Tax and legal advice
Rolf Howard

Should you buy or renovate? Your legal rights and responsibilities

By Rolf Howard

When it comes to weighing up whether to buy or renovate, TV shows like Love It or List It typically hype the tension between cost and profit potential. In real life, it’s not just about the money, nor is the process as quick as it may seem on television.

A host of other issues such as the neighbourhood, whether the property is intended as a family home or an investment, and even sentimental value, will likely play a role.

Above all, savvy property owners should be aware of the legal implications of either choice before choosing whether to buy or renovate.

Renovation – what could possibly go wrong?

Unless you’re just touching up the paint, the answer is “lots.” Pay particular attention to fences, noise, pollution, land use and nuisance. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Adjoining land owners generally share the cost of building and maintaining a fence. Pre-approval by the Council may be necessary, and the Council may regulate height and materials to be used. Intractable disputes may have to be resolved by the Land and Environment Court.

Renovation is messy and noisy, but good site management and time restrictions on the use of power tools may help to avoid disputes. Be aware of recycling, litter and sediment controls and the need for asbestos and lead paint remediation in older properties.

Before any alterations that change the use of land, renovators must apply for consent from the Council. Adjoining owners usually have the opportunity to inspect plans and make objections. A continuing activity or natural occurrence on a property that is unreasonable and preventable, like excessive water runoff, may be a legal nuisance. Renovators should monitor and attempt to address unintended consequences before they become legal problems.

Legal basics of selling and buying

If you list but you intend on staying in the property market, you will also likely buy. Actually, you may renovate, sell and buy. That’s three transactions.

In a sale, the buyer generally has the heavier lift, but since you may do both, this is what you need to know about the buying and selling (or conveyancing) side of things. The conveyancing process typically goes through six steps:

  1. The seller’s real estate agent or conveyancer prepares the contract of sale. The buyer’s conveyancer reviews the contract and negotiates any changes before the parties sign and the buyer pays the deposit.
  2. Searches and inspections. Most contracts are contingent on the satisfaction of certain conditions concerning pest inspections financing, and a variety of property searches. The buyer’s obligation is not fixed until all contract conditions are satisfied.
  3. In residential purchases, prospective buyers may seek a home loan pre-approval to assess borrowing capacity. If you are a buyer, it’s always good to know what you can buy.
  4. Pre-settlement preparation. Final figures may not be available until settlement. Bank some extra money to cover inspections, financing and miscellaneous items like photocopying.
  5. On settlement day, buyer, seller and lender exchange legal documents and the remaining purchase price is paid. There may be final adjustments for taxes, rental fees and the release of existing mortgages. See note above about banking a little extra.
  6. Post-settlement matters. After settlement, the buyer’s lender will notify relevant authorities of the change in ownership and lodge transfer documents lodged with the Land Titles Office.

Ultimately, the choice to renovate or buy is yours. The important thing to remember is that there is much more to consider – including the legal considerations – than just the cost and profit potential.

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About the Blogger

Rolf Howard

Rolf Howard

Rolf is Managing Partner of Owen Hodge Lawyers. He has been in the legal practice since 1986 and a partner of Owen Hodge Lawyers since 1992. Rolf focuses on assisting clients to proactively manage legal responsibilities and opportunities to achieve competitive advantage.

Rolf concentrates on business planning and formation, directors’ duties, corporate governance, fund raising and business succession. His major interest is to assist business owners and their financial advisers plan and implement strategies to build and exit from successful businesses.

FROM THE WEB

podcast

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A softening market can be a difficult time for a property investor with finance approval tightening and property capital growth slowing, and while many real estate agents are also feeling the squeeze McGrath Brighton Le Sands' Bill Tsounias claims it is simply the market returning to normal.

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Bill joins host Phil Tarrant to share his thoughts on the current Sydney property market, and to share the shifts that he has seen in house and unit sale prices following their worst quarter in the past decade.

Bill will unpack why properties are spending longer on market, share what he believes property investors are doing wrong when trying to sell their properties and share the secrets to getting the best out of a real estate agent and an auction in the current softening market.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

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AREAS MENTIONED:

Revesby
South Hurstville
Sans Souci
Strathfield

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Gavin Kemp and his now-fiancé bought their first property together after only six months of dating. They weren’t even living together at the time. Now, two years on, the pair have bought five properties, sold two and have a solid plan in place for their ongoing property journey. 

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In this episode of the Smart Property Investment Show, Gavin joins host Phil Tarrant to discuss how he chose the locations where he decided to invest and how, due to the initial lack of education (something that he now values highly), he lost money on his first two investments.

Gavin will share his thoughts on the current property market, reveal the people who he has leaned on throughout his property journey and discuss why his strategy employs a zero procrastination rule.

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

RELATED AREAS OF INTEREST:

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AREAS MENTIONED:

Redcliffe
Port Macquarie
Loganlea
Launceston
Raceview

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A joint property portfolio before they were even living together
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As the investment market tightens are you looking to learn something that will help you realign or readjust your property goals? In this episode of The Smart Property Investment Show, first time on the podcast Lisa Porter joins host Phil Tarrant to talk about the gems and wisdom associated with her modest portfolio of ‘only’ six properties.

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Listen now as Lisa and host Phil Tarrant discuss how her property journey started in the UK, with the purchase of a rough unit in a lower-socio suburb of South London. Lisa breaks down how that first purchase provided her greatest lesson, one she still applies today - turn off the noise, don’t worry too much about the peripheries and just get on with it.

The pair also discuss how property has given Lisa so much extra value in her life, not just building an asset base and heaps of enjoyment, but it also how it changed the trajectory of her career. Women, she says, shouldn’t be fearful of being proactive and taking control of the direction of their family’s financial future.  

 

If you like this episode, show your support by rating us or leaving a review on iTunes (The Smart Property Investment Show) and by following Smart Property Investment on social media: FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions about what you heard today, any topics of interest you have in mind, or if you’d like to lend your voice to the show, email [email protected] for more insights!

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Walking and talking property investment with Lisa Porter – therapy, empowerment, education and inspiration

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