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Apr 28, 2018


I’m always amazed at the trust people place in others when buying property. People very often seem to go to more trouble ensuring they are buying what they really want when they are buying food, or clothes or tools than they do when they buy a house worth hundreds of thousands more.

Here are some basic steps you can use to protect yourself when entering into one of life’s biggest decisions.

Don’t immediately buy the first house in your price range that you like. Keep looking, there’s lots of houses on the market and you may well find something better. Or it will at least show you what you don’t want, so you can write up a list of things you do and don’t want in a house to give you some clarity.

Get a builder to look at the house before you make an offer to purchase it. The standard REIWA building inspection clause only gives you protection against structural defects, which we almost never see. What we do see all the time are non-structural defects like leaking roofs, leaking shower recesses, sagging ceilings, dodgy electrics, etc, which can be very costly to repair.

Make sure there is a termite clause in the contract as well as a working order clause and State Government Regulations clause to ensure RCD, smoke alarm and pool fencing compliance. 

Make sure you see a title search indicating the property is in the seller’s name and is free of encumbrances that are likely to be problematic, and a plan indicating the property you think you are buying in fact is the property you are buying and is on it’s boundaries. Ask a lawyer or settlement agent to explain these documents to you.

Get a lawyer or settlement agent to also look over the draft contract before you sign it to ensure it provides you with adequate protections. Remember, unlike buying consumer goods, houses are purchased under contract law under which you commit to buying something incredibly expensive with a legally binding contract that assumes you know what you are doing. Unlike consumer goods, you can’t easily and cheaply back out of the deal, so protect yourself before going into it using the steps above.

The above is general information only and should not be relied on as legal advice.

This article first appeared in The Kalgoorlie Miner  Real Estate section on Saturday 28 April 2018

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