Purchasing a property is one of the biggest investments and it is important to carry out due diligence prior to purchasing a property.
Often, solicitors and conveyancers are asked to review the contract of sale and section 32 to identify any terms that are unfair to a purchaser and any disclosures that may raise red flags about the property.
However, it is unlikely that your solicitor or conveyancer has physically attended the property and the disclosures contained in the section 32 is limited to the statutory requirements and not exhaustive (for example, a section 32 may not disclose illegal building works, building defects, cladding issues, water leaks etc).
With the above in mind we recommend that you consider carrying out the following due diligence prior to purchasing a property.
If your house is built before the early 2000’s, there may still be asbestos present somewhere in the house. Exposure to asbestos can be a serious health concern and can also cause unexpected and additional financial expense for new homeowners.
A way to address this would be making your offer to purchase a property conditional on obtaining a satisfactory building report, that also has regard to any asbestos in the property.
Often building inspections do not extend to inspecting the plumbing at the property, such as drainage and sewerage pipes which are ordinarily not visible during an inspection.
You may consider obtaining pre-purchase plumbing report prior to your purchase or making your purchase conditional on obtaining such report, so that any issues or defects with plumbing are identified prior to your purchase.
Whilst neighbours form part of your community, having a difficult neighbour can turn into your worst nightmare.
We recommend asking the agent and/or the vendor if they have had any difficulties or disputes with their neighbours. You may also consider talking to locals prior to making an offer.
Are you getting the benefit of all the land that you are purchasing?
You may wish to engage a land surveyor to carry out a plan of survey prior to making an offer or making your offer conditional on obtaining a plan of survey.
A plan of survey will reveal if there is any encroachment of boundaries by the neighbouring properties and any potential adverse possession claims.
Obtaining a building report from a registered building practitioner may reveal if there are any major structural defects in the property and the cost of rectification.
Obtaining a pest infestation report may reveal if there are any major pest infestations such as termites, that may cause damage to the property and incur unexpected costs for treatment and rectification works.
Whilst it is a requirement for a vendor and/or agent to disclose material facts relating to the property to a potential purchaser, there is no prescribed list of what is considered a material fact and there is no requirement to disclose material facts in the contract of sale and/or section 32.
You should always ask the agent or vendor if there are any material facts of the property that would affect your decision to purchase the property (for example, where the property may have been involved in a crime).
How we can help you
Purchasers – Buying Property
- Prior to you signing the contract, we can review and provide advice on the contract of sale and section 32 to help identity terms and conditions which are unfair to you as the purchaser and any recommended amendments, and raise any red flags and concerns identified in the section 32 or any failures to disclose.
- We can assist in amending the contract or drafting special conditions for inclusion in the contract so that you are better protected and, for example, to enable you to end the contract without penalty.
Vendors – Selling Property
- It is important to discuss any concerns you may have in relation to the property with your solicitor in preparing the contract and section 32 so that you can be advised on your disclosure obligations.
Click here to read about what should be included in a Section 32 document.
Our team of property lawyers, including an accredited specialist have assisted many clients with their property needs. Whether buying or selling a property our property lawyers can help you by providing advice in regard to due diligence.
If you have any questions or would like to find out how our property lawyers can assist you, please don’t hesitate to contact our office today +61 3 9822 8588.