Can I Use Someone Else’s Building and Pest Report?
Relying on someone else's report can come back to bite you later.
Don't get caught out. Know the facts and legalities around using someone else's report - it could potentially save you thousands down the track.
The current property market
With the property market running hot, it’s no surprise that sellers are wanting to capitalise on the sale of their property. To speed up the buying process, some sellers are getting a pre-sale building and pest inspection report to show potential buyers.
By the same token, many real estate agents are pushing buyers to put in an offer without it being subject to a building and pest inspection. Whilst other buyers are ignoring unfavourable building and pest reports to get into the market while they can.
All of this results in a pressure cooker environment for buyers. Decisions need to be made quickly and they don’t want to miss out on a property by moving too slowly. Leading many buyers to ask if they can use someone else’s building and pest report thinking this will save them time and money.
In the heat of the moment, it may seem convenient to rely on the seller’s report and put in an offer that isn’t subject to building and pest. Whilst this may seem like a good idea at the time, it can come back to bite you later.
Understand the seller's perspective
In addition to trying to speed up the process, some sellers get a pre-sale building and pest inspection to understand the existing condition of the property.
This is particularly helpful if the seller has lived in the property for a long time. As the report will help them become aware of any defects that may have gone unnoticed.
It also gives them an opportunity to rectify any of these issues and helps them set a selling price. Likewise, getting a pre-sale report allows the seller to compare their report to any that may be completed for the buyer.
Why it's important to get your own building and pest inspection completed
Technically, you can use someone else’s building and pest report or not get one altogether. However, this is not a good idea.
It is always prudent to get a building and pest inspection completed separately from the seller and in your own name for two reasons. Firstly, it provides an avenue for legal recourse in the future. Secondly, it gives you an impartial inspection.
1. Legal Recourse
A building and pest inspection report is a legal document. As such, the owner of the report is the one whose name is on it.
This means that should a buyer later find defects within a property (that should have reasonably been seen by the inspector) they can pursue legal recourse. However, this option becomes non-existent for buyers who have chosen to use someone else’s report or have put in an offer that is not subject to building and pest.
2. Impartial Inspection
In Queensland, real estate agents are under no legal obligation to disclose information regarding the condition of a property to potential buyers. As such, getting your own building and pest inspection gives you peace of mind that the findings in the report are impartial to any party involved in the sale.
It’s likely you’ve heard stories of people purchasing properties where everything seemed fine only to find that the seller simply “tidied up” major defects with a coat of paint. In 2020, one unfortunate Gold Coast couple purchased a property that was completed infested with termites. Thankfully, they have been able to pursue legal recourse because they had a building and pest inspection in their own name.
Times where it is appropriate to use an old report
The only time it is advisable to use an existing report is if the report is no more than 4 weeks old and is available to be transferred into your name.
Most building and pest inspection companies will be willing to resell a report to the new buyer for a small fee, provided that the report was completed within the past 4 weeks. After that time, the inspector cannot guarantee that the house will still be in the same condition. As storm damage may occur or termites may move into the property within weeks after an inspection.
Who wins, you decide
It is always prudent to have a building and pest inspection completed in your own name. By doing so, you can pursue legal recourse should you ever need to in the future. You are also assured of an impartial inspection that gives you peace of mind.
At the end of the day, it is the buyer’s decision whether to go ahead with the purchase of a property. The building and pest clause in your contract is there to protect the buyer and is an important step in the buying process that should never be overlooked.