How can I offer on a property when I haven’t tested the appliances? 🏠 FIRST HOME QUESTIONS 🤷♀
How exciting! It sounds like you’re getting close to buying a house. No wonder you feel a bit sick. It’s a big deal. I felt a bit sick the day I signed a contract to buy my first place as well. Also the day I had to give the graduation speech at primary school, but I’ve mostly blocked that memory out now.
Firstly, it’s okay to test everything at an open inspection. It’s not weird! And even if it is, you’ll be the weirdo with working taps, so that’s something, right? Seriously, agents completely expect that buyers will wander around turning on taps and lights, checking inside cupboards to see the walls behind and opening and shutting doors. If you end up at another open home, try it out. I bet the other would-be buyers join in.
Right now, you’ve finished the inspection so the taps will have to stay unturned. But! If your offer is accepted (I’m crossing my fingers for you), you’ll get another chance.
The offer process
In the ACT, the process goes like this:
- You find a house, go to an open home and fall in love.
- You make an offer, which includes any special conditions you want to add, (like ‘subject to finance’ which says that you’ll only buy the house if the bank gives you the money to do so). Your offer should be in writing to the agent—an email will suffice.
- The seller reviews all offers and accepts the one that suits them best (hopefully yours).
- Rejoicing occurs.
- Before the two contracts are exchanged and become binding, you conduct a pre-exchange inspection.
- If all goes to plan, the contracts are exchanged, and you proceed towards settlement.
The pre-exchange inspection
At the pre-exchange inspection, it’s just you, the agent & potentially a mutually agreed upon 3rd party (i.e. Parents, brothers sisters or best friend who just wants to hold your hand). This is where you can test all the taps, open all the cupboards to check for damp, flick the light switches, run the heating and the air conditioning…basically, you can be as nosy as you want!
The expectation is that the property will be in the same condition when you settle as it is during this inspection (which you’ll check at the pre-settlement inspection). So if there’s no hole in the living room wall when you do your pre-exchange inspection and there is one at your pre-settlement inspection, the sellers will need to remedy that, as the home is not in the same condition as it was when you exchanged contracts. I suggest you test all appliances and take plenty of photos. Knowing you, there will probably be a spreadsheet involved 😉
If you do find something of concern, you can either amend or withdraw your offer. Amending it might involve adding a condition that says “subject to the heating being repaired by a licensed tradesperson”. Be aware that the seller doesn’t have to accept the new condition, though. Until you’ve formally exchanged, they’re free to change their mind and accept a different offer.
Which brings me to my final point. It’s important that you keep things like this in perspective and that if a $10 light bulb might make the seller choose a different buyer, it may be best for you to fix it after settlement.
What if things go wrong?
You’ve hopefully read the building report provided by the sellers, so you know that the house is solid and there aren’t any major faults. Would it be the end of the world if you moved in and discovered that a tap is leaking?
Here’s a thing about houses that literally nobody tells you. As soon as you move into them, something will break. For us, it was the extractor fan in the kitchen, which developed a fault two weeks in and set off the smoke alarm every time we tried to cook.
I don’t know why that is, but it is. It’s like a child who starts acting out for attention when a new sibling comes along. Your house wants to know that you’ll love it and take care of it, so it tests the boundaries.
Why am I telling you this? Because I bet you that even if you have checked absolutely everything, you’ll find yourself doing a run to Bunnings for replacement washers or calling your local electrician out within the first few months. You’re a homeowner now. It’s part of the deal.
So, go to your pre-exchange inspection with a list of everything you want to check, and take as much time as you want. But if the only things you discover are minor, ask yourself if they’re worth losing the house over? Probably not.
Good luck with your offer and keep me posted!
- It’s fine to inspect lights and cupboards at an open inspection
- The pre-exchange inspection, which happens after you’ve put in an offer but before exchange, is your chance to inspect the things you forgot to check, like the heating. It’s just you and the agent so you can take as long as you like.
- Little things, like a broken light switch or a leaking tap, are good to know about, but are they really a deal breaker?
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