Buying a house is one of the largest and more complex purchases you will make. The stress and costs of getting it wrong can be significant.
Even with all the checks and reports, things can go wrong. If you have problems, what you do depends on:
- where in the buying process you are
- if you bought privately or through a real estate agent.
Stages of buying
Making an offer: The buyer signs a sales and purchase agreement with or without conditions. Conditions are tasks that need to be completed for the offer to be finalised. For example an offer might be conditional on the buyer getting a satisfactory LIM or building report, or on the bank giving a home loan. The agreement will state a date where the conditions need to be satisfied. The buyer is responsible for making sure their conditions are worked through, ie if a condition is getting a building report, they are responsible for getting it done.
Going unconditional: When the conditions in the agreement are met, the sale goes unconditional, ie the home loan application is approved, the building report is satisfactory. At this point, it becomes very difficult to cancel the agreement.
Pre-settlement inspection: The buyer inspects the property to make sure it is in the same state as when they signed the agreement.
Settlement: The sale is completed on settlement date. The buyer's lawyer works with the lender to transfer the money to the seller. The buyer gets the keys and the sale is complete
It's easiest to fix problems before you go unconditional or before you settle. After settlement it will be more time consuming and costly.
Working with your lawyer or conveyancer
Issues before signing a sales and purchase agreement
If your conditions are written correctly by your lawyer, you can avoid being stuck with a house with serious problems. For example, if a condition of your agreement is a satisfactory building report, and the report comes back with dux quest piping which will cost thousands to replace, you might be able to pull out of the sale.
Small changes to the wording of the conditions can make a big difference to your rights. Make sure you check everything in the agreement with your lawyer before you sign it.