I want to sell my house, what do I need to do?

When selling your home or investment property vendors normally engage two primary professionals: a real estate agent, and a solicitor (or conveyancer). Normally, if a vendor doesn’t have a regular solicitor, most vendors approach a real estate agent first.

It is agreed that a professional and effective real estate agent is crucial if wanting to maximise your sale price.

Obtaining proper legal advice when selling your house is just as important if you want to secure that sale price.

The sale of residential land in NSW is heavily regulated. The regulation can be summarised in only three words: Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure!

Failure to get proper advice could have two disastrous consequences for a vendor: 1) Rescission of the exchanged contract, or 2) a claim for compensation by the purchaser against the vendor.

Proper advice and contract preparation can secure the contract and prevent claims, and, in the opinion of the writer, is very unlikely (unless in extreme cases) to deter any purchaser in a normal market.

In the first place, most vendors may not know that it is unlawful for a vendor to market a residential property unless a written contract is available at the time you commence marketing the property: Conveyancing Act 1919, Section 66R.

Also, the executed contract must also attach a number of documents which are required by law to be included: Conveyancing Act 1919, Section 52A.

A significant risk for a vendor is if the contract doesn’t include all the required documents the purchaser might be able to rescind the contract after exchange: Reg 17, Conveyancing Sale of Land Regulations 2017. Generally the exchange of contracts for a vendor provides significant certainty to both vendor and purchaser alike. But a sharp-minded purchaser might rely on the absence of any of the required documents in order to pull out.

Not only the required documents, there are certain things which should be disclosed in any contract for sale of residential property. Your solicitor (or conveyancer) should ask you a series of questions about residential building works (e.g. renovations or changes to the property), development done with or without council approval, easements, dividing fences disputes, swimming pools and the like. There are a series of warranties implied into contracts (Part 1, Schedule 3, Conveyancing Sale of Land Regulations 2017) however with proper disclosure within the contract a vendor can avoid giving certain warranties.

This is why it is crucial to receive proper advice from a solicitor (or conveyancer) before the contract for the sale of your home or investment property is prepare and marketing commences.

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