5 red-flags when buying second-hand property

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Before signing on the dotted line, inspect a sub-sale property thoroughly. (Rawpixel pic)

A sub-sale property is essentially second-hand as it has an owner who bought it directly from the developer, or from another owner.

Whether it has been lived in or left uninhabited, there are things to look out for that could be deal breakers when buying on the secondary market.

It is in the seller’s best interest to make a property look good with minor exterior upgrades such as paint.

Before purchasing a sub-sale home, you need to learn to look past the cosmetics and spot underlying issues that could be expensive down the road to repair.

1. Cracks

Look carefully for cracks on the wall – both big and hairline – as this would spell trouble down the road. (Pixabay pic)

A fresh coat of paint could be a cover-up for cracks. It’s not just big cracks you need to look out for, hairline cracks can be just as troublesome.

Look carefully especially where extensions join and make sure any cracks are not more than 6.5mm wide.

It may seem like a minor issue, but oftentimes the more you dig, the more issues turn up. In the end, you may end up having to demolish the whole structure.

2. Water damage or damp

Although water damage can be concealed with paint, it can trap moisture in the walls that could lead to mould. (Rawpixel pic)

Damp in houses can be identified by a mouldy smell, flaky plaster and watermarked walls and ceilings. Look closely at the ceilings and the skirting boards.

Although water damage can be concealed with paint, it can trap moisture in the walls that could lead to mould.

If inhaled, the spores from this mould can cause a runny or blocked nose, irritated eyes and a cough.

3. Uneven or bouncy floors

Although water damage can be concealed with paint, it can trap moisture in the walls that could lead to mould. (Rawpixel pic)

When viewing a sub-sale house, bring a marble or a small ball with you to test whether the floors are level. You may find a hump in the middle of a house due to aggressive settling.

This could wind up burning a huge hole in your pocket as you would need to remove the existing flooring, correct the support column, buy a new floor and then reinstall it.

If the floors are too uneven, you may need to spend even more on foundation work.

It is quite normal to have uneven floors in older homes. In fact, homes in which the foundation has settled may even be safer than new ones where the earth has not had a chance to shift.

If the house has a solid beam foundation, however, you need not worry about shifting.

4. Soundproofing

Check the noise level in the home you are intending to purchase. (Rawpixel pic)

If there is music playing in every room or if the television is turned on, ask for the volume to be lowered.

It could be that the seller or agent is trying to mask the noise level.

You don’t want to end up being distracted by the traffic outside or hearing your neighbours’ every word.

5. Space

Although water damage can be concealed with paint, it can trap moisture in the walls that could lead to mould. (Rawpixel pic)

Another sneaky tactic sellers sometimes use is to put smaller-scale furniture in rooms to make them seem larger, or even playing with colours and angles.

Do not be fooled by a room’s appearance, measure it properly to ensure your furniture can fit.

All in all, it’s best to have an inspection before you proceed with the paperwork.

Other than the points mentioned above, there may be other little things that can cause big problems down the road.

This is not to say that sub-sale houses should be avoided. If you really like a property, you can always negotiate with the seller.

Be sure to be extra vigilant when visiting a property, not just to get a cheaper price, but also for your own safety in the future.

Most importantly, you can always check if a house is overpriced by comparing it with other houses sold in the area.

Portals like Property Advisor are a good place to compare prices and find out the median price for a certain area. Happy house hunting!

This article was written by Adlene Hanna of PropertyAdvisor.my, Malaysia’s most comprehensive source of property data, property analytics and insights.