By BROOKE KEEBLE-HAWKINS

Are you looking to buy a residential, commercial or rural property?

Purchasing property can be both an exciting and stressful time. Our firm offers a high quality conveyancing service to assist clients in settling their property purchase as smoothly as possible.

If you have found a property of interest, there are many inquiries you should make before you consider purchasing it.

Too often purchasers rely only on the information given to them by the Vendor in the Vendor Statement (also known as a Section 32).

The matters a Vendor must disclose in a Vendor Statement does not cover all issues that may arise with a property and at times Vendors fail to make proper disclosure.

Purchasers are not always aware of what further inquiries they should make or that the doctrine of caveat emptor, which literally means “let the buyer beware” applies to the purchase of property.

In most cases once the contract is signed it is too late and often there is no recourse against the Vendor, or if there a possible claim is this will involve costly legal proceedings.

Example

You have just signed a contract to purchase your first family home. It has a large undercover alfresco area with deck and in-built barbeque out the back. It will be perfect for entertaining your friends all year round.

A week before settlement, the Vendor receives a notice from the Council saying the deck does not comply with the Regulations and needs to be rectified. Investigations reveal it will cost $30,000 to make the deck compliant.

It turns out the deck was not built by the Vendor, but by the previous owner before him some 12 years earlier. The Vendor is not required to disclose owner builder work done by previous owners, nor building permits issued under the Building Act 1993 going back more than 7 years.

In this situation, you have no right to delay settlement and, depending on the terms of the contract, are likely liable for notices served after the contract is signed.

This may have been avoided by requesting the council to inspect the property before the contract was signed to ensure there were no illegal buildings.

Example

You have just signed a contract to purchase a factory as an investment property.

Two months after settlement, the water authority needs to access the stormwater drain at the back of the property, but discovers it cannot because a concrete shed has been built over it. They require the shed be removed.

The Vendor Statement did disclose a description of the stormwater easement, but failed to disclose there was a failure to comply with the easement, i.e. something was built over the drain meaning the water authority could not access it.

By this time, the Vendor cannot be located.

This situation may have been avoided if before signing the contract, you had physically viewed the property with the plans to make sure nothing was built over the easement.

These are just a few examples of the many, many scenarios purchases can face. Therefore, whether you are a first time purchaser or you have purchased many properties in the past, obtaining pre-contractual advice may save you a major headache down the road.

We can further advise you of your obligations under the contract in relation to finance and the consequences of default and also suggest terms you may wish to consider including in the contract.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at Eales & Mackenzie at any stage of your property purchase.

 

 

Brooke Keeble-Hawkins

03 8621 1000

brooke@emlawyers.com.au