A timely piece in today’s NZ Herald brings to light the advocacy of greater transparency of potential issues surrounding leaky homes. Steve Koerber – an agent with Barfoot & Thompson shares his view that greater information should be provided to protect wouldbe purchasers, especially new immigrants.
In principle more transparency is to be championed, however identification of leaky homes and equally identification of non-leaky homes is not an exact science by any means.
Whilst the technology of detection has improved enormously over the past few years; without wholesale removal of cladding materials the extent of damage cannot be accessed. In fact the use of the term leaky homes is a degree of a misnomer – the fact is the leaking or egress of water is not in of itself the problem (houses have had leaks for years), it is the inadequate ventilation and appropriateness of construction materials and systems to protect buildings which ultimately lead to the structural damage to properties which is the problem.
As to the role of agents highlighting the impact of “leaky homes” – it is only recently that a few properties have been marketed as being leaky homes and are deliberately targeted to developers looking to take on such a project. Clearly every buyer wants to know for certain that the house they are proposing to buy is not a leaky home, however real estate agents act as selling agents for the seller and whilst they will always seek the most complete information on a property they can, they are not building inspectors, nor surveyors and therefore cannot be expected to provide any form of cast iron guarantee on a property beyond what the owner of the property shares with them.
Just as car buyers will judge the value of a pre-purchase inspection so should it be with a property.
A quick search on the website today reveals that there are only 13 listings that use the keyword of “leaky home” from amongst the 51,176 homes and lifestyle properties that are being marketed as for sale.
Of these 13, seven are properties with leaky home issues identified: a 4 bedroom house in Coastville, two townhouses in Henderson Valley, another townhouse in Mt Eden, a 3 bedroom townhouse in Mangere, a 4 bedroom property in Birkenhead described as “Stylish leaky home” and a 3 bedroom apartment in Auckland city.
On the other hand there are 6 properties which all claim to be in one form or another not likely to be prone to “leaky home” syndrome.
Whilst the industry and the government may wish to see more transparency to provide protection to consumers on an issues such as this, it is very difficult and potentially very risky to make hard and fast statements one way or another. The best solution as advocated by Steve Koerber may be the implementation of a regulated inspection report for properties built since 1991.