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Purchasing property is a big financial decision, but many buyers fail to recognise one of the most important aspects in any real estate transaction — property inspection. While property inspection is a very basic task before signing a deal, real estate insiders say many buyers treat it lightly — a costly mistake that has led to huge unplanned expenses for many new homeowners.
“Dubai is still a long way behind many other places in the world where most property purchases will have some form of inspection carried out,” says James Garbutt, a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) Chartered Building Surveyor based in Dubai. “Property inspection is often not fully understood and many investors unfortunately do not appreciate [its] value because they were not given proper services [by] poor-quality inspection firms operating in the emirate. [This has] undermined the value of a properly executed inspection. However, the measures by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and Rics over the last few years are assisting the market in offering improved inspection.”
Garbutt says, however, that there is growing awareness of the issues and risks as the market matures. “Smart investors and property owners are increasingly taking property inspections as part of normal acquisition due diligence,” he says.
It is easy to make a property look good, but it takes a trained eye to see its real condition. Douglas Ralph, Managing Director of Snag and Inspect, says, “A good inspection will ensure that purchasers truly know the condition of the investment and what issues they may face. Some inspection companies can offer cost estimates for the repair of issues found during the inspection. This information is very helpful in negotiating the purchase price.”
Inspections can be tailored for various purposes. “No two investors are the same,” says Garbutt. “Typically, buyers have limited budgets, so the inspection scope is adapted to focus on the investor’s priorities.”
An investor usually wants to identify significant defects and issues that will impact the performance of the asset as an investment. “The inspection process will look at a wide range of factors that include the location, structure, engineering, legal, quality of finish and asset management-related matters,” says Garbutt.
On the other hand, end users are likely to be more focused on the defects and issues they are likely to encounter when they occupy the property. “Homebuyers will want to know the operation and maintenance costs that will affect their day-to-day budgets,” says Garbutt.
Newly built property could also pose certain challenges. Garbutt says it is not uncommon for inspectors to find a new property has not been adequately tested and commissioned before being handed over.
“Often there are potentially serious health, safety and fire-related issues that need to be rectified by the developer,” he says. “There are also a lot of teething problems and issues with the management of the property, such as matters related to service charges, sinking and reserve funds, [which] may not have been put in place or will be inadequate for the property. These hidden costs can have a significant impact on the returns.”
Garbutt says there are also legal issues related to construction contracts, owner’s association and registration of title that should be covered. “Checks should be carried out by purchasers in conjunction with legal advisers to ensure they will not be affected by any ongoing issues that could negatively affect the property.”
Garbutt says inspections can cost anything from a couple hundred to millions of dirhams, depending on what is required. A good property inspector will be able to discuss what is needed and provide an estimated cost that matches the purchaser’s budget and priorities.
“Inspections can cover a broad range of items that include building fabric, mechanical, electrical and plumbing services, sustain-ability and environmental issues, health and safety issues, property management, building documentation and information, property valuation, maintenance and repair, insurance and life cycle costs,” says Garbutt.
Snag it right
• Do not select an inspection company based on the lowest price.
• Inspectors should be certified by an international standard.
• Company should be registered with Rera.
• Ask to see reports from past inspections.
Source: Hina Navin, Special to Property Weekly