Most of our conveyancing clients come to us once the Contract of Sale has already been signed. It is a rare treat when a client contacts us before having purchased a new property. With this reality in mind, this blog is aimed to provide a brief introduction or guide for prospective purchasers currently navigating the property market on their own. Of course, we highly recommend that you contact a solicitor for advice before purchasing a property, but in the event that you do not take this path, here are just a few tips.
First things first, READ the contract in full. Most people will not bother to do this very simple thing. The Contract of Sale should include the Contract terms (being the Particulars of Sale, General Conditions and, in some cases, Special Conditions) and the Vendor Statement (often referred to by real estate agents and solicitors as “the Section 32”).
The Particulars of Sale
Again, read every detail. You must ensure that the description of the land matches the Title Search as attached to the Vendor Statement and that all goods you anticipate receiving are included in the “goods” section. Goods generally included in the sale of a property are fixed floor coverings, electric light fittings and window furnishings – but you must check the contract to be sure and you can negotiate for additional goods to be included. There are various other important details set out in the Particulars of Sale so be sure to read them carefully.
What exactly is the Vendor Statement, you may ask? The Vendor is legally required to disclose certain things about the property to any prospective purchasers. This is done via the Vendor Statement, which includes such information as outgoings associated with the property (such as rates), zoning information and, if applicable, notices received by the Vendor that may affect the property (such as a notice regarding redevelopment of a neighbouring property). Attached to the Vendor Statement will be a selection of documents or “certificates”. The usual certificates will include:
1. A “Register Search Statement” (aka a Title Search);
2. A Rates Statement from the local council;
3. A Water Information Statement from the relevant water authority;
4. A Planning Certificate;
5. A Land Tax Clearance Certificate from the State Revenue Office;
6. A VicRoads Certificate; and
7. An Owners Corporation Certificate (only if the property is affected by an owners corporation; this is usually relevant in the case of an apartment as opposed to, for example, a free-standing house).
If any of the above are missing you should ask the Vendor or the Vendor’s solicitor or conveyancer for this information.
Special Conditions versus General Conditions
You will become familiar with the General Conditions of Sale – these appear in almost every contract for the sale of land in Victoria. You should read them and become familiar with them. You should also be aware that many contracts of sale will also include Special Conditions which will trump any General Conditions in the contract. Read the Special Conditions very carefully as they may alter or supersede the General Conditions.
The above is just a brief introduction for any prospective purchasers looking to enter the property market in Victoria. Should you need any further information or legal advice, please contact our office and one of our conveyancing solicitors here at Carew Counsel will be happy to help. We are able to offer a fixed fee in regards to conveyancing matters and while this blog is largely directed at those looking to purchase, we of course act for those looking to sell.