You are buying a home. What information can we give you to assist?

We have set out some hints below, and some matters to watch at the very start, before we may see the contract but, to be honest, it just isn’t possible to distil the experience of having helped thousands of clients buy a home (or investment) into a few pithy questions and answers.

Like all solicitors we will carry out title searches, property searches etc, but what we do for our clients is more about:

  • helping them in advance where possible by reviewing the contract before it is signed¬. We charge a set fee for conveyancing matters and, unless we spend a huge amount of time on advising, we do not charge any extra fee for our principal reviewing a contract prior to signing, including commenting on or drafting special conditions to suit. Without meaning any disrespect to real estate agents, their forte is selling, ours is the documentation. The contract is the foundation document and the opportunity to make sure that the contract reflects the agreement and protects our client assists greatly in reducing the stress on the way to settlement.
  • helping our client over the hurdles, large or small that invariably come up during the conveyancing process. These hurdles can be thrown up by sellers who turn out to be less than co-operative or downright dishonest, banks who are slow and/or unco-operative, finance brokers who were selling used cars yesterday etc, etc, etc.
  • make the most of contract conditions for your benefit, such as how to actually understand what the results of the building and pest inspections are.
  • and perhaps the most important, having an open line of communication between you and us, where you feel that you can ask us any question at any time during the transaction.

Our tips:

  • Make sure that the selling agent is using the latest version of the contract drafted by the REIQ and approved by the Queensland Law Society.
  • Keep your eyes open. If it looks like the neighbour’s garage roof is overhanging the boundary, or the fence is shaped like dog’s hind leg, ask the question and don’t be put off. Ask to see the survey plan. If there is any hint of a problem don’t rely on an assurance from the agent that “its covered in the contract”. It is but the contract balances the rights of the Seller and the Buyer. You would be better off with a special condition that gives you all the rights.
  • Is there a swimming pool? Note that you can be obligated to carry out substantial pool safety repairs at your own cost after settlement if you do not take advantage of the contract provisions regarding pool fencing and safety.
  • Make sure that you have considered whether there is anything that is technically a “chattel”, that is something not fixed to the property, that you expect to be left by the Seller. These items should be listed in the “Included Chattel” section. Remote control devices for garages etc are included automatically (although it is wise to ask the agent to check and note how many remotes there are, say at least 1 each for the garage doors), but freestanding garden sheds and block bar-b-ques that aren’t mortared together could be taken by the Seller. Swimming pool equipment such as a vacuum cleaner, leaf scoop etc can be expensive. Dishwashers that are plumbed in are technically fixtures but Sellers sometimes don’t think so, so its best to have the dishwasher stated.The real estate agent has probably been told it doesn’t need to be mentioned. He’s right, but we want the Seller to be aware that it stays.
  • Don’t worry too much about the fact that there is a cooling-off period. That was designed to allow foolish people who went to investment seminars interstate and were flown in to buy over-priced property to wriggle out later. There is a financial penalty for using the cooling-off period. Make sure before you sign the contract that you are happy to buy the property for that price on those conditions. If you think that you may want to use the cooling-off provision offer a very minimal deposit (say $100.00) on signing, with the remainder of the deposit payable say 7 days later.
  • The contract will place the property at your insurance risk from the next business day after the contract date. There is a reason for this. Arrange insurance within that time.
  • Do not delay instructing your solicitor until you have finance approval and a favourable building/pest inspection. These are critical points in the contract/settlement process and we will generally only ask for reimbursement of any title search costs (less than $50.00) if the contract is terminated.
  • Are selling your existing home in conjunction with your purchase? If so, and again meaning no disrespect to real estate agents, it is critical that the contract to buy contains a special condition that works. As well, the Seller may want to insert what the real estate industry generally calls a “48 hour clause”, or similar. Even with our best efforts, these are nasty clauses for Buyers but they can leave you in a very bad place if not worded correctly.