Homebuyers should not confuse a bank’s valuation of a property with a home inspection. Bank evaluations are performed to see whether there is sufficient value in the property to secure a home loan, and not to identify possible defects.
“In the US,” says Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group, “evaluation and home inspection are combined in one process termed appraisal – and by law, all homes have to pass appraisal before a sale can proceed.
“However in SA the functions are separate, and the sale is usually not conditional on the home passing a professional inspection for faults or defects, unless the prospective buyer writes that into the sale agreement.
“The bank evaluator works for the bank, not the homebuyer, and in fact many evaluations are performed electronically these days, so the evaluator may not even visit the property.”
The purpose of a home inspection, on the other hand, is to protect the potential buyer against the high cost of repairing unforeseen or unknown problems. And, he says, such inspections are especially recommended for elderly buyers living on fixed incomes, parents with young children, and first-time buyers with minimal experience of the property market.
“Inspection can also help buyers decide between newly-built or pre-owned homes, because the general quality of homes cannot be evaluated purely on age. With new homes, there is the advantage of having the builder’s warranty, as well as the fact that new construction must comply with the National Building Regulations covering safety, structural stability and sustainability.
“With pre-owned homes, there are more variables. But in all eras of home construction, there have been those that reflect quality workmanship and others that do not. And all homes, new or old, harbour some defects not apparent to the untrained eye.
“It is only once these are identified by a professional inspector that buyers can make a properly informed decision about which home to buy.”
- Meanwhile, Kotzé, says, buyers taking their a first look around a home they are interested in should keep an eye out for problems and deficiencies.