When buying property, the most important step between signing the contract and settlement is the pre-settlement inspection. Buyers are entitled to receive their property in an equal or greater condition than when they signed the Contract of Sale, and with any chattels and fixtures included in the sale.

What should I look for during the pre-settlement inspection? 

We recommend you arrange your pre-settlement inspection around five days before settlement to allow time to resolve any issues or negotiate. During the inspection, consider more than just the property’s physical appearance when looking for damage that may have occurred since you signed the contract. Test everything and ensure it’s in working order. You should always check:

  • Plumbing
    • Taps for leaking
    • Sinks for leaking and draining
    • Toilets for flushing
  • Household appliances that are included in the sale
    • Dishwasher
    • Smoke detectors
    • Swimming pools
    • Oven, stove & kitchen appliances
    • Ceiling and exhaust fans
  • Heating, cooling and amenities
    • Air conditioners
    • Hot water service
    • Ducted heaters
    • Light fixtures
  • Doors and Windows
    • Ensure doors (including garage), gates and windows open, close, seal and lock

What happens if the property is damaged?

In the Contract of Sale, the Seller is required to ensure that the property is in the same condition it was in on the day of sale, except for fair wear and tear. As a Buyer, you agree to purchase the property in the condition it is in at the time of sale. If the dishwasher is broken prior to the sale and isn’t agreed to and outlined in the Contract of Sale prior to signing, the vendor is under no obligation to fix it before settlement.

Take photographic evidence during inspections of the damage and if needed a report from a qualified tradesman outlining the extent of the damage. If you are dissatisfied after your pre-settlement inspection, let your Conveyancer know immediately. We can negotiate on your behalf to have the damage fixed before settlement or reduce the sale price to account for any repairs you may need to do post-settlement.

What is considered fair property wear and tear?

Sellers are not required to resolve anything considered fair wear and tear, which is damage caused as a result of natural deterioration from routine use and ageing. Wear and tear may include small scuff marks on lower walls, flattened carpet due to furniture or foot activity or faded paint or drapes from exposure.

Fair wear and tear does not include dirt, filth, grease or significant damage.

Can property damage delay settlement?

At settlement, the ownership of the property is legally transferred from the Seller to the Buyer. The final documents of the sale are exchanged and the balance of the purchase price is paid to the Seller. 

If you (the Buyer) discover an issue during the pre-settlement inspection, settlement may be delayed while the Seller rectifies any damage. This can be personally and financially stressful for both parties. Delays may be avoided by negotiating with the Vendors to account for any repairs made post-settlement by reducing the sale price, rather than waiting for them to resolve any issues before settlement.

Rules and regulations regarding settlement delays differ depending on the state or territory and the terms specific to your Contract of Sale. You can read more about settlement delays here.

When it comes to property negotiations and potential settlement delays, it’s important to have an experienced Conveyancer to advise you on your options. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help on your next property journey.