Purchasing a Property: The Final Walk-Through

  • 15.December 2011
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It’s normal to be excited when buying real estate in Malta as this is not something you do every day. One may very well get carried away and purchase a property and realise later that they have overlooked the fact that the property had latent damages or hidden defects not visible to the layman’s eye, which could, a year down the line, turn your life completely upside down.

What you thought might have been a house you’d like to settle in for a substantial number of years turns out to be a property you may want to get rid of just after a few years. And what’s the cause for such a decision?

On purchasing a property, many – especially if they are first time buyers in Malta – fail to anticipate certain little defects that may turn out to be greater defects later on. This is due to lack of experience and the fact that you did not consult an architect which is always recommended when buying a property in Malta or anywhere else for that matter.

Rain water gradually seeping through your ceilings will eventually create humidity leading to mould, and as a result may ruin most of your furniture, and most of all can create health problems such as asthma.

There is at least one property owner I am aware of that had problems on purchasing his first property. It turned out later that the contractor responsible for laying the membrane did a nasty job, leaving repercussions for the new home owner to face. Although the building contractors are liable for any damages due to negligence, facing this scenario can be avoided by following a few simple steps.

• For starters, it is important that, when viewing the property, you don’t just view it once or twice.
• Take friends or relatives along with you because, surprisingly enough, they might spot something you haven’t noticed since you are so enthusiastic and excited to buy.
• Another priority should be that of hiring an experienced architect who has an eye for such defects as opposed to just walking through your apartment.

Bringing in a professional to make sure that the property is structurally sound is a common practice. Home owners or even a contractor may not even be aware of these defects and therefore you should never feel uncomfortable for looking after your own interests.

Let’s face it, if you purchase a car, you don’t ask its owner to dismantle the car’s engine beforehand – you take the car to your mechanic:

• One other thing you must look out for is that you have the necessary ventilation in every room of your home-to-be.
• Make sure that the membrane laid on your roof is appropriate. If you happen to be purchasing an apartment underneath a penthouse, for instance, you also must ensure that the the rain water gutters’ surroundings are properly sealed to avoid leaks.
• Cracks in the ceilings are also a cause for concern. Some hair-line cracks might turn out to be of no potential danger but others may be of significant importance and worth following up.
• When a defect could have been discovered by the buyer through thorough inspection (a “patent defect”), the buyer cannot possibly succeed in a claim against the seller unless the seller actively took steps to hide the defect from a normal inspection.
• And last but not least, if it’s an apartment you are purchasing, try to find out if any residents of the said block ever experienced any mishaps e.g. water leaks, or any structural damage.

Hiring a professional Malta real estate agent is always recommended when buying or selling a property in Malta. You will be able to draw on their experience and they should assist you during this process through:

• Asking the right specific questions about such matters regarding the structure of the property, the roof system, any water seepage, the condition of mechanical systems and other equipment;
• Carefully analysing the condition of each of the components of the property;
• Verifying the condition of a component of the property where the buyer may be of the opinion that a problem may exist;
• Enlisting the services of a professional inspector to assist in determining the condition of a property.