There are many things to consider when buying a property and it can be very difficult to work out where to start. Here are our property lawyers’ tips to buying a house.
An experienced property lawyer will be able to look over the documentation and provide legal advice on the Real Estate Contract and Section 32 Vendors Statement. For property purchasers to avoid common problems, we have compiled a list of our tips for buying a house.
You should also make your own enquiries and always ask questions if you are not sure. After all you are entering a legally binding contract with a large financial commitment.
Whilst this list in not exhaustive, here are a few common issues we see that purchasers experience when buying a property:
It may seem funny, running around with a tape measure, but many properties boundaries are not correct. After all you are buying the land and improvements, not just the house. If you are buying a unit check that it really does have carparks that they say they do. You can measure the properties boundaries yourself or hire a land surveyor to perform this for you and provide you with a survey plan of the property.
Take plenty of photos when you are inspecting the property prior to purchase. They can come in handy later if there is a dispute about the condition of the property. Also carefully check behind anything that may be covering up a defect like paintings or wall cabinets.
Make sure that you get a building inspector for existing homes. They understand building defects and have a keen eye for building issues you won’t see. Don’t let the Real Estate Agent give you one of their special terms and conditions. Remember they act for the vendor. Make sure that you have one drafted by a lawyer so that it covers you properly. Many real estate agent clauses only cover some building defects and this can be hard to argue if you need to get out of the Contract.
Make sure they work and you know what is included and not included. This is where the most disputes arise with conveyancing and if you don’t have it in writing it can be hard and costly to establish who is right down the track.
Such things as agreeing to an earlier settlement date, or other inclusions or terms should all be in writing. Countless purchasers have signed a contract with a verbal agreement to settle earlier if they are ready only for the Vendor to go back on their word and refuse to agree. If it is in writing it is simple. If not, you have no recourse, and in our experience the vendor mostly changes their mind!
If you are buying a unit you should check the details and fees that the owners corporation charges. There can be expenses hidden in plain sight.
If the property is subject to land tax under the current owner (usually a company) you will have to pay the balance of the land tax for that year! This is even if you intend to live in the property as your principal place of residence. If you are buying off a company early in the rating year make sure you allow for the additional cost.
If you notice a pergola, garden shed or outbuilding make sure you check that it is approved by the council. Check the policy and the nature of the works. There are many instances where the final inspection has not been submitted to council or its missed. If there are recent building works make sure you check it out.
Allow enough time to get finance approved and check with your broker as to what a good time frame is. Different times of the year are busier than others and the time needed to get approval can differ greatly. It is also a good idea to negotiate through the selling agent to make the contract subject to formal loan approval.
Just be aware that most finance pre-approvals are only valid for a certain period of time before you have to resubmit supporting documents. This can add time to your finance application as well difficulties if your financial situation changes in that time frame.
Settlement time frames are usually dependent upon your lender and how busy they are. 45 day settlements or longer are very comfortable timeframes. Shorter settlements possible, but are typically harder to meet deadlines when getting finance from a lender.
There are many different issues that come up during conveyancing and these are just some of the common issues that purchasers have when buying a home.
Our conveyancing lawyers have extensive experience in helping purchasers get through the often daunting process of buying a house. We are here to help so feel free to reach out and get some advice.
Please note: the above article is not legal advice. Every circumstance is different. It is critical that you obtain legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances before taking any action.
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