Buying an apartment or a house can be an incredibly exciting time, but as every homeowner knows, the process almost always comes with some disappointments and downsides.
As someone who has gone through the process of real estate buying in Tbilisi, Georgia a number of times, I’m intimately familiar with the hurdles that most buyers have to overcome.
But while many people think that it’s the purchasing process that’s mentally demanding, and are expecting a major relief the moment the money is wired and keys handed over, it’s to their disappointment that very often, this is where the problems begin.
The List of Common Issues is Long and Expensive
The reasonable among us won’t expect the property that they purchase to be perfect – especially if pre-owned. A wall marking here and there, a few door hinges needing to be tightened, an air conditioner that’s due to be given a service – that’s something that comes up often, isn’t very costly, and is generally easy to solve.
But the big issue surfaces with shortcomings in three distinct areas:
- Things that aren’t clearly visible when viewing the property
- Things that are costly to fix
- Things that pose a downright danger to life (or property)
And boy is that list long!
While a lot depends on the type and age of the place that you’re buying, as well as its level of finishing, issues of this nature come up all the time, with all types of real estate in Georgia and elsewhere.
When buying an older apartment or a house, you need to be careful to make sure of the structural integrity of the building. There are a number of cases every year (see here, here, or here) where residential buildings in Tbilisi and elsewhere simply collapse, often taking with them everyone currently in them.
But buildings that are risking a collapse, while scary and grim, are luckily quite rare. Much more commonly, we’re witnessing situations where electricity or gas connections are drawn in a way that make them unsafe, as well as issues with hidden asbestos or mold, and poor walls/flooring.
The list of things to check with an old building is quite extensive (our checklist consists of over 100 total individual checks), so listing all of it here would be impractical, but this is to illustrate that performing a thorough inspection is an absolute necessity when purchasing a property of this nature.
With newly finished real estate, things are quite a bit better, but you still can’t rest on your laurels, expecting everything to be just fine, since very often, there are hidden defects even with new houses.
While newly built houses are rarely in danger of collapsing, a property inspection conducted by a professional can often still uncover issues that may not be visible to the naked eye. Things like deficiencies in build quality (poor installation of utilities; uneven surfaces; poor insulation) are all worth knowing about, to be able to make an educated decision on the purchase, or even to negotiate on the price.
When it comes to unfinished properties, or “white frame” and “black frame” finishing, as it’s often called in Georgia, the list of things to look for are once again less, but even then you will want to make sure of the overall quality of the building or the apartment before making your final decision.
Does the building conform to fire safety requirements? Are the common areas properly accessible? What’s the quality of windows and balcony doors? Are the external walls properly insulated or not? Do the bathrooms have proper drainage? These are among the many areas that should be considered before putting in an offer on a white or black frame property.
What’s a Real Estate Inspection?
Something that’s quite popular in many countries abroad, but a relatively new concept in Georgia, is a thorough Real Estate Inspection that is performed on behalf of the buyer, prior to them making the final purchase decision.
These inspections are normally carried out by trained professionals who are experienced to spot issues and have a special set of devices to use.
The inspection itself is a combination of a visual examination and a tool-based inspection, resulting in an objective written report that details the actual condition and risks of the property.
This way, you as the buyer can make an informed decision of what exactly are you buying, and have the peace of mind you deserve, not risking uncovering a plethora of issues and problems after the purchase is completed and there’s no longer any recourse.
Real Estate Inspection is NOT a Valuation
Many people think that a property inspection and a valuation are the same thing. They aren’t.
While a valuation is done to determine the market value of the property (usually for the purpose of obtaining a mortgage), valuation reports never go into much depth on actual issues that the property faces. The process simply doesn’t allow for it – being based purely on a very basic, visual overview.
Property inspection, on the other hand, doesn’t aim to determine the value of the property, but instead provide you with a full list of things that you may want to consider, either before or after the purchase.
Where the property inspection report does often end up helpful, however, is allowing you to negotiate on the price. Consider a scenario where the property you’re looking at has a long list of hidden deficiencies, but they’re all things that you’re happy to fix on your own. That way, you can put in an offer regardless, but use the uncovered deficiencies as leverage in price negotiations.
CheckIt.ge – Your Partner in Real Estate Inspections
Founded out of necessity by people who themselves were buying apartments in Tbilisi and found themselves struggling to ensure quality, CheckIt.ge is a white-glove property inspection service that helps you achieve the ultimate peace of mind when buying a property in Georgia.
With qualified and trained inspectors who follow international standards from leading European countries and USA, we’re bringing high-quality but affordable property and vehicle inspections to Georgia, to increase the level of buyer awareness and draw more attention to the possibilities of really knowing what you buy.
Unlike estate agents, we’re always on the buyer’s side and fully independent and transparent.