Every Council in Queensland has different searches, costs and time frames for delivering information to buyers which can be confusing for everyone, including property buyers, real estate agents and general law firms.
To help make things clearer we're sharing the most recent and most important information about buying property in Brisbane here.
There are many issues connected with buying property in Brisbane that can cause significant loss to the buyer if you do not complete their due diligence correctly.
Carrying out the correct property searches before you buy any property can save you money and time and prevent on-going problems.
The types of property searches or investigations recommended will vary for each buyer depending on variables such as:
- property location;
- property type;
- buyer plans for the property.
Protect yourself with special clauses in the contract
Generally once a buyer has signed a contract they can only terminate the contract in specific circumstances. If adverse search results are obtained during a buyer's investigations they have limited rights of recourse in all but a few situations.
That's why it's important for buyers to get specialised legal advice about their Brisbane conveyancing matter before they sign the contract. By getting informed advice before you sign a contract, potential issues can be protected against through drafting and adding special clauses to the contract in negotiation with the seller.
If a buyer adds well-drafted special conditions to their contract they effectively provide themselves with insurance so that, in the event of an adverse search result, they have some reasonable options. For example, a right to compensation or repair of the issue, or the ability to terminate the contract which isn't normally available under the regular terms and conditions of a property contract.
Get Informed Before You Buy Your Brisbane Property
There are several ways to get essential information about the Brisbane property you're interested in buying with a few key issues to consider and specific searches recommended.
If you are intending to move to Brisbane there are some geographic considerations you need to be aware of when deciding which searches you should request.
1. Flooding information
Following the severe weather events in 2011 and 2013, The Brisbane City Council now has extensive information on flooding here. It includes a free interactive flood map that everyone buying property should review with their conveyancing lawyer prior to buying a property or during their Brisbane conveyancing process.
You can get an idea of the flood map overlay and whether you property is at risk of flooding by getting a Floodwise Property Report.
Ideally buyers should check the flood map before signing a contract because if a property is at risk of being flooded based on historical information, that does not give you the right to terminate the contract.
If buyers are concerned the property they're interested in is located in a designated flood area after signing the contract then it's important they talk to their Brisbane conveyance lawyer immediately to discuss their options as delay can significantly impact on their rights.
2. Lot information
You can find free information on lots and boundaries, road and rail networks, land parcels and tenure and flood affected areas with topographical maps at Queensland Globe.
Google maps will also give you a quick overview of the location of the property and show where the property is relative to the various road systems, creeks, waterways or rivers and other landmarks.
Buyer Plans for the Property
It's important to decide if you're going to live in the property, extend or improve it, for example by adding a pool, or knock it down to build units.
If you plan to knock down the property or make additions you or your conveyancing lawyer will need to check the zoning and Council laws regarding what can be done to properties in the area of Brisbane where you wish to buy.
Researching a property on the Brisbane City Council website is a great starting point for background information on the property. You can also send a general request to the council to find out what level of planning approval you need depending on what you're intending to do here.
The property type you're buying may be vacant land, a house or a unit on the 20th story of an off-the-plan development.
Each property type requires different information to be researched and review.
For example, if the property is part of a body corporate then you will need to review the levies and records of the body corporate which should be available from the body corporate manager.
If the property has a lease then you will need to check the details of the existing lease with the manager of the property.
If you're buying a block of land, you may require a soil test and you may need to get the boundaries checked by a surveyor when buying a house or a piece of land.
If a building has any extra structures, alterations or additions you should do a council check for building approval on residential properties. If the structure seems to need approval then you will need to order the appropriate searches here. This allows you to check whether the structure has the required approval so you know if you need to budget extra funds to complete building work.
Property age maybe another consideration since some properties are heritage approved which may reduce your ability to renovate or use the property moving forward so is always an important consideration.
Key facts to discover include the property age, zoning and character overlay which also tie into the research on what approvals you may need when adding or altering structures on your property.
Unregistered easements or covenants can't always be identified with council searches but should be considered as they may have an impact on your use of the property and restrict additions to some areas such as adding pools, sheds or fencing.
Other Useful Resources for Buying Property in Brisbane
Brisbane City Council
The Brisbane City Council is the relevant local council. Visit their website here or access their great phone service by calling 07 3403 8888.
Rates are paid quarterly to the council and are due for payment in February, May, August and November. Find out more about Brisbane City Council rates here.
Queensland Urban Utilities
On 1 July 2010 Queensland Urban Utilities took over the distribution and billing responsibilities for water in the Brisbane area. For homes and businesses, water levy bills are generally due at the same time as the council rates listed above and are also paid quarterly. Visit the Queensland Urban Utilities website here.
Some buyers have questions about their water bill and there's some useful information about understanding your bill here.
It's important for buyers to consider zoning information because Brisbane zoning affects how you can use a property under planning rules and allows you to decide if a property has development potential. For a fee the Brisbane City Council provides a great service where a Council town planner provides written advice about the property zoning. Find out more here.
Building Approvals for Residential Property
The Brisbane City Council has an extensive useful information regarding the various requirements for residential building projects here. It includes information on new dwellings, additions, fences (including pool fencing), landscaping and plumbing or drainage works.
If you have concerns regarding any structure on the property you're intending to buy then read the council information and discuss the issue with your the Brisbane Charter Conveyancing team who will endeavour to create a satisfactorily solution for you.
Once we've been informed of the issues we'll need to act fast to order a search of the Council's building approval records here. Please note Brisbane City Council stipulates 10 working days to return the search results unless you pay double the usual price for a fast track search which takes three working days.
If a structure is unapproved then a buyer can attempt to negotiate with a vendor in relation to that and will generally need to organise a private building certifier to have the structure approved. More information about building certifiers can be found here.
Information for Real Estate Agents on Brisbane Property Sales
Brisbane City council has an excellent page for real estate agents who can find all the necessary information on the property they're marketing for sale here.
Real estate agents benefit from using these various searches because they can they provide verified information in their marketing campaigns which protects them from liability of using inaccurate data and benefits the seller.
Got questions about buying property in Brisbane or need expert advice?
Contact us today for a free 60 minute consultation using the form in the footer.
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