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Current as of 25/12/14 07:40PM NZST

Leaky looks deter buyers

By Michelle Coursey

Potential buyers are avoiding weathertight houses with monolithic cladding because of the leaky homes scandal.

Mediterranean-style properties with flat roofs and homes without eaves and are also a turn-off, with some buyers saying no after just seeing a picture.

Real estate agents say they are battling to get buyers up driveways, let alone in front doors, and fear prices are dropping as a result.

One seller says his Mediterranean-style Onehunga property has been on the market for almost five months, but has not sold because of its monolithic cladding. "It's a shame, because the same house would sell really easily. It's just that drama surrounding leaky homes."

Since the crisis hit the headlines, buyers have been warned to avoid houses with certain features.

Independent home website ConsumerBuild says common characteristics of properties most at risk from leaky home syndrome include flat or low-pitched roofs, textured or monolithic claddings, and plaster finish to the ground or deck.

Any houses that are "Mediterranean style", or built between the mid-1990s and 2003, are also at risk, according to the guidelines.

But while up to 30,000 homes have been identified as potentially leaky, many that look similar are fine.

Dean Cowley, a certified thermographer from NZ Leak and Heat Loss Detection, finds his services are in demand as vendors of weathertight homes are keen to secure a clean bill of health to show buyers.

Cowley says houses with monolithic cladding tend to have higher moisture readings, but not all are affected. "You see monolithic cladding, and the first thing you think is it's going to be a leaky home," says Cowley. "I have heard from real estate agents that some clients will turn up to a house [with this cladding], drive in the driveway, and say 'no thanks'.

"It's high-risk - clients and agents say that's their first thought, and that creates a huge barrier."

Adam Smith, an agent with Iron Bridge Real Estate on Auckland's North Shore, says some people look no further than a photo before deciding the home could have problems.

Franklin real estate agent Donna-Marie Morris, of The Professionals, says one client "freaked out" at the sight of a home with monolithic cladding.

"I always say to my vendors that they may get this stigma about the house because of it being monolithic cladding," Morris says. "A minimum standard for purchasers should always be a Lim report and a builder's inspection."

Other agents have confirmed prospective buyers often want to inspect a home with monolithic cladding two or three times. They say that some private sellers have cut prices because of difficulties in attracting buyers.

A search of Trade Me property ads reveals some vendors selling homes with monolithic cladding include details of weather tightness and one even declares "no leaky home here".

- Herald on Sunday

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