API Online

January 15, 2016

On the fifth anniversary of Queensland’s floods…

What do you do when a property you’ve contracted to sell is damaged (by flood, fire or whatever) before settlement? What do you do if you’re the buyer of that property? These critical questions arose for more than a few sellers and buyers across Queensland during the state’s extensive flooding of December 2010 and January 2011.


These questions are still of concern to all involved in selling, buying or renting a home in the sunshine state. In one instance, the buyers and sellers of a flood-damaged property could not agree on what to do, so they took the matter to court.
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May 6, 2013

A couple’s boundary battle

It was the heart of this Aussie family’s castle, but now it was about to be taken away. The Jones family was left reeling after a Brisbane City Council officer showed up on their doorstep to inform them they were about to lose most of their precious backyard.


The council had received a complaint from a resident about the family’s rear boundary alignment. As a result, council had conducted a site inspection with and discovered that sometime in the past the rear of their block had been effectively and illegally extended into the adjoining park.

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April 3, 2012

When one real estate agent blows the whistle on another

Some agents seem to delight in making it difficult for novice homebuyers, as the story below reveals.


The whistle-blowing agent here was not known to me and his detailed account (slightly edited) arrived completely unsolicited. I subsequently phoned him and suggested that, for what it might be worth, he should personally report the whole matter to the Office of Fair Trading. But don’t hold your breath, I added. Here is the letter;

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March 20, 2012

Winning auction bidders beware

Victorian solicitor Peter Mericka was correct when he stated in his ‘Auctions exposed as non-binding’ story that, as every agent, auctioneer, solicitor and conveyancer knows, a contract for the sale of real estate must be in writing and signed before it can be enforced.


More particularly such a contract will be enforceable at law even if it’s only ‘evidenced’ in writing. This requirement flows from Section 4 of the Statute of Frauds 1677, an Act of the English parliament, which has been incorporated more or less in legislation across Australia in these terms: “no action may be brought upon any contract for the sale … of land … unless the contract … or some memorandum or note of the contract is in writing and signed by the party to be charged, or by some person by the party lawfully authorised.”
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April 4, 2011

Selling your home without an agent

This is a story that was told to me recently by a couple that sold their home on their own, without an agent.


“When we decided to sell our home we knew a lady agent who’d given us a free market analysis – an estimate of what our house was worth. We asked what her commission would be. She said it varied, it wasn’t always a set amount, and it could range anywhere from six per cent to nine per cent, depending on the market.

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March 1, 2011

Forget the insurers; let’s blame the banks

The blame for many uninsured property and financial losses from the recent floods and Cyclone Yasi can be sheeted home to banks, building societies, credit unions and other lenders.


Never mind the much-vilified insurance companies whose doubly-devastated policy-holders found themselves not covered for flood or storm surge. By not making sure residential and business borrowers were properly insured, banks and other lenders failed not only these customers but also themselves and ultimately their own shareholders.

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January 18, 2011

Honesty absent in flood-prone home purchase

Most of us believe that nurses are very trustworthy – as surveys regularly show. I first really trusted and appreciated nurses during the big cleanup after Queensland’s 1974 Australia Day floods – 37 years ago this month.


I had been helping friends whose highset home in the Brisbane suburb of Graceville went completely under water. On the way home, with mud-splattered brooms and shovels sticking out of my VW’s passenger window, I stopped at traffic lights. Suddenly a volunteer nurse appeared and gave me a protective tetanus shot. 

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December 23, 2010

Disclosing lender valuations

Should banks and other lenders be obliged by law to give their valuations to borrowing customers


Below is part of a note sent recently to my local Federal Member suggesting that, while banking reform is currently under government consideration, the Treasurer might look at legally requiring banks and other lenders to give copies of their valuations to their borrowing customers. Read more →

December 2, 2010

Why pay agents to sell to your neighbours?

Why would you pay a real estate agent tens of thousands of dollars in commission to sell your property to the next-door neighbour? And why should agents who make such close-to-home sales pocket full fees?

Believe it or not, these sorts of sales happen all the time all over the country with sellers paying not only sales commissions and marketing/advertising expenses but also, in the case of sales by auction, the auctioneers’ fees and other not insignificant auction expenses.


This is the reason that, whenever I see clients putting their properties up for sale, I strongly suggest that the first thing to do is to approach the neighbours. Not just next door, of course, but for a block or two in all directions. You might be surprised to find, I say, that someone not too far away may be very interested in buying your property. And, if not your neighbours themselves, friends or family of theirs might turn out to be keen to buy your property. Trust me, this is not wishful or fanciful thinking on my part. You have only to read the weekend newspapers’ auction reports for occasional proof. Read more →

November 16, 2010

What building inspection reports don’t cover

Property buyers must always ensure, when contracting subject to satisfactory building inspection reports, that adequate time has been provided for this in their contracts. In my experience, the ideal time is 30 days from the contract date.


This allows for the inspector to make his inspection, prepare his report, deliver the report to you, and for you to consider it. Thirty days also allows time for any supplementary inspections that may be needed from other professionals and for you to find out the likely costs of rectifying any matters of concern raised in the report. Finally more time is needed than the agents’ usual period of 14 days because buyers who have received a less than satisfactory report may wish to renegotiate the contract price with the sellers. Read more →

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