Poor repairs to haunt buyers

The reselling of Christchurch homes with shoddy earthquake repairs has been likened to the leaky homes scandal.

Lawyers are warning it could affect the city's housing market for years.

Last week The Press warned homes bought in as-is condition were starting to be on-sold with poor repairs but big mark-ups.

There is no public register of earthquake damage, insurance claims, or non-consented repairs to homes, nor are such details recorded on council land information (LIM) reports.

Valuers have also expressed concern at repairs being done on the cheap by the original owners or tradespeople buying them to onsell, with foundations a particular risk for buyers.

Christchurch architect John Chaplin said the practice of using cosmetic repairs to conceal major structural damage was "alarming". Inadequately fixed homes would later "reveal a dark history of patch-ups" similar to when leaky homes were made over for resale in the early 2000s.

Owners who had done inadequate repairs could face legal action, as could any real estate agents misrepresenting properties, Chaplin said.

"There's a lot of things that will come back to haunt people. In a few years people will be looking for someone to blame, like the leaky homes. The repercussions could prove to be lengthy and costly".

Chaplin said that while the law allowed owners to "patch and walk away", new consumer laws would boost penalties and the legal comebacks available.

Harcourts real estate agent Peter Griffioen has sold over 60 as-is homes and his website advises sellers to represent their home transparently with an engineer's report of the original damage.

"We have found, however, that the buying public generally respond more favourably to a home following cosmetic repairs due to the aesthetic appeal," Griffioen's site says.

Christchurch lawyers also warn of the emerging problem.

Duncan Webb, a partner at Lane Neave, warned that "half-assed" repair work was "a real issue" for the market.

Owners faced being left uninsured even if they could get cover, because insurers could refuse claims if they found undisclosed problems. He urged buyers to ask questions and get answers in writing, and include clauses about repairs in sales contracts.

Property lawyer Mark Orman, from Anthony Harper, said the damaged home problem would have "a long tail" affecting the housing market for many years.

"These properties will get bought and sold multiple times, and as time goes on, the level of care of purchasers will diminish."

"People will be presume repairs are done and everything is OK, but you can't assume it's all in order".

Orman said buyers needed to get thorough checks and compare work sign-offs with scopes of work.

Source - Stuff.co.nz