Property buyers are still getting caught by non-disclosed defects

Despite various investigative reports on Carte Blanche and general media exposure, private property buyers are still getting caught by non-disclosed defects.

Although the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) provides relief to most consumers by ensuring that a seller or estate agent discloses all defects, the CPA does not apply to one-off, private sales. These sellers are still protected by the old voetstoots clause.

While a quick walkthrough and a second visit to the property for a spot check of the condition of the home can help buyers sift through their options and narrow down the property they would most like to purchase, it is best to have a professional inspector undertake a thorough check and advise accordingly.

Eric Bell of Inspect-a-Home, (a professional home inspection company) warned consumers against signing a disclosure before getting the property checked by an accredited inspector

He said countless buyers nationally were left with extensive repair costs after signing the documents as they gave some consumers a false sense of security

“These documents ask buyers to sign off on a number of key areas, including roofing, geyser condition, and damp problems. Unless you are a structural engineer or qualified building inspector, it is highly unlikely that you or the seller will be able to identify any latent defects.

>Every day throughout the country we see houses that are painted to make them look good and unsuspecting buyers are then taken to the cleaners with extensive and unexpected repair bills once they have moved in – their dream house becomes a nightmare.” Delete and replace with :

It is not uncommon to discover that a home which has been redecorated and  appears to be in good condition, does in fact have problems such as plaster cracking and damp which have been temporarily masked with paint.

He said sellers were liable for latent defects that existed at the time of the sale but, by signing a disclosure document, buyers were signing away their rights to that claim, effectively making the defects the buyer’s problem.

He gave an example of a consumer who bought his home through an estate agent who tried to get him to sign a disclosure document which stated that the house, its foundations and fixtures were in good working order. He was told that the document was required for the sale to proceed.

Fortunately, before signing the document he insisted on hiring a qualified building inspector. The inspector found that the house had badly corroded galvanized steel corrugated roof sheeting throughout, rotten door frames, structural cracks and a leaking geyser, amounting to repairs in excess of R450 000. None of this had been disclosed in the documents by the seller or agent.

Bell said investing in the services of an accredited home inspector should be standard practice when buying property, as it was in other countries such as the US, UK and Australia.

>“To properly protect himself, a buyer should stipulate in his Offer to Purchase that the offer is subject to a favourable inspection report.

Remember you are not required to sign any disclosure documents. Even if the  seller or estate agent have made a full disclosure of any known defects up front and in writing, this is no guarantee that all defects have been noted. ”

He said an expert inspector should deliver a comprehensive report on the interior and exterior of the property, highlighting structural concerns and hazards and recommending potential repair solutions. In addition, on request, the inspector should return once the work had been completed to ensure that it was carried out properly.

Bell added that using the services of a home inspector does not mean that the sale will not go through but rather that the seller and buyer will have an objective assessment of the value of a property and any possible concerns.

Inspect-a-Home is represented in the greater Kouga region by Nigel Aitken and Nigel can be contacted on 082 465 3719 or on e-Mail
















Press Release by Cheral of