Remain vigilant and be aware of real estate’s dirty little tricks to hide issues

Homebuyers need to be more vigilant than ever as real estate agents and sellers work harder to sell properties for maximum dollar in 2022. Despite inflationary pressures properties will still achieve good gains in some areas as long as their fundamentals are sound.

Good properties that are well located with solid features will continue to do well however properties that carry inherent issues such as the wrong aspect, bad outlook, busy street or building issues will find it harder to sell in the 2022 market. Real estate agents will turn to clever little dirty tricks to try and hide concerning problems so as to offload properties.

Buyers need to be aware and understand what to look out for in order to avoid purchasing a problematic property. There is nothing worse than moving into your new home only to find after a few weeks that your dream home is full of problems and requires multiple repairs.

How do you avoid bad property in this ingenious market?

Here is a list of tips to help buyers avoid problematic properties;

Beware of busy roads

Real estate agents are trained to showcase a property at its best and this means scheduling appointments when obvious problems are least noticeable. If a property is only open for inspection mid-morning, make an appointment on a different day at a different time.

If the property is situated on a busy road, attend the property during peak periods to ensure you are getting a feel for the real amount of traffic the property may experience. If the real estate agent tries to dictate the time without being flexible, then this should be a red flag.

I have heard horror stories of people selling their homes because of neighbours who ran noisy businesses next door late into the night. Be on the look out for why they sold.

Check natural light

Have you ever noticed that when properties are open for inspection that they have all their lights on to give the feeling of more light. This is a huge red flag. Make an appointment to see the property during a different time of day and turn the lights off. You may find that rooms are actually very dark and don’t get enough natural light in them at all.

Can this be fixed or will it require structural change to install windows or knock out walls? These are the types of things you need to know before writing up that check.

Fresh coat of paint

Preparing a home for sale is important however some things may have a more sinister element to them. If a home has been freshly painted throughout, then you need to assume that the seller is trying to hide something, and in most cases, they’re. Issues like moisture markings on the walls and ceilings and mould are often covered up with a fresh coat of paint.

Significant issues such as structural issues are often bogged, sanded and painted too. As a buyer’s agent, I never walk into a new property to view for a client without taking my moisture reading device and a digital tape measure. Simple devices such as a moisture reader can tell you whether there are potential water leaks or moisture and mildew issues.

Older homes are especially prone to these issues. Plumbing and piping issues can be very expensive, and mould is a serious health issue, so it is important to check these things.

New light and electrical fittings

New light and electrical switches can give the effect of new and updated electrical wiring throughout the property. Sadly new fittings often mean that while the light switch on the wall is new, the wiring behind may be old and faulty. It is important to ensure that full electrical checks are undertaken as part of the property consideration process.

Pot plants and artwork

Staged properties are always neatly presented with lovely prints. Unfortunately they are often used to hide significant issues both inside the property as well as around the patio and garden areas – issues such as cracked tiles, walls with holes, broken drains and other issues.

While these things may not seem like big issues, it can all add up having to fund the cost of fixing these things once you move in. So be thorough when checking around these areas.

Fragrant flowers

In the old days, agents told you to put on a pot of coffee and bake some fresh cookies to get a welcoming smell moving through the house for house inspections. Today, agents tell sellers to use flowers and plug-in scent diffusers and they open windows and turn fans on.

Beware. These tactics are designed to hide bad smells. Arrange to visit the property at another time and ask the agent to ensure the home has not been ventilated beforehand. Many homes have bad smells and it is difficult to get rid of them without big investigations.


Dan Sofo is the founder and CEO of Unicorn Buyer’s Agents, and is an expert in the property market trends of Sydney. He is a leading buyer’s agent who helps people to find and purchase the ideal property and his services are in hot demand.