Advice and Opinion

Inspections can facilitate home sales

South African homeowners should consider taking the initiative and commissioning a professional inspection report on their home before putting it on the market says Ronald Ennik, CEO of Christie’s International-affiliated Ennik Estates.

“Yes, it is a totally voluntary act of integrity and transparency that gives the buyer an upfront, unbiased, disclosure of any material defects,” says Ennik.

“But, by doing so, the trust that the seller builds in the interface with the buyer will more than likely speed up the sale process,” he adds.

“The seller’s initiative will also pre-empt any intention the buyer may have had to make his or her offer conditional on a favourable home inspection report.”

While it is nowhere near common practice in the South African residential property market at this stage, says Ennik, “real estate agents, who often avoid recommending an inspection for fear of upsetting the seller, should nevertheless embrace the process rather than balk at it.”

In contrast with South Africa, pre-sale professional inspections and reports on homes (by licensed inspectors) are a steadily unfolding international trend – to the extent that they have become mandatory, and closely regulated, in certain states and provinces of some developed countries, says Ennik.

“At this stage, however, independent professional inspections and reports on homes up for sale in South Africa are almost always generated at the request of the buyer – and can often be nit-picking in their nature. They are seldom an automatic prerequisite to a property changing hands,” says Ennik.

“By taking the initiative and commissioning an inspection and report, the seller provides peace of mind on the structural aspects of the home – such as the condition of the roof and foundations; damp problems; and wall cracks.

“Furthermore, the full, upfront disclosure of any material defects will prevent buyer comeback on some or other defect (real or perceived) after the sale has gone through,” says Ennik.

“Finally, the roughly R3 000 to R5 000 cost of a professional inspection of a medium-size home will be lost in the premium that the process will more than likely put on the sale price achieved,” he concludes.