Buyers Beware! Disclosure & Due Diligence

When you’ve made the decision to purchase a property, whether it be to live in yourself, or to rent out, there are many things to consider including finance, location, and of course, future resale viability. One of the areas that can sometimes become problematic can occur when something that could impact on the buyer’s decision to purchase a property has not been disclosed.

There is legislation surrounding disclosure issues, and all professional agents should be completely aware of what these are and adopt them as part of best-practice and legal compliance. However, a solicitor will generally advise anyone purchasing that in many instances the ‘buyer beware’ principle needs to be top of mind, and to carry out extensive due diligence prior to signing a contract.

It is up to the buyers to satisfy themselves that the property is not affected by any defects in title, that it can be used for the purposes the buyer intends, and that any building on the property is sound. However, if a vendor actively conceals a known defect, then they could be charged with fraud.

But there is still no general duty on vendors or their agents to disclose matters that affect the property value and may be significant to buyers, but which do not amount to defects in title that can’t be discovered by reasonable inspection.

Make sure you are familiar with issues like zoning, subdivision, flood zones, contaminated land, for example; or even issues that may ‘stigmatise’ a property, such as a past violent crime or any type of tragic event that happened on that property etc. Agents are obliged to disclose any stigmatisation issues that they are aware of. You can also search for information on the internet, contact local/state government authorities, and the solicitor acting on your behalf can also assist in these matters.