Buying or selling real estate?

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Our checklist covers all of the important things you need to know when buying or selling your next house.

Often a property is the most valuable asset that you own, so when you are considering selling that asset you should make sure that you seek appropriate advice, and take the right steps to ensure a hassle free transaction. Some of the main points to keep in mind include:

  • A real estate agent will likely ask you to sign an agency agreement when they list your property. We are able to assist you to review and understand the terms of the agreement.
    • Before you list your property for sale you must ensure that you have a draft Contract for Sale available for inspection by any potential purchaser. There are several documents that must be attached to the Contract to comply with legislation. You are also required to make certain promises about the property. Required documents include:
      • a zoning certificate from the local council;
      • a diagram from the sewer authority showing the location of the authority’s sewer;
      • a full title search including a plan of the land and copies of any easements etc.

Essentially, you must promise that:

  • the zoning certificate accurately reflects the zoning of the land;
  • there is no other sewer on the land except as depicted in the drainage diagram;
  • the property is not adversely affected by any proposals of any government authorities (such as road widening);
  • you are not aware of any dispute or claim regarding boundary fences or encroachments by or upon the property;
  • there is nothing about any structure on the land that would give rise to the making of an upgrade or demolition order.

If you do not comply with the vendor disclosure requirements, any subsequent purchaser may be entitled to withdraw from the sale and have their deposit refunded. We are able to assist you in dealing with any such affectations in the initial draft of the Contract to provide you all available protections.

The Contract will also determine what is included in the sale and also anything which is specifically excluded.

  • If the property contains a building in which people sleep, legislation also requires you to make a statement about smoke alarms. If the property contains a swimming pool, you must also make a statement in the Contract about the pool’s compliance. The state government has recently introduced new regulations requiring swimming pools to be registered and self-assessed. From April 2014 Contracts relating to properties with swimming pools will also need to have attached a certificate of compliance. Refer to our recent article for more information.
  • You might consider attaching a Surveyors Report and Building Certificate to the Contract. These documents are not essential and do not form part of the vendor disclosure requirements. However, if you already hold those documents particularly where the Surveyors Report indicates encroachment issues attaching them to the Contract by way of disclosure puts the purchaser on notice of those issues.
  • If you have recently undertaken any building works (either under contract or as an owner builder), details of council approvals and final inspections should be attached to the Contract. A copy of the certificate of Home Owners Warranty Insurance should be attached where relevant.

There may be instances where a property owner has undertaken building work or other development or modification of the property without approval or not in accordance with the conditions of approval. These non-compliance issues should also be addressed (and a further clause added) prior to exchange of Contracts to avoid potential claims from the purchaser.

  • When placing your property on the market you should consider whether you will be able to give vacant possession of the property to a purchaser and, if so, when? You need to ensure a notice to vacate is given to any tenant (where relevant) or you give yourself enough time to secure an alternate residence and move out of the property.
  • While stamp duty obligations rest with the purchaser, there may be other tax implications (such as GST, Land Tax or CGT) which you will need to consider on your sale.

If you are thinking of selling or would like some further information on the conveyancing process generally, please contact our expert property law team on (02) 4925 2077.

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