Many people do not realise that a contract to buy real estate is usually for the purchase of the land, not the house. Obtaining a building inspection prior to signing a contract is highly recommended, although if a contract is signed the purchaser can also use the 2 day cooling off period to arrange an inspection.
If there is anything wrong with the house there is not likely to be any remedy against the vendor (seller) unless there was a specific representation about the condition of the property either made by the real estate agent or the vendor prior to the entry into the contract, and it can be shown that the representation influenced the purchaser’s decision to buy the property.
Form R3 Buyer’s Information Notice [see Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Act 1994 (SA) s 13A] must be made available to prospective purchasers when attending an open inspection or an auction. The Notice is a very useful checklist of matters that may affect the enjoyment or value of the land (for example, checking if any renovations have council approval or if any of the trees are significant) or the safety of anyone going onto the land (for example, the safe fencing of swimming pools or any asbestos that may be on the land).
Purchasers of recently built or renovated houses are protected against faulty construction for five years from the date of the work by the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 (SA). Advice regarding dealing with these types of problems should be sought from Consumer and Business Services in the first instance.
The boundaries can be surveyed by a registered surveyor to be sure that the land has been fenced in accordance with the certificate of title. If there is any encroachment onto adjoining land, or if a fence has been built inside the proper boundary line, this is the time to remedy the mistake. If there is any dispute it is the boundaries shown on the certificate of title that will be upheld, not those marked by the position of the fence.
A licensed conveyancer will be able to give pre-contract advice to prospective purchasers, although obtaining a quote for the cost of the advice is recommended first.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.