Know your rights be­fore buy­ing house

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - SU­SAN EDMUNDS

When you are in the mar­ket for a house - es­pe­cially for the first time - it can be easy to feel as though you are on the back foot.

You might be deal­ing with a smooth-talk­ing real es­tate agent and a ven­dor who thinks the mar­ket is on their side. But buy­ers have a num­ber of rights to pro­tect them. Know­ing them will help you to avoid be­ing burned.

First, get le­gal ad­vice

Be­fore you do any­thing, get in touch with a good lawyer you can trust. You are al­lowed to have them look over any sale and pur­chase agree­ment be­fore you sign it, to flag po­ten­tial con­cerns. They will also check the ti­tle for you.

Your of­fer

You can make an of­fer sub­ject to as many con­di­tions as you like. This might in­clude things such as a build­ing re­port, LIM, fi­nance, sale of an­other prop­erty, or even just your so­lic­i­tor’s ap­proval. In a hot mar­ket, an of­fer with a lot of con­di­tions may not be as ap­peal­ing to a ven­dor. But the agent should not put pres­sure on you to leave out any­thing that is im­por­tant to you.

Once you’ve signed

When your sig­na­ture is on the dot­ted line, the agree­ment is legally bind­ing. If a con­di­tion can­not be met, for ex­am­ple you get a build­ing re­port that finds se­ri­ous is­sues, you can pull out while your agree­ment is con­di­tional, or rene­go­ti­ate the price.

Deal­ing with agents

Real es­tate agents act for the seller. But they must also en­sure they treat buy­ers fairly and they can­not put either party un­der too much pres­sure. They can­not with­hold in­for­ma­tion about a prop­erty or give you in­ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion. They also can­not make any claims they do not have ev­i­dence for.

Be­fore set­tle­ment

Once your of­fer has gone un­con­di­tional, but be­fore it set­tles, you are en­ti­tled to con­duct a pre-set­tle­ment in­spec­tion. You should check whether the chat­tels listed on your agree­ment are still there and whether any­thing has been dam­aged since you signed your of­fer.

If you spot a prob­lem, con­tact your lawyer im­me­di­ately, who will deal with the ven­dor’s so­lic­i­tor to get it fixed. Just find­ing it is dirty is not enough - if you are re­ally wor­ried about get­ting a clean how you will need a con­di­tion in your sale and pur­chase agree­ment re­quir­ing a full com­mer­cial clean be­fore set­tle­ment.

Buy­ing off the plans

If you buy a prop­erty that has not yet been built, the sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle trick­ier. Most de­vel­op­ers in­clude sun­set clauses in their con­tracts that al­low them to back out if a prop­erty has not been built within a set pe­riod of time. When prices are go­ing up quickly, these are un­pop­u­lar with buy­ers.

The clauses help de­vel­op­ers if costs have blown out, con­struc­tion has proved more dif­fi­cult than ex­pected, or there have not been enough sales. But while buy­ers get their money back, the de­lay can leave some out of pocket.

Many agree­ments al­low de­vel­op­ers to make changes to the plans up to a cer­tain level with­out con­sult­ing buy­ers. Your lawyer should point this out to you. To avoid get­ting caught, do as much due dili­gence on the de­vel­oper as you can. Get up­dates through the de­vel­op­ment process.

If some­thing goes wrong

Your first re­course is usu­ally to your lawyer. If you feel a real es­tate agent has let you down and not com­plied with the law, you can com­plain to the com­pany they work for, or to the Real Es­tate Agents Author­ity.

Re­search, ad­vice and plan­ning can help you on your way to buy­ing your first home.

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