Before You Sign a Contract to Buy a Property

Before you sign a contract

Before you sign a Contract to buy a property, there are some important things, which are often overlooked. Once the contract has been signed, these overlooked issues may not be able to be rectified.

Things to consider carefully before you sign a contract to buy a property include:

  • Conditions of the contract;
  • Council Approvals;
  • Pools; and
  • Easements.

Conditions:

Before signing a contract, is there anything about this particular property which worries you?

The standard terms of the contract are designed to manage the procedural aspects of all transactions. If you have concerns about the property or your personal circumstances which could affect whether you will want or be able to complete the purchase, you must make sure the contract adequately addresses those issues.

These could include obvious issues such as your ability to obtain Finance, or the need to conduct a Building and Pest inspection. There may be a need for general Due Diligence investigations because you have a nagging concern about some aspect of the property or its history. Perhaps there is a need for Foreign Investment Review Board approval because you or your partner are foreign persons. You may want to know if you can remove an existing building and build a new one, or there is a rumoured road or railway expansion which might affect the property in the future.

Finance and building inspections can be dealt with by ticking the right boxes on the standard form part of the contract. Most others however will need to be dealt with in tailor made special conditions, specifically drafted and included as additions to the standard contract.

We can assist you with drafting these clauses to ensure that you can terminate the contract without penalty if your concerns are not satisfied.

Council Approvals:

It is not mandatory for a Seller to have Council Approvals in place for additions or renovations when they sell a property. This could mean that any renovations or additions may not be built in accordance with Council requirements.

If you find out after the Contract has been signed, that Approvals are not in place, you may not be able to terminate the contract. If the matter settles and Council later requires you, as the new owner, to obtain approval or demolish the improvements, you will be out of pocket and faced with a lot of work and possibly, not owning the property you thought you were buying.

Should you think Approvals may not be in place, we can assist in drafting a Special Condition to allow you to investigate and if necessary, terminate the contract if a problem is discovered.

Pools:

When buying a house with a pool, it is important to ensure the pool has a Safety Certificate. If it does not, you should insist on a special condition requiring the Seller to provide one prior to Settlement.

Please also see our article regarding Pool Safety.

Easements:

It is important to check whether there are any easements registered on the title to the property, as these may impact how you can use part or all of the property. If an easement does exist, you should find out exactly what the terms of the easement are. For example, if there is an easement passing through the yard, this could mean that you are unable to construct anything in that area, including a pool, extensions or a shed.

It is important to check this prior to signing the contract. Should the existence of an easement be found after you sign the contract, you may not have the automatic right to terminate. Easements should be disclosed in the contract by the Seller but even if they are, you need to ensure that you know what their terms are and how they will affect you.

If you don’t get a copy of the easement before signing the contract, you should insist on a special condition which will let you terminate the contract if you are unhappy with the terms of the easement.

Other Matters:

Other items to check include ensuring:

  • Your full names have been inserted and spelt correctly (including middle names).
  • The purchase price and deposit are correct.
  • Any chattels to be included or excluded from the sale have been noted.

Please contact us for further information specific to your property purchase.

Taylah Bruce Solicitor

Taylah Bruce DBL Solicitors

 

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