Consumer Watch: Do your research and don’t rush real estate deals

Candice EvansGeraldton Guardian
House-hunters may be feeling some pressure to buy now to avoid missing out in future in what is currently a seller’s market.
Camera IconHouse-hunters may be feeling some pressure to buy now to avoid missing out in future in what is currently a seller’s market. Credit: andresr/Getty Images

Western Australia’s residential property market is booming right now, so house-hunters may be feeling some pressure to buy now to avoid missing out in future.

While it might be a seller’s market, we would urge buyers to avoid making hasty decisions they might later regret by doing their own research, asking lots of questions and seeking professional advice. There is no mandatory cooling-off period for real estate contracts in WA, meaning it’s very difficult to back out once a written offer is signed.

If borrowing money to buy a property, it’s wise to firstly research loan interest rates and conditions offered by various financial institutions before organising a pre-approved loan through your preferred lender, so you know how much you can borrow.

When the time comes to make an offer, you will need to complete and sign the box on the Offer and Acceptance document titled “Finance Clause Is Applicable” and name the lender that has pre-approved the loan. This point is important because if the loan isn’t granted by that particular lender, then the contract may no longer be binding on the buyer.

If a lender isn’t specified, the buyer would be legally bound to accept any loan offer, even if the terms of that offer may seem unreasonable.

It is important to understand all of the finance conditions before signing a contract, and to obtain professional advice if you are uncertain.

Unless the contract states otherwise, properties are sold in more or less the same state as when first inspected. That’s why it is essential to conduct a thorough physical inspection of the property well before settlement is finalised. Consumer Protection was recently made aware of several property sales where settlement was delayed because the buyers had only discovered faults with the property at the final inspection.

If you want changes to be made to the property, or certain items to be included in the sale, you should insert specific terms into the contract to that effect. These terms would need to be accepted by the seller.

Our website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au contains a lot of information about buying a property, including an inspection checklist, which covers the types of features to consider and potential questions to ask. For more information or advice, contact Consumer Protection at consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au

Candice Evans is senior regional officer for Consumer Protection in the Mid West and Murchison

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