There are many reasons that you need legal advice on a contract, some of which we will explain in this article.  Also you need to obtain formal written loan approval and pest and building reports prior to unconditional exchange of your contract, and we can help you with that process.

You should come and see Bruce Coode in this office before you go to any auction, because at an auction you will not get the benefit of a cooling off period.  If you are not successful at the auction then he will not charge you for the first two or three contracts that he looks at.  Obviously there is a lot to be done, so it is best not to wait until day before the auction to see him.  You can read more about auctions in our article on that topic, by clicking on the button to the right.


Are you getting what you think you are getting?

We have also seen situations where the contract specifically discloses that there is work contrary to council approval on the property, and the purchasers don't actually understand what this means. Many people, real estate agents, banks, or parents have attempted to explain this to the purchasers but they need to properly understand what this means before the make their investment in the property.

Some contracts say 42 days on the front page, but then there is a special condition allowing for delays of many months in settlement when the purchasers were wanting to sell their property and organise simultaneous settlement of both properties, or when purchasers want to give notice to their landlord on their rental property.

We have also seen contracts for house and land packages where the developer is allowed to change the actual property that is the subject of the contract, even changing to a smaller block, and the purchaser has to purchase that property at that same price and has no right to object.



What does the bank need?

Most of our clients come to us with pre-approval for a loan and they are told by their bank not to worry, that the loan will be 'fine' and can be organised in 'weeks'.  The purchasers need proper advise about the various steps required to obtain a loan, how long it takes to obtain a loan, and what potential hurdles might crop up.

Additionally even after formal loan approval is given the bank can then start requiring additional security, extra documents that may not even exist yet, or proof of certain things it is not possible to obtain proof of.  We recently had trouble with a party who wanted an 'original' pool compliance certificate, as in a physical original document, but that doesn't exist because the system is now digitised.  These sort of arguments can derail the whole settlement, and if it is the 'purchaser's fault' that settlement is running late then you will be charged interest for every day that settlement runs late.  It counts as the purchaer's fault if their bank is running late.  These arguments can cost you a lot of money in the end, and so you need someone who knows what they are doing to help keep the banks moving.


What do you need when?

There are many stages to the purchase of a property, there is the pre-purchase stage where you get the bank rolling, do your budget and start looking for properties.  There is the stage between exchange of contracts and the end of the cooling off period where you need to get unconditional loan approval, pest and building reports and specific legal advice.  There is the stage between the cooling off period and settlement where someone has to keep the bank moving and meet all of their requirements as well as obtaining other documents like land tax certificates and council rates notices, and there is the actual settlement itself.  

These four stages have different requirements and different steps that need to be taken to protect you, the purchaser, and you need an expert who understands contract law generally and property law specifically.  These stages don't take into account any unexpected events, like receiving notice that a new freeway is going to be built next to your property, that would create yet another stage where you need advice to make proper decisions regarding your property.




Can't I save money and use a Conveyancer?

There is an old saying that you get what you pay for.  Lawyers study full time for a minimum of 3 years at University, whereas Conveyancers study about 2 hours a week for about 20 weeks at TAFE.

Lawyers have compulsory Indemnity Insurance and if a lawyer is registered with the Law Society and has a practising certificate then that means that someone at the Law Society has checked that the lawyer has provided a certificate evidencing their non refundable insurance for the year.  You can check this list by clicking here however you don't need to, because lawyers also have an assurance fund so that if someone holds themselves out to be a lawyer and they are not then you can make a claim on the fund.  Basically as a profession we want you to be able to trust that any advice you get from a lawyer, or someone purporting to be a lawyer, is protected by rigorous insurance.


Nobody checks if a conveyancer is actually insured, though they are required by law to be insured no one checks.  If it turns out that they are not insured or are behind in their payments then there is no insurance to protect you, if someone purports to be a conveyancer and is not actually a conveyancer then there is no insurance or assurance fund to protect you.

During our years of training lawyers are trained to deal with all the twists and turns that may crop up including contract law generally and property law specifically, and there are other important areas of law that may come into play like equity or professional indemnity law.  Conveyancers are trained to do the mechanical steps in a Conveyance that goes through without any problems. We regularly are sent clients by Conveyancers who don’t know how to sort out problems that have arisen either because they deal with complex areas of property law, or because it is really a contract law question not a 'conveyancing' question.



What should I do?

Make an appointment to see Bruce Coode and obtain advice on your purchase before you sign any contracts.  Bruce Coode has not only been practising law in Penrith for forty years, but he has an extensive property practise including not only purchases of real estate but also disputes with Council, litigation surrounding property and commercial contracts, compulsory acquisition by government departments and drafting and advising on complex contracts.  He has in the past given lectures on real estate to universities and professional organisations such as valuers, and he has previously acted for three local Councils.  Bruce understands more than your basic conveyance and understands that for many people the purchase of a property is one of the largest financial decisions they will make.  He will explain things to you in plain English and help you to navigate the stressful situation that is buying a house.




More information

If you would like some more information about our firm, or about real estate generally, then follow the blue link to the left for more articles on this topic.