Don’t miss a beat with our pre-settlement checklist
When you’re on the cusp of closing on a property, it’s a good idea to take a step back and take a final look around. That’s where a pre-settlement inspection comes in. It might seem tedious, but this is your chance to confirm that all items listed in the contract are present and in working order, and to ensure that any agreed repairs have been made and are to your satisfaction.
Think of it as a small step that will make a big difference in making sure your new home is everything you dreamed it would be.
So, when should you do your inspection?
Ideally, you should schedule your pre-settlement inspection as close as possible to the time when you’ll get the keys, but with enough time (at least a few days) for any repairs to be made. You should be able to organise this by contacting the selling agent, as they’re the ones who’ll do the walkthrough with you.
From the legal side of things, each state and territory has its own laws around pre-settlement inspections. Do a quick google to check if there are any limitations where you’re buying.
Seeing your place a bit earlier
The time between buying and settlement can feel long. But there’s a lot you can do to prepare to move in, even before you’ve got the keys. To get a head start, consider asking the selling agent and/or vendor if you’re able to do a quick walkthrough early in the settlement period.
Chances are you didn’t think to measure up the fridge cavity the day you bought the place, so this would be the time to do just that. While it might not always be possible, if you can get into the place a bit early remember to get measurements for the fridge, microwave and washing machine cavities. As well as exact dimensions for rooms you’re wanting to buy furniture for or cupboards you’re looking to furnish with additional organisation.
Quick tips for a great inspection
Apart from our very handy checklist (which you’ll find below), there are a few things you should bring to your inspection to make sure all goes well:
Contract of sale: Having a copy of your contract will help you check that all the items the vendor agreed to leave (inclusions) are present, and all the items they agreed to take away (exclusions) have been removed.
Camera: For most of us this is a default with our phones, but remember to take photos as you do your inspection. That way you can compare to any photos you may have taken earlier in the process if you’re unsure of anything. It’s especially important to take photos of any issues you find and share them with your conveyancer or solicitor so they know exactly what needs to be addressed.
Your checklist for the day
Lights & electronics
You’re going to want to turn on the lights when you move in, so it’s important to check that all the electronics are working and in good condition. Don’t forget to make sure you’ve organised your electrical and other utilities as well!
Power points throughout the property
Light switches in every room
Light fittings (including pendants and sconces if in the contract)
Note: Anything that’s not attached to the house or agreed upon in the contract (e.g. TVs and unattached speakers) will be moved out before settlement.
Plumbing & fixtures
Nothing’s worse than a leaking tap drip-drip-dripping away on the first night in your new digs. This is the time to check all the pipes, plumbing and fixtures are in good working condition. Pay special attention to leaks, both from the taps and under them!
Sink and shower taps (hot and cold water)
Washing machine taps in the laundry
Under basin pipes and plumbing
Exhaust fans and other ventilation
Drains (should be running clear and free)
Hot water systems and water heaters (could be shared if you’re in an apartment)
Appliances, heaters, aircons
A number of appliances will generally be included in the sale when they’re considered ‘attached’ to the property. Check to make sure that any appliances listed in your contract are still intact, working, and in good condition.
Oven and stove top
Rangehood and/or exhaust fan
Clothes dryer (remember, washing machines aren’t generally included)
Other fixed appliances (if included in your contract)
Heating units (could be gas or electric)
Air conditioners (if you have them)
Remotes for any heating and air conditioning
Remember! You should also make sure that the manuals and information for any included appliances have been left for you.
Flooring, windows, doors
Don’t forget about the little things as you’re doing your walkthrough. Make sure to check over the flooring, doors and windows so you’ll be clean, comfortable, and secure on move in. Remember to check that:
Carpets aren’t overly dirty and don’t have any new stains
Floorboards don’t have holes, signs of damp, or other damage
Floor tiles aren’t cracked or damaged
Doors and windows open and close properly
Door handles and/or knobs work and are properly attached
Blinds and curtains are there if included, they work and cover the windows properly
Excluded window dressings have been removed
Window locks and childproofing are present and working (check strata bylaws if you’re in an apartment)
Window glass isn’t broken or cracked
Any interior door locks are working (for example, in the bathroom)
Exterior door locks are working and in good condition
Note: Blinds and curtains are usually part of the sale. They should be working and clean – if not you can ask for them to be cleaned before settlement.
Make sure the following have been maintained.
Decking (check for evidence of pests)
Courtyards, terraces, patios
Fences (front, back and sides)
Outdoor taps (and hoses when included)
Pool filters, pumps and heating systems (if you have them)
Sheds (should be free of rubbish and in good condition)
Any under house storage (any rubbish should have been removed)
Rubbish bins (double check on your council website for what bins should be present)
During the buying process you and your conveyancer or solicitor may have organised special conditions or additional inclusions to come as part of the property.
If that’s the case, make sure you’ve got your contract handy and can check that the vendor has held up their end of the bargain. Oh, and this can also extend to exclusions as well – making sure that anything that should have been removed has been.
What if something’s wrong?
If you notice anything that’s broken or in worse condition than when you bought the place, make sure to bring it up with your conveyancer or solicitor right away. They’ll work with the vendor’s property team to address the issue by negotiating a ‘special condition’ in the contract. This means the seller is responsible for fixing the issue before settlement. If the issue can’t be fixed in time, the sale price can be adjusted to cover the cost of repairs.
Starting a new chapter is always an exciting experience – and it should be! But it’s important to make sure that excitement doesn’t cloud your judgment. A pre-settlement inspection is your chance to make sure that everything is in tip-top condition. Moving in will be that much sweeter if there are no unexpected surprises waiting for you!