Little fill-ins here and there won't crack your sale price

Saturday 21 Aug 2010

It's a common dilemma. How can a vendor protect their own interests while being honest with potential buyers? The founder of the Archicentre building advisory service, Robert Caulfield, proposes a fair solution.

"If you're selling a home, get a professional inspection and include the report in the sale documentation, informing the buyer of the problem and indicating that it's just a maintenance issue," he says. "In most cases, it's just a visual problem and an annoyance. Generally, cracks less than 10 millimetres don't need structural repair work. If there's cracking in internal walls, it's wise to patch and paint to make the house presentable.

"Archicentre statistics show that the Glen Waverley area is susceptible to cracking. That's due to the drought and the age of the houses, many of which were built in the 1960s and '70s with lightweight footings. As the reactive clay dries out, it shrinks, the footings drop and a crack appears."

Mr Caulfield acknowledges the problem may deter some buyers.

"If you're selling, be upfront about it. Get independent, professional advice and buyers won't be suspicious. Non-structural cracks won't make a huge difference to the sale price. Cracks can generally be managed by a sensible watering regime in the garden. Keep the soil moist in summer around the house [if water restrictions allow]."

- Mary Costello