Don’t Just Read The Fine Print – Understand It

A Warning for Home Buyers

For those of you who are our clients, perhaps read a few of our articles or just found our website for the first time – you’ll quickly appreciate that we, unapologetically, constantly recommend that people seek professional legal advice on a range of matters. There is, of course, the obvious reason – we’re a law firm! But beyond that, we are truly concerned that our clients are fully briefed and fully understand every aspect of their matter. That means, not just reading the fine print but actually understanding what you’re reading!

Fine print is everywhere in our lives – even to purchase something of relatively small value online, you’ll likely be requested to read the T&C’s and tick the box acknowledging you have. That may be acceptable for small purchases but when you are buying or selling real estate, the stakes are a lot higher and the fine print in the contracts and other documentation may be critical to the conveyancing process and your financial circumstances.

To highlight the importance of actually understanding every stage of the home buying process and ensuring you comply with every condition placed on you, we came across a story which emphasises this very clearly.

This true story relates to a first home buyer who purchased a unit in 2006 and claimed the First Home Owners Grant, which was available at the time, plus received a concession on Stamp Duty under that arrangement.

The purchase contract was subject to a tenancy agreement which did not expire until three months after settlement. When the tenancy ended, the tenant negotiated another six-month lease on the property before moving out some time later. At that time, the property owner moved in and lived there for several years.

The property owner then received notification from the Office of State Revenue, stating that they had not complied with the requirements of the either the First Home Owners Grant or the concession on the Stamp Duty.

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The notice demanded the property owner pay an amount of around $12,000 which was the additional stamp duty, penalties and interest!!!

Definitely not what the home buyer was expecting!

Perhaps this was an innocent oversight but it had turned out to be a very costly error.

Some people consider ‘taking the risk’ and knowingly breaching some such conditions is worth it because they think the chances of getting caught are small. Think again! In this day and age of information sharing across governments and across government authorities and departments and with the crackdown on fraud in many areas, the chances of discovery are greater than ever.

This serves as a warning to all home buyers, to both read and understand all the fine print, terms, conditions and clauses in every document pertaining to your purchase and ensure you comply with every aspect.

Preferably, yes you knew it was coming, contact us and we will go through every detail with you to ensure you fully understand what you are signing and agreeing to.

Our team is extremely experienced in conveyancing matters and can advise you across all stages of the process.

We hope you find this story enlightening and if you are thinking of buying a property, please contact our highly trained conveyancing team to assist you throughout the entire process. Please contact John McLaughlin, McLaughlin & Associates Lawyers, john@mclaughlinlawyers.com.au 07 3808 7777 for a confidential discussion.