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The deal breakers that could turn buyers away from your property

By Emma Smith

Article by Kylie Dulhunty

16 MAR 2019

It pays to know what property issues could be deal-breakers before you sell your home. Water issues are an obvious turn-off for would-be buyers.

Prices inconsistent with market perception, poor maintenance and embedded water and

construction issues are among the top deal breakers turning buyers off purchasing a home.

WBP Group chairman and buyer’s agent Greville Pabst said with Melbourne currently experiencing a slump, it was important vendor and buyer price expectations were on the same page.

“What I’m finding is that you can almost draw a line through October 2018,” he said.

“Just before October prices were still good but post-October prices fell off a cliff and it happened very quickly.

“In only three to four months the price of houses in a lot of suburbs fell by as much as 15 per cent, particularly in some inner and middle suburbs.

“A lot of vendors haven’t adjusted though and still have the mindset that their home is worth what it would have sold for in September.

“That frustrates buyers.”


1/ Price not in line with the market

2/ Poor maintenance

3/ Dry rot

4/ Cracked paintwork

5/ Termite problems

6/ Uneven or sagging floors

7/ Water issues, e.g. a leaky roof, poor waterproofing or drainage, rising damp or mould

8/ High owners corporation fees

9/ Cluttered, dark homes

Rotting window frames are a sign of poor maintenance — a big turn-off for buyers.

Mr Pabst said other factors that put buyers off included poorly maintained homes with dry rot to window frames and cracked paintwork.

These should be repaired before putting a property on the market, with Archicentre Australia’s most recent cost guide showing window replacement costs between $350sq m to $1250sq m for awning and double hung windows and between $500 and $2500 each for skylights.

Repainting costs between $10 and $25sq m for interiors while exterior timber costs between $15sq m and $60sq m to paint.

“First impressions are critical,” Mr Pabst said.

“Having an adequate level of maintenance is important and, as a rule, every seven to 10 years you should consider maintenance around painting, re-sanding and polishing floors and replacing carpet.”

Repainting your property can be an important step before sale time.

Bigger ticket sticking points for buyers include termite problems and uneven or sagging floors that indicate restumping could be required.

Both can be costly to repair, with termite dusting costing between $1000 and $1500 per house, while chemical treatment can cost between $2500 and $4500. Monitoring or baiting systems cost as much as $5000 per house.

“Sometimes the cost is too much,” Mr Pabst said.

“Restumping can cost $10,000 to $20,000 so it may be better to say the home is what it is.”

Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev said less obvious deal breakers for buyers included embedded construction issues such as leaks and thin concrete slabs.

“Water can be the major issue in any building regardless of what guise it comes in, including a leaky roof, poorly installed shower membranes, poor balcony membranes or sub par waterproofing to terraces,” he said.

“Water issues can also come from the ground or through the walls, including the classic rising damp in brickwork.

“Uncontrolled site drainage allows water to seep under a house, or under a slab, to cause damp related problems and even mould growth.”

Poorly maintained floors can be another turn-off — so fixing them first can be important.

The Archicentre cost guide shows a silicone injected damp-proof course costs $50 to $75 per linear metre, while re-pointing mortar costs between $10sq m and $20sq m of brick wall.

Mr Georgiev said another issue buyers needed to look out for was the use of waffle-pod slabs, which were prone to excessive flexing and cracking.

“They are engineered so tightly, the slabs are so thin and we’ve had people move in and try and jack the car up and go through the slab,” he said.

“If you’ve got that slab on perfectly stable ground it’s likely to be fine but a lot of Melbourne, particularly in the outer suburbs in the north and west, have very reactive soil and these slabs just don’t work well in those soils.”

Mr Georgiev urged buyers to seek professional advice and property assessments prior to purchasing

Owners corporation fees could also make or break a sale Mr Pabst said, particularly for investors.

“Fees can get up to $10,000 or $15,000 particularly if there are lifts, gyms, pools and concierge, which all cost to maintain,” he said.

“It puts off future buyers because when you look at rental yields, you’re in the range of 3 per cent to 4 per cent gross yield, so there’s not a lot of fat there for an investor if you’re paying outgoings at that level.”

He said cluttered, dark homes also turned buyers off but vendors could take a minimalist approach and remove clutter, create space in rooms and put items and furniture into the garage or storage as well as ensuring the house and outdoor areas were sparklingly clean.

“It can make a big difference without spending a lot,” Mr Pabst said.

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