Don’t sign that disclosure document

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The written contracts are designed to ensure assets brought into a relationship remain under an individual's control if a couple decide to go their separate ways.

Many new property owners are told they must sign disclosure documents stating that the property is in good working order before a sale can be completed.

While some estate agents might insist that disclosure documents are compulsory, this is not the case.

By law, you are not required to sign these documents. If you do, and you end up with a house which needs unexpected repair work, you will have no recourse with the estate agent.

Can you truly estimate the condition of a property through a surface evaluation? Can the seller? The answer is “no”.

Disclosure documents ask buyers to sign off on a number of key areas, including roofing, geyser condition, wiring and damp. Unless you are a structural engineer or qualified building inspector, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to identify latent property defects.

Disclosure documents can be misleading and ambiguous. For example, a newly painted house is not necessarily a sound house – surface impressions may mask underlying problems that only arise months after a purchase has been made. By signing disclosure documents, you sign away your right to damage claims, making any required repairs your problem.

Signing documents before or without an inspection in order to secure a quick sale can be risky.

Inspections must take place before any sales agreement is signed and should be undertaken by an accredited inspector. They should include a comprehensive report on the interior and exterior of the property. There are a number of cases about property defects in court. These can be time-consuming, costly and frustrating. Avoid them by being clear about the condition of the property you are buying.

Make an informed decision about your property purchase and ensure you get your dream house.

* Information supplied by Inspect-a-Home


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