Many years ago when a contract was prepared it was up to the buyer to execute due diligence and carry out relevant searches and enquiries to assess whether there were any issues with the property; the onus was on the buyer, known as a caveat emptor – ‘let the buyer beware.’
Thankfully, we now have much greater emphasis on protection for the buyer, particularly in the residential property market; there are now statutory obligations for sellers to disclose things such as whether or not any of the improvements on the property have been carried out by the owner or a professional builder, for example.
In addition to the statutory requirements, there is the issue of misrepresentation if a seller makes a statement in a contract that proves to be incorrect, then the seller may be liable to the buyer for misrepresentation.
Sellers need to be mindful when they enter into contracts that they have given a full and frank disclosure to a buyer; to avoid being the defendant in an expensive and time-consuming litigation.
It is important for both parties to engage the services of a solicitor/conveyancer to check the contract thoroughly; and in most cases a building and pest report should also provide some invaluable information to the buyer.