How do I obtain a copy of the contract & what are key areas I should be looking at?

How do I obtain a copy of the contract & what are key areas I should be looking at?

14 Jan 2019

In our humble experience, a contract for sale in NSW is in many respects fairly standard in wording and conditions.

Standard Contracts

Most Solicitors and Conveyancers use a Standard contract from The Law Society and/or the Real Estate Institute. The clauses in it are worded so they comply with NSW law and with the practicalities of buying and selling a property.

Special Conditions

Virtually all solicitors include special conditions within the contract, which are designed to take care of some of the processes that have become necessary and were not included in when the standard contract was produced.

There was an old school solicitor near us that had a bit of a reputation of having a rather dry wit. He titled his special conditions “Not so special conditions”. His point was that most solicitors use fairly standard clauses. Imagination and humour in law and Conveyancing is pretty uncommon.

Required notices

These are usually buried in the standard contract pages and sometimes the special conditions. They are required by law and must be displayed and printed in particular sizes with particular wording. Again, they are standard and unlike the conditions; must be presented in a particular way. The standard cooling off clause which allows a buyer to exchange the contract and then rescind the contract within 5 working days is one such notice. We’ve seen some agents and solicitors change that wording to read 10 working days. Because the notice no longer conforms, the contract is invalid. Be mindful to check that no one has amended the prescribed notices, and that they’re all there.

Required certificates and searches

These are the documents attached to the contract so the buyer has more certainty about what they’re buying. Again, the law says they must be included in the contract or the contract is invalid. For example certificates 149 from the council is mandatory.

Here’s some of the things we pay close attention to:

  • Where does the sewer line run, is it where I thought, is it going to stop me doing what I want to do
  • Are there any other easements or covenants that will affect me
  • Does the property have flooding or is there a heritage order on the property
  • Does the deposited plan or strata plan confirm that what I think I’m buying is actually what I’m buying

Things that cause solicitors grief

Release of deposit clauses. This enables the seller to use the deposit to buy another property. Solicitors put them in when they are acting for the seller and then become annoyed with the clause when they are acting for the buyer. The reason is; if the deposit is released and the property doesn’t settle, it can be hard to get the money back. This puts Solicitors in a position where they risk being sued. They will always put forward the safer option, even if that means you can’t sell the property and go broke.