The Difference Between Pre-Sale And Pre-Purchase Inspection

Real Estate Agent Questions

What do you need – a pre-sale building inspection or a pre-purchase building inspector – and what’s the difference?  It could be tens of thousands of dollars.  A pre-sale building inspection is performed by the seller (or real estate agent) to identify any issues before listing the property for sale.  They may choose to fix any issues found, or consider them in the selling price (as long as the faults do not contravene Queensland law).  A pre-purchase building inspector is engaged by the buyer and should be completely independent of the seller and agent. A pre-purchase inspector works solely on behalf of the buyer.

What our Expert Andew Mackintosh Says

“I’ve performed pre-purchase building inspections for over thirty years and it’s only in the last five or so that I’ve heard stories of agents pressuring buyers to forego an inspection.  They do this by presenting their own pre-sale building inspection report, which tells the story they want to tell, not the facts that the buyer needs to know.”

First Time Property Investors

As the potential purchaser of a property you must know the difference between a Pre-Sale Building Inspection and a Pre-Purchase Building Inspection. Why?  In the current sellers market, the agent may suggest that a pre-sale inspection has been performed so a pre-purchase inspection is not necessary.  This is a big issue in the Brisbane, Sunny Coast and Gold Coast Property Markets right now.  This is 100% not true.  Forcing potential buyers to skip inspections has, unfortunately become commonplace in the current seller’s market.  

Home Truths About Pre-Sale Building Inspection Reports 

A Pre-Sale Building Inspection is undertaken for two distinctly different reasons. Firstly, a home owner could organise a Pre-Sale Building Inspection so they are informed about the true condition of their house prior to putting it on the market. By obtaining a Pre-Sale Building Inspection a vendor is often hoping to stem off any possible renegotiation of their house purchase price by not having any surprises uncovered should the purchaser of a property organise their own Pre-Purchase Building Inspection. Faults detected within the vendors Pre-Sale Building Inspection could be rectified prior to the property being put on the market. In an ideal world faults would be repaired and the house restored to a satisfactory condition, however the unsightly truth is that when presented with a Pre-Sale Building Inspection outlining many faults, its often amazing to see what lengths a home owner will go to in an attempt to conceal faults rather than rectify them. 


The second scenario, mentioned above in which a homeowner organises a Pre-Sale Building Inspection is whereby the report is to be subsequently presented to a prospective purchaser eliminating the need for the purchaser to organise their own Pre-Purchase Building Inspection. From a purchasers perspective, relying on a Pre-Sale Building Inspection Report organised by the vendor is fraught with disaster. Firstly the primary concern for a vendor is not the financial welfare of the person potentially buying their house. Rather some vendors intentions are often to obtain the most lenient Building Inspection Report, outlining the least amount of faults, whilst paying as little money as possible for the Building Inspection.

Timely reports

In addition, by the time the Pre-Sale Building Inspection Report is presented to a potential purchaser the report may be many months out of date and the condition of the house due to neglect or misfortune could have changed and would not subsequently be reflected in the Building Inspection Report. A purchaser relying upon this Pre-Sale Building Inspection Report could be saddled with a faulty house potentially costing many thousands of dollars to rectify. Furthermore, as the Pre-Sale Building Inspection Report was undertaken in the name of the vendor and not the purchaser, proving liability and obtaining compensation from the building inspector would prove difficult if not impossible. In a nutshell, if you are purchasing a property and are presented with a Pre-Sale Building Inspection Report, by all means read it, however, DO NOT under any circumstances rely upon it. 

Pre-Purchase Building Inspections 

As the name suggests, a Pre-Purchase Building Inspection is primarily undertaken by someone in the market to purchase a house. Provided a purchaser obtains a high quality Pre-Purchase Building Inspection from a legitimate inspector working for the purchaser and not the estate agent, the report would prove invaluable. Whilst the purchaser would incur the costs for the Building Inspection, they would at least have the peace of mind knowing that they could rely upon the report as the Building Inspector was working in their best interests. The Pre-Purchase Building Inspection will give you the knowledge and subsequently power. This report should give you invaluable information regarding the true condition of the house. Armed with this information you may choose to proceed with the purchase as normal or renegotiate the purchase price to more accurately reflect the condition of the house e.g. renegotiating to have the faults rectified. In a worst-case scenario if the building report shows substantial deterioration or issues you are not prepared to accept the report will give you the means in which to terminate the contract and subsequently receive a full refund of your deposit. 



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