Real Estate and Conveyancing Q and A 

Often people buying or selling houses are looking to save their bucks where they can. For many, this means trying to DIY their conveyancing or some other property transaction. While it’s tempting to do so, this can actually cost you more dollars in the long run. 

Without a lawyer stepping you through the process, there are many legal snares awaiting you. We’ve compiled a handy Q and A of all things Real Estate and Conveyancing to get you thinking about when you’d benefit from engaging our services.

Q: When do you need a lawyer for land-related agreements? 

A: You’re entering into a contract for the sale of land 

The sale of land is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller. Without a lawyer looking it over, it’s difficult to fully understand your rights and obligations under the contract—and how to enforce them in the event of a dispute. 

A: You’re experiencing a dispute over land ownership 

Property disputes happen often and easily. 

For example, consider the following scenario: A uses an easement over B’s land to access his property. The terms and conditions outlining A’s use of the easement are specified in the easement agreement. The easement agreement specifies that A’s use of the easement is limited to accessing and leaving their property. But A decides to wash their car on the easement, and allow people to park over the easement when they are visiting. 

What implications does this have for B? How can B enforce their rights over A? 

Unfortunately, it’s easy for this situation to escalate into a complex neighbour dispute. Nobody wants to feel hopeless and stressed over their own property, so don’t let it get that far—contact a lawyer to know what can and can’t be done.

A: You’re wanting to lodge a caveat, or know if a caveat has been lodged against your property 

A caveat is an interest in the land which stops most dealings over the land. For example a caveat will stop an owner selling the property or registering a mortgage. It can be a strategic move or a real point of frustration, depending on your situation. 

A lawyer can assist in discovering:

  • whether anyone has registered a caveat over your property;
  • whether this was done lawfully; and 
  • whether you can lodge a caveat against another’ property.

If a caveat is lodged unlawfully, the caveator can be liable for damages. Otherwise, you’ll need legal assistance to help remove the caveat over your property.

A: You’ve been notified that the government intends to resume your land 

Think Daryl Kerrigan ala The Castle. One day you’re a proud homeowner, the next you find out the government intends to resume your land and compensate you for it. A little-known fact is that all land in Australia (save for land that is native title and belonging to Indeginous peoples) is property of the Crown. In other words, even when you buy a house or area of land, the government retains their authority to resume the land and kick you out.  The Castle illustrates a pretty inaccurate version of how the law works (Kerrigan stumbles across a former QC, who takes pity on him and represents the family pro bono, ultimately saving the land from the government’s seizure). 

In reality, if you get a notice that the government wishes to resume your land it’s critical you seek legal advice as soon as possible.

A: You’d like to know if development is planned for the area

You’d think finding out about any developments planned for the area would be straightforward. In fact, you might even assume that a real estate agent is obliged to inform you of these developments prior to purchase—but you’d be wrong. Not long ago in Sydney, 140 new home buyers were not warned before purchase that their new homes would be smack bang in the path of a future motorway. 

That’s because a real estate agent is under no obligation to inform you of any upcoming developments. To find out, you’ll have to ask your local council, a town planner or a lawyer. If you’re tempted to go down the local council route, be aware this includes charges. Councils also list developments under separate searches, which often come with their own service fee. So make it easy on yourself and ask a lawyer.

A: You’re concerned about land contamination (or you should be)

Land contamination searches are not a standard part of building inspections, but they are pivotal to the health of everyone in your home (recommended watching: Erin Brokovich). While land contamination searches fall outside of the scope of a real estate agent’s job, they are easily handled by a lawyer.

As you can see, there are a range of situations where having a lawyer is essential to your use and enjoyment of your home. Contact Green & Associates on +1 (02) 8080-7585 for tailored advice and to ensure your peace of mind when it comes to real estate and conveyancing issues. 


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