Written by Louise Maginness - Registered Legal Executive (Property)
Both real estate agents and lawyers work in a people based industry. Situations can sometimes arise where etiquette or protocol lines are crossed. We have had some recent feedback from our clients which may not necessarily be of a legal basis, but should still be of interest.
The vendors have been present at every open home (even though they are using an agent). They followed the purchasers’ builder around the property during their building inspection, and they shadowed the purchasers from room to room during their pre-settlement inspection.
Generally speaking, there is no legal reason why the vendors can’t be present during visits by the purchaser or their representative. However, doing so can make the purchasers feel unable to freely discuss the property between themselves. It can also make the purchaser feel uncomfortable about checking inside cupboards or testing the heatpump during their pre-settlement inspection.
We suggest that you as agent try and steer the vendors away from being present as your role is to be the contact person. Sometimes honesty really is the best policy; perhaps telling a client that it is unusual for the vendors to be present and suggesting they go for a walk or get a coffee.
There have (in rare cases) been thefts from properties during open homes. If this is concerning for your vendor clients you may need to demonstrate the steps you take to prevent this.
The vendors are selling the family home that they have lived in for most of their lives. The agreement is unconditional and the vendors hear through a third party that the purchasers intend to renovate the property following settlement. The vendors are highly upset that the purchasers would renovate the house. They inform the agent that if they knew that the purchasers would be changing the property, they would have never have sold it to them.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do for our clients in these situations, other than to front foot the issue. If the condition or location of a property leads you to believe it is likely to be redeveloped, you could remind your clients that this may be a likely outcome.
There is no legal reason that the vendor can cancel this agreement. Once the purchasers own the property obviously they can do what they like with it including major renovations. Whilst we understand that the vendors have an emotional attachment to the property, they need to move on from this property once sold.
We recently had elderly clients who informed us that they felt rushed during their pre-settlement inspection. When the agent arrived at the property, they informed the purchasers that they needed to be quick as the agent had another appointment and needed to get away promptly.
We will always advise our clients to take their time with pre-settlement inspections and that they should check all chattels and fixtures are in the same condition as when the Agreement for Sale and Purchase was signed. The pre-settlement inspection may only be the second time the purchasers have been to the property so they may be noticing things they didn’t originally note during their first visit. Ovens and heated towel rails, for example, take time to test. A detailed inspection can save both parties unnecessary time and money if an issue is picked up before settlement rather than trying to claim under vendor warranties post settlement. The purchasers are within their rights to complete a full inspection and take their time.
If you have an interesting scenario (it doesn’t need to be of a legal basis) which you would like to discuss, our team is more than happy to chat.