I recently bought a new family home and although it was mostly smooth sailing, there were a few things on reflection that could have been better, so I thought I would write about it and bring it to the attention of everyone else.
The final inspection of the property prior to settlement can be a great experience, but it can also be a pain in the you-know-what. It’s one of those activities that really is NOT dollar productive for the team leader (listing agent) as they are better off spending that time doing something that contributes to the income of the team. Now if you do not have a team, this is one of those jobs that can easily be contracted out for $20 per hour to someone who can do it a lot better than you.
Now, I can hear a lot of you saying, “no way it is a very important activity and part of the after sales service”. Yes, you are correct it is; however, it just doesn’t need to be done by YOU. Providing it is done correctly and in an orderly fashion, both buyer and seller will be happy. In fact, the property should be handed over by the seller, yes, the seller! It is their property, they know how everything works, when the sun comes in to what bedroom or family area, and what are the do’s and do-nots with the property.
Now that we have moved into our property, I wish I had the seller explain how everything works, as it would have shortened my learning curve for things like the reticulation and other bits and pieces. The other important thing that most agents do not realise is that if they test everything on behalf of the seller for the buyer at the final inspection, as most do, they are now responsible when the property settles as they are the ones who have tested it.
For example, if the agent tests something and it was working at the time but is not working after settlement, the seller can turn around and point the finger at you, leaving you open for disaster. Remember, it is not your property! It is the seller’s property, so I believe the seller should be there doing the hand over. Believe it or not, the buyers really appreciate any help regarding the property that they can get. They also usually get on very well at the final inspection and end up swapping telephone numbers on their own accord. A few of my clients even ended up becoming quite close friends after the sale and why not?
So, if the seller is doing the hand over to the buyer who needs to be there? Well really anyone who can get on well with others. All they need to do is facilitate the inspection to make sure that everything is in good working order. If there are any faults or things not working, they just need to make a list and make sure it gets rectified or notify the settlement agent so that funds can be held back pending settlement. My buyer manager usually did the final inspection, but our admin assistant was also trained to step in at short notice to get the inspection done.
It is crucial not to do the final inspection too early or too close to settlement, as it leaves too much time for things to stop working or not enough time to rectify things. The ideal time frame in my opinion is 1-week prior at a time that both buyer and seller can get together.
My personal advice is that wherever possible, sell the property as is where is. What does this mean? Well, you just add a special condition to the contract selling it “as is where is”. This is perfectly legal providing both buyer and seller agree to it. All that would need to happen is the buyer tests everything at their inspection of the property prior to making an offer. This way if something is not working, they can make an offer accordingly and it will be up to the seller to either accept or rectify the problem. This way the final inspection is only an opportunity to make sure the property is in the same condition as what it was when they bought the property, however there will be no good working order inspection.
As agents we sometimes take on more than we should. Remember, our job is to get the highest and best price the market is prepared to pay. Our job is not to know every property intimately and how they work.
Now that you’re no longer doing the final inspection, if you’re curious to find out exactly what tasks you should be focussing your time and energy on, make sure you register for my upcoming Real Estate Brilliance seminar. I’ll be covering the 9 Pillars of Real Estate Success and going over the 7 High Dollar Productive Activities all successful agents should be focussing on.