Wednesday, August 22

Buying property online is a risky business when it comes to defects

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Remote buying, according to Greeff’s Mike Greeff, poses “huge dangers” for buyers as properties are sold voetstoots, meaning it is sold “as is”, even with defects.

Remote buying, according to Greeff’s Mike Greeff, poses “huge dangers” for buyers as properties are sold voetstoots, meaning it is sold “as is”, even with defects. If buyers can’t see homes before they sign purchase agreements, they can’t see the patent defects which may be seen in a physical viewing.

“There also might be issues with neighbours, and views impeded by neighbours, which would not be visible from photos or a virtual tour. There might also be other problems like a noisy street or vacant piece of land nearby that could detract from your purchase.”

Pam Golding Properties’ Basil Moraitis agrees that “buying sight unseen” poses risks as buyers are bound to the agreement, regardless of the suitability or actual condition of a property. They will have no remedy should defects exist.

Read: Voetstoots protects seller, but can’t be abused

           ‘Voetstoots’ clause catches seller on wrong foot      

He says: “The agent has an obligation in terms of our code of conduct to alert the potential sight unseen buyer to the possible risks of proceeding in this manner.”

Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of ReMax of Southern Africa, says: “I think of the time my wife and I booked a hotel room on the Miami beachfront. When we arrived, the ocean view described on the website was a glimpse of blue only seen if you stuck your head out of the window and turned it at an angle to see through trees that blocked the view.

“Also, the online description neglected to let us know our room would be above a restaurant open until midnight.”

While booking a hotel room is a relatively low investment, regretting a property purchase has drastic financial implications, so Goslett would not advise buyers to purchase property without viewing it in person.

“Digital marketing tends to highlight the good features of a home and exclude its bad points, and photos can be deceptive in terms of dimensions. A photo can make a space appear smaller or larger than it is.”

Greeff says there is “nearly always a negotiation” in the sale of properties, and it is easier for buyers to do this face-to-face rather than via email or over the phone.
Billy Rautenbach, an agent with Seeff Hermanus, was living in Dubai when she spotted what she thought was the ideal house for sale in the Pezula Golf Estate in Knysna.

Although she was familiar with the estate, she still inspected it thoroughly online and then bought it remotely. Fortunately for her, it turned out to be a great buy.

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