Material facts when selling a property

When selling your property there is an obligation to tell purchasers of material facts about the property. Broadly speaking a material fact is anything known by the seller about the property which might influence whether a purchaser would buy the property or not for that price.

Examples of a material fact include defects discovered by previous investigations of the property such as contamination, asbestos or structural faults. A material fact can also include where road access is limited by a neighbouring property, noise restrictions or where a serious or violent crime has been committed at the property.

The material facts about a property are not limited to just the property itself. Any information about the neighbourhood which is not immediately obvious to a purchaser and impacts the use and enjoyment of the property must also be given to a purchaser. For example, if there are development proposals or significant events like a flood or bushfire have occurred in the area.

In order for a seller to protect themselves, we recommend they tell their Agent and conveyancer, all known information about the property, openly and honestly. If you are selling your property without an Agent, the responsibility will fall to you as the seller to give this information to any purchaser.

Where a seller or Agent does not tell a purchaser of a material fact intentionally, the Agent or person selling their property as the case may be will be guilty of an offence. The penalty of being guilty of this offence being a fine which is currently up to $22,000 for each instance or potentially imprisonment.

To assist our clients and their Agents to ensure material facts are identified early in the selling process Beck Legal have developed a “Material Fact Checklist” which they complete with people selling their property and provide to Agents when supplying the Vendors Statement.

Author: Natalie Diener, Associate Solicitor, Beck Legal
This article is general in nature. The information is not and should not be considered legal advice to be relied upon. 
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