‘Caveat Emptor’ is a Latin phrase which translates as “Let the buyer beware”. It is critically important when buying property. So how do you protect yourself when buying a home? What kinds of things should home buyers ‘beware’ of?
The main thing that will protect home buyers is not property law, but due diligence. Essentially, this means doing your homework so that you have all the necessary facts before you in order to make an informed decision.
For example, if you buy an older property only to find after purchase that the electrical wiring is in such poor condition that house needs rewiring, you cannot claim for any compensation to do this. Legally, the fault lies with you, the buyer, for not having done your due diligence.
Due diligence for home buyers
Doing your ‘homework’ and covering all your bases well before you buy is the best way to fully protect yourself. Make sure you carefully check the Vendor Statement of the contract, which provides all pertinent information about the property.
While a Vendor Statement may show you where potential easements are located and list any possible encumbrances, it will not give you a personal history of the house. Would it bother you if you found out after purchase that the home you are now living in was once the scene of a violent crime?
Ask the real estate agent prior to purchase if any such incident has occurred. The agent is obligated to disclose any information they may have if you ask. But only if you ask.
Building and pest inspections
Building and pest inspections are essential prior to purchase. Its worth noting that they do not necessarily include a guarantee to home buyers. Check the fine print to make sure you are covered if the inspection comes back saying the property is fine, but you find a problem after purchase.
Due diligence is the best way to go into a property transaction fully informed, and the only way to go into purchase with peace of mind. Caveat Emptor!
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