Do I need a pre-settlement inspection?


While the hard work of finding a property, making an offer, and organising finance might be done, there’s one final item on the list of things you need to do as a property buyer before receiving the keys to your new home.

It’s the pre-settlement inspection. So, what exactly is the pre-settlement inspection and what should you be on the lookout for?

What is a pre-settlement inspection?

The pre-settlement inspection is the final check to ensure everything is as you would expect in the property you’ve purchased.

And by ‘as you would expect’ we mean not better and not worse than when the sales contracts were initially exchanged.

Pre-settlement inspections are considered particularly important for a property which has been occupied in the period since purchase. 

They’re designed to determine if there’s any damage or problems in the property that might have occurred since the contracts were exchanged.

A pre-settlement inspection is different to the pre-purchase inspection which gives a buyer an overview of the property’s condition, including any structural defects, pest problems or building issues.

When should it happen?

The pre-settlement inspection should occur as close to handover as possible, but also leave enough time for any potential repairs to be undertaken.

That means they’re usually scheduled for the week of settlement, leaving a few days for any issues to be remedied.

In most states and territories there are laws regarding the time period in which a pre-settlement inspection can be conducted, while in others they can only be conducted if stipulated in the sales contract.

It’s best to talk to your legal representative or conveyancer to determine which laws apply in the state or territory where you’re buying.

Who attends?

The buyer should attend the settlement inspection, along with a witness.

That witness might be a registered inspector, real estate agent, or someone else who is familiar with the property and the condition it was in when the contract of sale was exchanged.

Either way, the inspection needs to be organised in advance at a time which suits the vendor.

What to look for

As we mentioned, a pre-settlement inspection is designed to ensure the property is in the same condition as when it was purchased.

That means walking through and around the property to ensure there is no additional damage, the property is generally clean and tidy, and everything is working as it should, including lights, fans, air-conditioners etc.

This is also the time to check that any special conditions in the sales contract have been met, such as the inclusion of non-fixed items or the removal of specific items.

To ensure that’s the case, buyers should bring their contract of sale with them and cross check the property against the conditions mentioned.

What if something’s not right?

If something’s broken, damaged or not as you’d expect at the property, this should be raised immediately with your conveyancer.

They can then work with the vendor’s legal team to have the problem remedied or negotiate a reduction to the sale price that covers the cost of any required repairs.

Again, it’s important to remember a pre-settlement inspection is designed to ensure the property is in the same condition as when the sales contracts were exchanged (not better, not worse).

If a problem existed at that time, the buyer cannot request it be fixed. You can only ask for things to be remedied if they were not present during your initial inspection of the property.

How we can help

If you’re considering buying or selling a property, why not chat with one of our friendly agents to understand the state of play in your local market?

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