When you are buying a home you need to know how to legally protect yourself when you make an offer. It’s important to note that an offer is a legally binding contract, you need to have good reason to back out of it you cannot simply just decide you don’t want to go through it anymore.
The Real Estate Agents Authority (or REAA) is a Government led organisation that basically watches over the industry. They publish a sale and purchase guide booklet that informs home sellers and buyers on the ‘ins and outs’ of a sale and purchase agreement. It’s quite basic and in plain English, but it is very informative and gives you all the information that you need to know.
When you make an offer there are five basic things that you should be either, making your offer conditional on or doing before you make an offer.
Check Your Finance
Depending on how much of the property value you are borrowing you need to have your lender check that they will lend to you on that particular property. This is especially true for apartments and townhouses. If you are borrowing a large portion of the purchase price then the bank may have other conditions before they agree to lend to you i.e. a Registered Valuation.
LIM (Land Information Memorandum)
This is provided by the Auckland City Council and is essentially an executive summary of what the council has on file for the property and the land parcel.
It can pay to also check the full property file from Council as this will have the full permit history, drawings and notes the council has on file. Check to make sure that everything that is at the property is also on the property file i.e. no unauthorised works.
It is common practise now to have a building inspection done prior to purchase. The building inspection is a non-invasive test to check the building for structural integrity, water tightness and construction defects.
This is essential for a plaster or monolithic clad home and it is also advisable to obtain a thermal imagery report to check for moisture. A thermal imagery report uses a thermal camera to check for spots of moisture by heat. While they are mostly accurate they can show anomalies sometimes if say the timber has dry rot or if a piece of insulation is missing.
The moisture probe testers that builders use can also give false readings if there is metal in the area they are testing, or electrical wiring.
There is a standard clause in the sale and purchase agreement that gives your solicitor 10 working days to search and approve the title. They will explain any encumbrances, caveats, easements etc that are on there to you. If it is a cross lease property they will also explain to you the finer terms and conditions of the cross lease agreement, these can change property to property so worthwhile looking into this.
Pre-Contract Disclosure Statement
Unit the new Unit Titles Act (2010) it is now a legal requirement that you are provided with a ‘Pre-Contract Disclosure Statement’ this is a signed statement from the vendor or body corporate manager that covers the body corporate fees, the financial statement, last 2 years of body corporate minutes and a water tightness declaration.
You must be provided with this before you make an offer. If you are not provided with this then you do have rights to walk away from the agreement.
These are the standard reports that you should be considering, however on some properties you may need to take it further and this needs to be checked on a case by case basis. If you have any concerns check with your Agent or give me a call.