Advice and Opinion

“Go for a defect check-up” Ronald Ennik advises home owners

“The concept of professional home inspection is not unlike a routine personal medical examination. It establishes overall state of health and condition; flags areas of concern; and recommends remedial action where necessary,” says higher-end residential property marketer Ronald Ennik.

“Unpleasant surprises are avoided in the process and peace of mind is the outcome – for both sellers as well as homeowners with no intention of selling,” adds the founder and principal of Ennik Estates, the Gauteng- exclusive affiliate of London-based Christie’s International Real Estate.

Ennik has been marketing upper end homes in Johannesburg’s Northern suburbs and Sandton for over 30 years.

He says home sellers should be proactive and embrace the concept and transparency of professional pre-sale home inspections irrespective of whether or not the process will become a legal requirement in terms of
the (now seemingly delayed) draft Property Practitioner’s Bill (PPB).

“There are now more than enough qualified home inspectors out there to provide the service professionally, given that their country-wide ranks have reportedly swelled considerably in anticipation of the proposed legislation becoming law,” says Ennik.

Formal report

“Although the time frame remains obscure at this stage, it is seems inevitable that every residential property sale will require, by law, a formal inspection report by a properly trained and certified, professional home inspector – thus making the buyer fully aware of the physical condition of the property at the start of the buy/sell process”.

“A by-product of the exercise is that certain defects flagged in the process may well present a cost prevention or containment opportunity for homeowners themselves, irrespective of any intention to sell,” says Ennik.

“Ideally, the full official inspection report – whether statutory or voluntary – should be available before a house goes on the market, thus allowing both buyer and seller to make informed decisions”.

“This will avoid the possibility of the buyer rebounding with a demand for a price cut – or, even worse, withdrawing the offer – on the grounds of flaws and deficiencies that were not declared upfront,” says Ennik.

“It is therefore important that the home inspection aspect of the proposed legislation will be made compulsory rather than discretionary.”

Key point

“An important point to bear in mind is that the inspection the draft Bill calls for is focused purely on the condition of the house and is NOT about verifying compliance with building codes and violations, which are entirely different issues,” says Ennik.

“A buyer’s worst nightmare is to discover costly structural and maintenance flaws AFTER the purchase is signed and sealed”.

“Meanwhile, it has become patently obvious that the current (informal) practice of requiring sellers to sign a ‘defect list’ prior to putting a home on the market is not only flawed but is now virtually obsolete,” Ennik concludes.