Buying a block of land? Avoid any pitfalls or future issues by getting in touch with the expert land and property lawyers at Stacks.
Stacks Law Firm has many years of experience in assisting clients wishing to buy blocks of land. Unlike the process for buying a house, you don’t need to worry about construction issues, but there are a few additional things you do need to think about.
The most important consideration is how you intend to use the land. There are a number of issues affecting land use and you will need to do your homework to make sure your intended use for the land is actually possible. Don’t just make assumptions. For example, if you plan to build a house on the land and live there, will Council zoning in the area permit residential use?
A Stacks Law Firm Conveyancing expert will be able to advise you about some of the pitfalls involved in purchasing a block of land, and assist you in making sure you have all the information you need before going ahead with your purchase.
Some issues to consider when buying a block of land:
- Services - If you plan to build a house and live on the block of land, you need to know if services like power, water, sewerage, gas, internet and telephone are available. If so, where are they located? Make sure you have this information before you commit to buy, as it could prove costly down the track if the land plan does not make provision for these services.
- Approval to build on the block - Before you can build a house, shed, road, dam or any structure on the block of land, or even dig a hole in the land, you will need building or development approval (a DA). It is advisable to find out about any issues that might prevent you from developing the land the way you intend before you commit to buy. The local council’s town planning department will be able to provide you with much of this information.
- Easements or rights of way - Other parties may have the right to access the land such as an electricity or water authority (eg. to maintain their equipment). An easement may affect where you can and cannot build on your block of land.
- Covenants - Check whether there are any covenants in place on the land such as restrictions on the building materials you can use or how the land can be developed. For example, if the block is near an airport or racecourse you may be required to install double-glazed glass in your house to minimise noise, which will cost you more.
- Soil - It’s a good idea to have the soil tested, as the type of soil could have an impact on the cost of the foundations for a house.
- Slope - If the block of land is on a slope and you intend to build a home, you will need to consider the added construction costs and issues such as drainage.
- Neighbouring properties - make sure you look closely at the neighbouring properties to rule out any possible issues. For example, if there is a vacant block of land next door, see if there are any building proposals that may impact on you, or on your plans for the land.
- Dimensions of the block - A Surveyor will be able to tell you whether the dimensions of the land match up to those on the land plan.
What are the steps involved in buying a block of land?
- The Contract
We will explain the Contract to you, ask the Vendor’s Conveyancer to make any necessary or desired amendments, and have you sign the Contract.
If you are borrowing money to help buy the land, we will need to give your finance provider copies of certain documents. We can contact the person you have been dealing with, in order to avoid unnecessary delays in getting your finance approved.
Normally you will need to pay a deposit equal to 10% of the purchase price to the Vendor’s real estate agent before we commit you to buy the land. Sometimes an agreement is reached for a smaller deposit to be paid. If you are not able to pay a deposit, please contact our office to discuss the option of paying a deposit by way of a Deposit Bond.
- Exchange of contracts
Once all of the above matters have been dealt with, we will confirm with you that you are happy to proceed. If you are, we will exchange the Contract signed by you with the Contract signed by the Vendor. Then the block of land is off the market!
- Cooling Off period
You will then have 5 working days to ‘cool off’. This means that if you change your mind about buying the land, you can still back out (as long as you have not agreed to waive your cooling off rights). If you validly exercise your cooling off rights, you will forfeit to the Vendor 0.25% of the purchase price but you will get back the balance of your deposit and be free to walk away from the Contract.
- Between exchange and settlement
During this period (usually 4 – 6 weeks) we will conduct enquiries into the title of the land you are buying. Several of these enquiries are to Council and the Water Authority to ascertain whether or not rates are paid up to date. We will prepare a Transfer and arrange for it to be stamped by the Office of State Revenue on or before settlement. We will also be working with your finance provider (if applicable) to ensure that everything is in order for settlement to take place on the appointed day.
- The last week before settlement
We will calculate the amount that you owe the Vendor (including a daily adjustment for any rates and levies together with any other agreed allowances) and make arrangements to collect the money from you and your finance provider (if applicable). You will be able to have a final look at the land to make sure everything is in order before we complete your purchase. We will remind you about this as settlement gets closer. You should then contact the agent to make a time to go back to the land for a final inspection. If everything is in order, we will make arrangements for your purchase to be settled. If there are problems with your final inspection that the agent cannot resolve, let us know and we will contact the Vendor’s solicitor to work things out.
Today is the day you will own your new land! Once we have searched the title one last time, we will attend settlement and ensure that the correct title and transfer documents, (correctly signed by the vendor) are handed over. Then we will give the Vendor’s Conveyancer the balance of money owing on the land. As soon as we return to our office, we will call you to let you know that settlement has taken place.
Need help buying a block of land? Call us today