Buying or selling your house?

by Natalie Robinson and Rebecca Merry

Sellers and buyers take note, changes have occurred to the standard Sale and Purchase Agreement form used by most agents and lawyers when buying or selling property.

The new form makes it harder to withdraw from a purchase using a finance condition, cracks down on people delivering run-down chattels and will likely take longer to fill out.

Purchasers wanting to pull out of buying a house due to being declined finance will now have to provide more than their word as ‘supporting evidence’ to successfully escape the agreement. If requested by the seller an email or letter from the bank confirming the denial will now be required.

Consequently, buyers who cannot obtain evidence of a lack of finance may now be forced to go ahead with the purchase. Buyers who previously relied on the clause to get out of an agreement for reasons other than finance will no longer be able to do so. It means that purchasers will need to be more vigilant when signing agreements to ensure that they are not forced to go ahead with a purchase they cannot afford or are unhappy with for other reasons.

For sellers, the new agreement will require them to be more honest about the state of their chattels. A non-functioning oven or faulty stove top will now need to be listed in a separate section to those items that are in reasonable working order. If a vendor is not transparent, they may be liable to pay compensation to the buyer for their oversight.

Other changes to the agreement include:

  • a new, lengthy process to resolve disputes over compensation between buyer and seller
  • an optional toxicology report condition
  • an update and expansion of the counterparts clause, and
  • clarification of the timeframe in which deposits may be released

Due to these changes, the agreement has lengthened from 12 pages to 19 pages. It means that more time will be required to read over the agreement and care should be taken where any addition has occurred.

Having a lawyer review your agreement before you sign is the best way to avoid any traps.

If you’d like more helpful tips for home buyers, register for WRMK Lawyers’ upcoming free seminar in Dargaville on February 25 — visit