First Home Owners Guide: What You Need to Know
By Nafsika Palbas
28 October 2019
Buying your first property, particularly your first home, is exciting but it can also be extremely nerve wracking.
First Home Owners: there are many things for you to think about – what suburb you want to live in, what type of property you want and how much you are able borrow from the bank. It can be overwhelming and often you don’t know where to start.
This guide aims to explain some of the legal concepts that you need to know and alleviate some of the uncertainty and anxiety associated with the buying process.
1. Buyer Beware
Properties are sold on a ‘Buyer Beware’ basis. This means purchasers need to do all their investigations before they sign the Contract of Sale. This may include obtaining any building and/or pest reports.
Purchasers should review the Due Diligence Checklist, published by Consumer Affairs Victoria (https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/duediligencechecklist) and made available by agents at open for inspections.
2. Section 32 Statement
(also referred to as the Vendor Statement) – this Statement is prepared by the sellers (the vendors) and tells purchasers about the property – i.e. size and shape of the block, any restrictions or easements, planning and zoning and current Council, water and any land tax charges.
It is critical that purchasers carefully review this Statement and obtain expert advice.
If you are bidding at an auction, you should understand from the real estate agent the proposed settlement period. As you will be required to sign an unconditional Contract of Sale, not subject to finance, it is prudent to have your finances in order prior to bidding.
4. Submitting an offer for a private sale
Your offer can include any specific special conditions you need (i.e. subject to finance approval, satisfactory building and/or pest reports). It is advisable to obtain expert advice before submitting a legally binding offer.
5. Cooling-off period
A cooling-off period of 3 clear business days applies to private sales of residential and small rural properties, unless an exception applies. If you are able to cool-off, you must give written notice. Any deposit paid is refundable, less $100 or 0.2% of the purchase price (whichever is greater). There are a number of exceptions, one of which is that the cooling-off period does not apply to properties bought at, or within 3 clear business days before or after, an auction. It is advisable to obtain expert advice before cooling-off.
6. First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)
… and/or stamp duty concessions – depending on your circumstances and the type and value of the property you are purchasing (or planning to build), you may be eligible to receive the FHOG and/or stamp duty concessions. As this may have a financial impact on your purchase, it is important to seek expert advice on what you may be eligible for (and what requirements you must comply with) prior to purchasing.
Prior to purchasing you should understand from your bank how much you can borrow, what conditions you must meet and how long the bank will take to approve your loan. Generally speaking, in lending a bank will look at your financial capabilities as well as its independent value of the property (which is not necessarily the purchase price). How much a bank is willing to lend will also depend on the prevailing lending market at the time.
Tisher Liner FC Law are experts in property law with over 45 years of experience. We regularly help and guide first home owners through the purchasing process. This includes reviewing Contracts and Section 32 Statement’s of properties you are interested in and helping with the conveyance and settlement of your dream home.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nafsika Palbas, or a member of our property law team.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our First Home Owners Guide, which will set out what you need to know about buying your first off the plan home. Want it direct to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletters today.
The material contained in this publication is meant to be informational only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Tisher Liner FC Law will not be held liable or responsible for any claim, which is made as a result of any person relying upon the information contained in this publication.
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