I've been working with a few clients recently who are looking for renovated properties, since they'd prefer something move-in-ready, as opposed to a fixer upper. I can relate--renovating can be stressful, budgets can be over-run, and it is time consuming.
Whether you’re browsing open houses, or touring with your Realtor®, you will probably notice that renovations in Vancouver range from high-end to “lipstick on a pig”. One Seller will spend a fortune to renovate professionally (presumably originally intended for his own enjoyment), while another is a weekend warrior who has managed to make some decent updates—until you put on your glasses.Then there are the “flippers”. How do you know that a Seller hasn’t just laid flooring over asbestos tiles, instead of remediating, or that water ingress was dealt with before putting in new tiles in a bathroom, for example?
Get the Sales History of the property from your Realtor®. In hot markets, people tend to buy, renovate, and flip homes quickly at a higher price for a lucrative profit.Flipped properties may have “cheap and cheerful” updates which can feature cheaper materials, or compromised workmanship.
Get an Inspection: When you offer on a property, one of the subjects that your Realtor® should recommend in order to protect your interests is an inspection.Unfortunately, inspections tend to fall by the wayside in multiple offer situations, but they are a great way to get some additional information on a recently-renovated property. Inspections can reveal shoddy workmanship, lack of insulation behind walls, water ingress or inferior waterproofing, and other issues.
Ask for a detailed accounting of updates done by the current or past owners. Sometimes, updates were done two or 3 Owners ago. Try to have a record, so that you have information for when you decide to sell in the future.
Ask to see permits, if possible. A substantial renovation would require permits to be pulled at City Hall.
Ask who the owner is. Sometimes, the answer can be telling. Often, but not always, professional renovators will show up as a company name. If this is the case, research the company or owner, and find out if there are any lawsuits or judgments. Inquire about other projects they have done.
Ask for the names of trades. Even if permits were not pulled, if you are purchasing a renovated property, ask for the names of any professional trades that worked on the updates.Was a plumber, carpenter, or electrician used?
Look at the PDS (Property Disclosure Statement). Has it been crossed out because the “owner never lived there”? Be wary when a Seller makes no representations about a property, especially if they just renovated it. If they just opened everything up to make improvements, they SHOULD be able to tell you about it!