The settlement date’s been set, the removalists are locked in, and you’re almost done with the packing. Before you make your final payment on your new home at settlement however, there’s one last critical step: the pre-settlement inspection. This is the time to ensure everything in the property is exactly as the Contract states it should be and just as it was when you last saw it. In short, it’s about ensuring that the property you’re paying for is what you signed up for when your offer was accepted.
Here is a checklist to follow before settlement day…
1. Set the date for the pre-settlement inspection – usually around 1 week before settlement.
2. Ask the agent or a buyer’s agent to accompany you – it’s always a good idea to have an independent witness on hand. It’s also a good idea to take photos of anything you are concerned about.
3. Don’t forget the Contract – Use the Contract as a checklist and tick off the list of inclusions as you inspect the property. For instance, let’s say the seller agreed to leave the wall-mounted washing machine and dryer and it’s listed in the Contract. During the pre-settlement inspection, you would ensure both are still there and operational, and confirm they are to remain.
4. Have any pre-purchase pest, building and strata reports on hand, comparing the findings on the reports with what you see at the pre-settlement inspection to ensure nothing has changed in the interim.
5. Ensure the property is in the exact same condition it was in during the sales campaign – Check to ensure no damage has been done in the interim, such as new cracks in tiles, damage to walls etc.
6. Check the power supply including all lights and power points.
7. Check the heating, ceiling fans and air-conditioning, if applicable, turning them on to ensure they are all operational.
8. Inspect all windows and doors, checking that any locks are fully functional and that there or no cracks or breaks.
9. Switch on the taps and flush toilets, checking for any loose or broken tapware or plumbing that isn’t working.
10. Check the garden/courtyard – For example,some sellers have been known to dig up their favourite trees or plants to take with them. If this was not part of the agreement, they must be replaced.
11. Ask for any relevant documents that could come in handy – Examples include original building or architectural plans in case you want to renovate at some point, and user manuals and warranties for certain fixtures and fittings, such as appliances.
12. Ensure the seller is not leaving you with unwanted items – It is unacceptable for a seller to leave rubbish, broken or unwanted furniture or appliances at the property for you to clean up. You are within your rights to demand that these be removed before you settle. If they are on the nature strip, they are likely awaiting council collection (no harm in asking though to be sure).
What happens if the property does not meet all conditions in the contract or looks different to when you last saw it?
If everything is not in order, you need to advise the selling agent and your conveyancer so that the seller can resolve any issues. Alternatively, a discount on the price can be negotiated to enable you to pay for any issue to be addressed yourself.