Monthly Sydney Property Insights

Why you should avoid virtual inspections

As our COVID-19 memories fade, it’s fair to expect a shift back to regular property selling methods.

However, changes that evolved during tight health restrictions continue to be promoted.

Virtual inspections are one of them.

But do they benefit the buyer?

The decision to buy residential or commercial property, whether as an owner occupier or investor, is not only about the glossy visuals and selected sound bites.

It’s also about that gut feeling a buyer gets when they walk in the front door.

That feeling is a sense of light, space and volume, local noises, smells, airflow, the design and flow of the rooms, the feng shui and how you, as a buyer relate to the property.

Of the five basic senses, all but taste are relevant to buying property.

Of the remaining four, virtual inspections can partially satisfy sight and hearing.

Such inspections can’t enliven the other senses like the touch of a drummy wall or of a cold room or the smells of damp, fresh paint or disguising fragrant candles.

When less than half the senses have been activated, how can you be sure you have made the right buying decision?

Neighbours and locals are just as important

And no virtual inspection will tell you what the neighbours and other local sources know.

Their knowledge and experience are not available online. A conversation with a neighbour can lead property buyers to investigate other aspects of the property or area.

Neighbours and locals can reveal inaccuracies about online information from third party providers and local councils.

Online results can be out of date.

Many of these matters are “Material Facts” which vendors are now obliged legally to disclose as we will discuss later this year.

Since Curtis Associates opened the doors in 2007, our accomplished and trained researchers have unearthed invaluable information from such sources resulting in nuggets of gold that have led to vital purchasing decisions for our clients.

For some clients this due diligence has been the reason not to buy and for others it’s been THE key reason to proceed with the purchase.

For others, these insights have provided a bargaining chip during negotiations or to fix auction bidding limits.

In all cases, our clients have had the peace of mind at having had an unknown become a known.

It’s not easy

It takes skill and tact to gather information from strangers, whether from the neighbours, renters who often owe no loyalty to the street, property or precinct, Australia Post workers, council workers or Police.

Knocking on doors or approaching complete strangers to reveal such information is not easy especially during a lockdown.

Harder still, is having the sensitivity to know when and how to use this information in negotiations.

Delicate topics such as vendors who are experiencing financial stress or relationship breakdowns, can only be raised with a sympathetic temperament.

Here are some real examples of how our clients this year and in recent years, have made purchasing decisions based on our due diligence:

Vendor relationship breakdownNeighboursNumerous including Ashfield, Grays Point, Roseville, Davidson, Surry Hills, Mosman and KensingtonUsed in negotiations
Vendor financially stressedNeighboursKensingtonUsed in negotiations
Vendor bought elsewhereNeighboursPaddington, East Balmain, Dulwich Hill, Woollahra, Bellevue HillUsed in negotiations and reduced bidding limits
Insoluble issue with onsite wastewater systemNeighbour, then local council officersKatoombaClient withdrew interest and property withdrawn from sale
Halved turnover after Channel 9 departedCommercial tenantWilloughbyClient withdrew interest
Property was inundated with water during November 2021 stormFormer tenantSurry HillsUsed in negotiations
Adjoining property recently sold off market for re-developmentLocal business ownerPaddingtonClient withdrew interest
Strata records not disclosing disharmony and other local issues including short term accommodationNeighboursMilsons Point, FreshwaterClient took into account when fixing bidding limit
No cracking from completed Westconnex tunnellingNeighboursNewtownClient decided to buy
Heavy, noisy local school trafficNeighboursCollaroyClient withdrew interest
In street serious sex offender under home arrest subject to 24/7 GPS tracking not posing a problemNeighboursRosevilleClients decided to buy
Loud local bus noiseTenantQueenscliffClients decided to buy also taking into account our other research regarding future electric buses
Apprehended Violence Orders and hostile adjoining neighbourLocal residentMarrickvilleClient decided to buy
Prior assault on propertyLocal renterGlebeUsed in negotiations
Potential EMF induced local cancer clusterNeighbourWombarraClient decided not to buy
Nearby Public Housing posing no issuesNeighbours, shop keepers, PoliceGlebeClients decided to buy
Smell of instant noodles being manufactured in strata industrial complex causing common property entry and hallways to be unusableAdjoining commercial tenants and staffArtarmonUsed in negotiations


For discretion, clear judgment and accomplished researchers get in touch with our team.



Subscribe to our Curtis Associates Monthly Newsletter or connect with us via social media.