Buying and selling property, whether it’s residential or commercial, is a big deal for most of our clients. Our aim is to ensure the process goes as smoothly and is as stress-free as possible.
Our lawyers [excluding our Court lawyers] can all help you with this type of work so have a read of the information below and head over to Our People page to find someone who can assist you.
Selling – Let’s start at the start
The best time to seek legal advice is before you even list your property.
You’ll need to decide whether you want to market and sell the property yourself, or use the services of real estate agent.
Both options bring with them important considerations.
How can we help?
If you’re planning a private sale, you won’t have some of the protections and tools you would had you used a real estate agent. That by no means precludes a successful sale, but it’s vital you make an informed decision, and are fully aware of the pitfalls.
Most vendors opt to sell through a real estate agency. You’ll need to sign an agency agreement – and it’s imperative you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
Just some of the problems we see from vendors:
- Paying way more commission than they intended
- Confusion around exclusive and multi-agency agreements
- Contracted in for longer than intended
- Not understanding their obligations around extra costs – e.g. marketing
Did you know?
Under recent changes, there is a post-signing “cooling off period” around agency agreements. Once an agent delivers a completed agency agreement, you have until 5pm the following working day to withdraw.
Before you confirm the agreement, you should seek independent legal advice to ensure you know and understand everything you are signing up for.
Understanding sales methods
While your real estate agent can provide you good information on the sales methods open to you, and the relative merits of each, there are specific, and differing, legal considerations for vendors depending on which option you choose.
- Private treaty
- Deadline treaty
- What you need to know – before buyers
Many vendors think of due diligence – especially around a property’s potential problems – as solely the domain of buyers.
Unfortunately, vendors often find out too late, via the buyer, that there’s something wrong with their property. They’re either left chasing their tail trying to fix it … confronting a reduced selling price … or watching a promising deal sink unnecessarily.
Vendors can easily find themselves on the back foot during negotiations. Let’s face it, most buyers want to pay less for a property – and there’s nothing like a problem or two they unearth during due diligence to lessen your bargaining power.
By giving your property the once over first, you’ll buy yourself time and options to rectify problems without compromising your position. What’s more, you can set your property apart from the rest, by proactively providing potential buyers certain critical information.
We can help you decide what you need to explore sourcing, including:
Land Information Memorandums
A Builder’s Report
An Independent Valuation
Code of Compliance Certificates
Confirmation of District Plan compliance
Warranties that you may be unwittingly providing
Did you know? Under recent changes to real estate law you are legally obliged to share certain information with your agent and, in turn, prospective buyers? Failure to do so puts you at risk of large claims, even after the sale has gone through.
Real estate agents – your rights … and duties
Real estate agents have many obligations to their clients – and these have only increased under the recently-introduced Real Estate Agents Act.
However, too many vendors mistakenly believe that, by handing over the sale of their property to a real estate agent, they absolve themselves of all responsibility. It’s vital you know where your agents’ obligations end … and yours start.
We can provide you independent advice on:
- What your agent is required to do for you
- What you can’t expect from your agent
Did you know?
If a real estate agent is aware of a problem with your property, they are legally obliged to let all prospective buyers know. Furthermore, if you inform your agent of a problem with your property and then demand they not tell prospective buyers, they must refuse to act for you.
Sale and purchase agreements
Even if negotiations are nearing an end, and you haven’t yet spoken to us, don’t put it off any longer.
Never, ever commit to anything or put your pen anywhere near a sale and purchase agreement without seeking legal advice.
It’s not uncommon for real estate negotiations to proceed at lightning pace … and vendors run the risk of leaping before they look. Not only can you misconstrue the conditions of the offer, vendors can unwittingly lay themselves open to claims way, way down the track.
It’s important for you to note, too, that there are now two standard Sale and Purchase Agreement templates in the market – both are quite different in content, structure and philosophy.
There are quite different implications for vendors, depending on which is being used. Even if you’ve sold a house previously, this could be new terrain – for example, you might find settlement dates aren’t treated as they used to be and that, as a vendor, you could be signing up for some new, and potentially ominous, contractual comebacks.
BEWARE THE TRAPS
If you’re planning to sell your property, you need to know there are very real traps throughout the process … and, increasingly, they’re coming back to haunt vendors – even after the ink’s well-and-truly dried on the Sale and Purchase Agreement.
“Caveat venditor” – seller beware
One of the biggest myths in real estate is that it’s all “caveat emptor” – buyer beware.
To that end, vendors have traditionally left it to the eleventh hour – usually when it’s time to sign the final documentation – to seek legal advice and guidance. While plenty of vendors have been burnt historically, recent legal changes have brought a raft of new, and very real, risks for those selling property.
Never, as a vendor, has it been more important to know, ahead of time, where you stand.
We’ve put together this guide outlining just some of the important considerations today’s vendors face. Seeking quality legal advice from the outset advantages those selling their property – from strengthening your position during negotiations to safeguarding you against buyers’ future claims.