Wise sellers have their property Move In Certified!
You will probably be selling your house with the “Voetstoots Clause” in the Offer to Purchase. But, if you think you are fully protected against any comebacks for latent defects you are wrong!
Under the law, you have a duty to disclose the defects on the property that you are aware of. Your estate agent may also point out defects that need to be corrected.
If you don’t disclose those defects you may be liable to pay for the correction of the defects after the property has been sold.
As a home seller, you should have your home “Move-in Certified”! Move-in certified homes sell better, faster and for higher prices!
Besides being a great marketing tool, the seller’s home inspection report is also the “Seller’s Disclosure”. This safeguards you against any later legal action that the buyer may want to bring against you for both latent and patent defects!
Do the wise thing, have your home inspected before you sell it!
10 Things A Seller Should Do Before Having Your Home Inspected
Home sellers should prepare for the likelihood of a home inspection in advance. Moreover, getting your house ready for a home inspection helps to prevent delays and can prevent surprises. Also, a seller doesn’t need a home inspector to break fixtures or cause damage because the seller was ill-prepared.
In South Africa, sellers are required by law to providefull disclosure of the condition of the property. However, buyers usually pay for their home inspection.
Whether you’ve decided to produce a seller’s home inspection report for buyers or expect the buyer’s home inspector to show up for a buyer’s inspection, the best thing is to be well prepared.
1)Clean the house and swimming pool
Sellers should always try to create a good first impression. Notably, clean homes and pools are an indication of how you maintain the house and property.
Don’t underestimate the importance of making a good impression. Don’t make the mistake of thinking inspectors see past stuff.
2)The Inspector will be on time
You can expect the home inspector to be on time. Therefore, if an inspector makes an appointment with you at 9:30 a.m., have the house ready for inspection at 9 a.m.
If you’re trying to increase the resale value of your home, there are probably more than a few side projects you want to finish before putting the house on the market for all to see. While some of these, like any kind of roof maintenance, are true renovations that likely require the help and vision of an expert, there remain some weekend projects that you can complete in a single weekend. Here are a few tips to help increase the resale value of your house.
Fix Outdoor Landscaping to Improve Curb Appeal
The first thing potential buyers will see when they walk up to your home is the landscaping. Do trees and bushes look overgrown? Is the lawn too long, or are there unsightly stumps and plants littering the yard? A little prevention in the form of weeding, gardening, watering, and trimming will have the front of your house looking immaculate and inviting to potential buyers. According to Home-Dzine, your lawn is probably one of the first things someone will notice about your house. Therefore, keep your grass trimmed, remove dead branches, and plant some flowers for a pop of colour.
Power washing the walls and the driveway is a great way to make your home look well cared for. This allows your house to stand out in a positive way from the rest of the houses on your street. Moreover, Gutters are often overlooked when cleaning up the outside of a home because you can’t see them from ground level. But rest assured it will make a big difference.
Any Necessary Repairs
Repairs can easily be completed in the span of a weekend. In addition, to ensure that there are no visible red flags, have a walkthrough or seller’s inspection. This will pinpoint any areas that need to be worked on prior to selling the home. Things that may be simply annoying to you might be deal-breakers for a buyer. In particular, leaky taps, mould damage, or a faulty light switch could be the difference between that SOLD sign and spending weeks or even months languishing on the market.
When Estate Agents Should Insist On An Independent Inspection
The EAAB (Estate Agents Affairs Board) encourages buyers to have a home inspection. However, which buyer ever reads the articles on the EAAB’s website? Maybe estate agents read the articles and the EAAB encourages estate agents to advise buyers to have an independent property inspection?
Most estate agents prefer not to have an independent property inspection, mostly because of concerns over defects that may make the sale fall through and because of the cost involved.
Estate agents should know better! Insisting on an independent property inspection may save the agent from strained relationships with both sellers and buyers. Furthermore, an independent inspection will prevent damage to their reputation or possibly even costly liability later on, should problems occur with the condition of the property.
An independent home or property inspection doesn’t kill a deal by forcing sellers to disclose defects that they wouldn’t otherwise have known about. Any defect that is serious enough to kill a real estate transaction is best discovered before it can kill the deal or result in litigation at a later stage.
Be careful with the voetstoots clause! You are not protected from defects by the Consumer Protection Act with the voetstoots clause in an Offer To Purchase unless you are buying from a developer or builder. All the offer’s to purchase I have come across of all from estate agents and lawyers have the voetstoots clause. You can have the estate agent remove the clause but your offer will most likely be rejected!
In certain instances of concealed defects, you have recourse to the law. A legal determination will need to be made as to whether a defect was deliberately concealed or not. This will determine who is liable for costs. This can be expensive!
But you can reduce the risk with the Voetstoots clause if you make yourself aware and do the following:
Voetstoots and Patent and Latent Defects
A patent defect is clearly visible upon inspection. This may include items such as a crack in a wall or window, chipped plasterwork etc. The offer to purchase should clearly state who is responsible for repair or replacement.
A cursory inspection does not easily pick up a latent defect, e.g. a faulty geyser, a damp area concealed behind furniture or fresh paint, or a leaking roof.
Common law states that the seller is responsible for all latent defects for a period of three years from the date of sale.
The seller should supply all warranties and documentation of repairs and maintenance on the transfer of the property. Make sure that you are aware of all patent defects!
The seller and the voetstoots clause
Sellers stipulate that the property is for sale ‘as is’ (“Voetstoots”) in the belief that they can avoid expensive repairs. However, the seller remains responsible for any deliberately concealed latent flaw or defect.
The difficulty arises in that the burden of proof lies with you, the buyer, as to whether the seller knew, or ought to have known of the latent defects. This also determines whether you can cancel the contract, or claim some repayment from the seller.
You and the voetstoots clause
The offer to purchase document or seller’s disclosure should contain all detected faults. The fault records must also state which party will be responsible for repairs.
You can insist on certain guarantees, e.g. under ‘Special Conditions’. For instance, you can stipulate that; “The Seller warrants that the swimming pool on the property is not leaking at the date of signature hereof by him”.
The estate agent (property practitioner) and the voetstoots clause
An important document is the “Seller’s Property Disclosure” which should form part of the offer to purchase. Sellers should disclose problems in the house to the best of their belief and knowledge. However, what the seller “believes” and what is actually true often diverges a lot!
The estate agent is a facilitator and not a party to the contract. Therefore, you can only prosecute an estate agent in terms of the Consumer Protection Act. This applies if the agents ‘supply’ of service was in contravention of the CPA.
If you are unhappy with the service given by the estate agent or estate company, or you suspect that they have violated either the law or the code of conduct governing the industry, it is always better to try and resolve the problem with them first. If you are still not happy you can approach the Estate Agency Affairs Board. The property practitioner’s ombudsman still has to be appointed as required by the Property Practitioners Act.
Protection against the voetstoots clause
With a home inspection report by THE HOME DETECTIVE, you get an accurate, comprehensive description of the true condition of the home you intend to purchase. You, the buyer, the seller, the estate agent and conveyancers can thus be a party to a fair deal.
The cost of the inspection is normally for your account.