have what are known as sinking funds, which put money towards large projects that might arise in the future. They also will at times have large capital works projects on the agenda. Especially in older buildings.

Be sure to get a copy of the last few minutes of the strata meetings and review them. You can also order a strata report, where a professional will identify any potential costs you might be forced to pay going forward.

If you’re buying a unit, the small blocks (four or less) don’t always have strata fees attached to them and can represent good value.

Wrong Zonings

These days any property that has the ability to be subdivided or developed is often marketed as such. The only problem is that sales agents often make mistakes or simply don’t really know how the various zonings work when it comes to developing property.

If a property is being marketed as one that has ‘development potential’, it’s up to you to confirm that this is actually true. Oftentimes, these blocks are more expensive so it can be a large mistake to buy something that ultimately can’t be developed or subdivided, even if that wasn’t your initial intention.

Speak to a surveyor prior or include that as a term in your offer.

Location of Services

One of the most common issues property owners face is not knowing when essential services like water and sewers run.

If you buy a property and you want to extend or even build at a later point in time, it’s important that you identify that these services aren’t going to interfere with those plans.

For example, if water mains run through your backyard, you won’t be able to build over the top of them as they need to be accessible.

Don’t Despair

One of the most important takeaways when looking at all these problems you might find is that none of them means the property is not viable to purchase.

In fact, if you identify a problem ahead of time, you are well within your rights to go back to the negotiating table.

You’ll be in a very strong position if you’re prepared to take on a problem property, that you know you can fix. You might even be able to use these problems to secure a bargain.

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