Beware the Lemon

Miji Michael August 14, 2021

A lemon is a property with defects or a set of issues that could be structural, legal or positional. It could include a leaky roof, termites, restrictive covenant on renovation, neighbours from hell or other possible hazards lurking about the property. So it could be better to buy an unrenovated property instead of buying one that is well presented.

What’s important is that you do your due diligence and get a thorough assessment of a property’s condition before you buy.

If you’re not careful, then you could end up buying a dud or a non-performer. So here are some tips to help minimise your risk of buying a ‘lemon’:

  1. Building structure – Shifting and movement can seriously affect a property.  Check for cracks in walls or plaster. The more severe the crack, the worse it is likely to be. Keep a look-out for cracks in external brick walls.

  2. Electrical / Wiring – These are dangerous as they could cause a fire. Look for blackened areas around power outlets.

  3. Plumbing – Plumbing issues can be costly to fix. Check for original cast iron or galvanised piping. Rusty pipes are easy to detect. Turn on the taps and test the water pressure. Check for damp areas which can damage the structure.

  4. Roofing – Cracked tiles allows rain water in and can cause serious damage to internal structures. This is also a risk where wiring is exposed to water. Check for a leaking roof by looking out for rust on the roof or guttering, poorly fitted or sagging gutters and bubbling or swelling in wall paint.

  5. Water damage – Water seepage can cause mould and damp floor problems.  Look for damp and wetness in the floors or walls, mould growth or spotting on the walls/ceiling, damp or rotten skirting boards and damp lines along wall bases.

  6. Pests – Termites can wreak havoc on floors and walls. If left unattended, it can damage the structural integrity of the property. Look for small papery bits of wood residue around cornices, door frames and window frames, gaps in walls or door frames, damaged floors and even swarms of flying termites outside the property. Bubbled paint can also indicate termite damage.

  7. Illegal/inferior work – Renovations and extensions made without council approval can be a major problem. Keep an eye out for any rooms that look like they may have been recent modifications. Insist on seeing relevant permits for recent building work or anything that doesn’t appear to be correct. Check with the local council for information. 

These tips help you to shortlist properties, but it is essential that you don’t skip due diligence. Get a thorough inspection and assessment of the property’s condition done by a qualified expert. Do this before signing any documents. This will ensure that you’re making a smart investment.

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