When you’ve finally found the perfect property, don’t let excitement take over. Take a step back and consider the potential risks involved in the purchase transaction and work with your conveyancer to ensure that those risks are minimised and/or that you are protected against them.
The principle of caveat emptor—let the buyer beware—applies to all South Australian property purchases. This means that you need to ensure that the property is what it seems. Even genuine, up-front sellers can inadvertently cause future complications and expense for buyers if they are unaware themselves of issues with their properties.
Your first line of defence is to engage a building inspector to verify the structures on the land and conduct an identification survey to determine where the property improvements are located with respect to the boundaries. As part of your due diligence we recommend that you obtain the building certificates for the property, however, it is not always possible to obtain these before settlement.
Title Insurance: Can you afford not to have it?
The best way to ensure that you are protected from issues arising after your preliminary inspection of the property is to purchase homeowner title insurance. The Australian Institute of Conveyancers’ SA division (AICSA) encourages the purchaser to take out a title insurance policy, which, for a one-off premium, protects against known and unknown risks, ‘that threaten ownership and use (including structures) of the property until its resale’.
For a relatively inexpensive premium, title insurance covers a broad range of risks that have potentially expensive consequences:
- fraud, forgery and identity theft
- illegal building work or structures
- contravention of zoning by-laws
- breaches of covenants
- survey and/or boundary defects
- planning and title defects.
The possibility of illegal building work or structures is a very real concern. AICSA quotes an Archicentre Australia report that noted that more than 43% of South Australian homes have some form of illegal building works. Their presence can delay settlement and incur local government penalties. Matters become even more complicated if the issues aren’t detected until after settlement. In the worst-case scenario, the local council can require non-approved structures to be demolished at the new owner’s expense. Having title insurance provides cover and peace of mind should such a situation arise.
Cover all your bases: Work with the conveyancing professionals
While buying a title insurance policy is a prudent investment in protecting your new property, it doesn’t eliminate the role of the conveyancer, whose input is necessary to complete many steps in the property transaction. At Conveyancing Matters we provide experienced professional services that ensure that your property purchase is completed efficiently with the minimum of stress.