Checklist for Buying a Detached House

The law obliges the buyer to inspect the property carefully. After the sale one may not invoke a defect that should have been detected during the inspection. The buyer should take enough time to inspect the property and visit the site more than once. The parts of a house must be inspected thoroughly.

One should ask the seller or realtor any questions that arise. It is good to know the history of the house under previous owners. Essential parts of the history include repairs and water damages for example. From the future owner’s perspective, it is very important to know how to use the systems of the building, such as the ventilation system. The seller may be asked to provide information about the neighbors and the neighborhood. The buyers are often interested to know the surface area of the building. If the area is disclosed it is beneficial to the buyer to ask how it was measured. If the area matters a lot to the buyer, they can have an expert measure it.

The buyer should not have assumptions that are ungrounded. The older the house the more likely it needs repairs. Should a buyer deem it important to buy a house that has e.g. been wholly renovated all the information on the repairs must be requested from the seller in writing. A mere facelift does not provide grounds for the buyer to assume that structures have been upgraded as well.

When inspecting a home, it is advisable to turn to an expert, a home inspector for example. The older the property is the more reasons there are to carry out a home inspection. One should ensure that the home inspector has the degree in performing condition inspections for properties in real estate transactions (AKK Inspectors), or at very least that they adhere to the instructions set in the KH Form (KH-kortti). This ensures that the inspection is carried out in accordance with the set guidelines.

The house might have a structural defect that cannot be detected without tearing down the outer layers and reaching the structure itself. Should the inspector detect a risk for this kind of a defect it is advisable to discuss whether further investigations can be carried out. Often the sellers are unwilling to ‘damage’ the building for sale, though finding any structural damage before the sale also is in the seller’s interests. The buyer might offer to pay for the inspections partly or entirely. If the structure is not opened and investigated the buyer is burdened with the risks associated with it. Even though the main focus of a home inspection is on the building itself, the limits of the property as well as its yard or garden areas should be inspected.

The buyer usually receives a large number of documents on the property from the realtor. These documents must be read with particular care. The buyer may not invoke a defect if it was evident in the documentation. The buyer themselves may ask for additional documents at the municipal building inspection authority. At the very least it should be ensured that the buildings and structures on the property have required permits. Larger renovations and repairs might have required separate building permits. The owner of the property is liable for ensuring the property has the appropriate permits. If there are no permits the buyer might need to apply for the required permits and, in the worst case, the building or structure might need to be demolished. Therefore, the documents at the municipal building inspection authority should be read in advance.

In addition, the buyer needs to go through the information in the Land Register, including the certificate of title and the certificate of mortgages and encumbrances. The buyer should also be aware of the zoning regulations in the particular area.

By acting with care, the buyer can prevent disputes, albeit the seller must cooperate as well, of course. If, after all the precautionary measures taken, there is a defect in the property, the buyer is obliged to notify the seller of the defect as soon as possible. If the claim is not done within a reasonable time, the buyer might lose their right to invoke the defect.


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