Do your homework before you buy a property


Unless the contract makes specific provision, properties in Western Australia are sold in the same state and condition as when first inspected. So it is essential for buyers to conduct a thorough inspection. Once you have inspected the property, if you want changes to be made prior to sale or you want to ensure certain items are included in the sale, you should insert specific terms or conditions into the contract. Such terms are commonly known as special conditions. These terms need to be accepted by the seller.

Make your own enquiries

The seller is not currently required to supply information about a property directly to the buyer. Certain exceptions to this rule apply to strata titled properties. Nor does the standard-form real estate contract used in WA include extensive warranties (promises) by the seller as to the state and condition of the property. Therefore, it is essential that buyers make their own enquiries and not rely on information given to them by the seller or the real estate agent. Checks commonly made by buyers include:

  • Landgate searches of certificate of titles, survey diagram and any encumbrances;
  • Landgate property interest report;
  • termite inspection report;
  • building inspection report;
  • thorough inspection of gas, electrical, plumbing, reticulation and pool fixtures and fittings and specific provision in the contract that these fixtures and fittings be in good working order at settlement; and
  • enquiries of the local government to inspect the building plans and check that the property complies with all local laws and that all structures on the property, including alterations, were constructed with the relevant approvals;
  • property inspection checklists published the Dept of Consumer Protection and  REIWA.

Generally, it is best for buyers to make as many of these checks as possible before signing the contract, engaging consultants such as plumbers or builders as necessary; however, some common checks such as termite or building inspection reports may be covered by special conditions in the contract. Making thorough enquiries will minimise the risk of any nasty surprises.

It is important that the seller and agent do not deliberately mislead buyers about the condition of a property.

Seek our advice before you sign a contract to buy or sell property

As your independent settlement lawyers, contact us to book a consultation with one of our lawyers to review your draft contract.

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