by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B Queensland Solicitor & Consumer Advocate firstname.lastname@example.org
In most parts of Australia real estate contracts contain an innocuous-looking “time of the essence” clause. Don’t be fooled. This dangerous clause enables sellers to “ambush” unsuspecting buyers, cancel contracts and forfeit deposits. Fail to meet a time limit, and you may be in breach of contract. By the same token, buyers also can often “dry gulch” sellers who miss a dead-line.
In a recent classic example of real estate ambush property buyers were one day late for settlement of an off-the-plan contract signed two years earlier. Needless to say the unit’s market value had risen substantially over that period. If the value had dropped the buyers would no doubt have been looking for loopholes to back out of the deal.