by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Solicitors, not estate agents, should prepare sales contracts. This is the view of the Gold Coast District Law Association which has called for Queensland to be brought into line with the long-established New South Wales practice whereby agents do not prepare or exchange contracts. Queensland Law Society president Megan Mahon agrees that real estate consumers “should be guided by professional legal advice at every stage”.
“The (legal) profession here would welcome this move,” writes Association president Ted Skuse in his Association’s newsletter IPSO FACTO which describes “recurring problems with agent-prepared documents”:
- Unrealistic time frames in contracts;
- Special conditions imposing duties on buyers and their solicitors to collect agents’ commissions;
- Special conditions eroding buyers’ rights.
Agents are criticised for commonly setting 14 days or less for buyers to make investigations, secure finance and obtain building/pest inspections. Unrealistic settlement dates also prejudice sellers needing to arrange mortgage releases.
“The result is that in most transactions extensions of time are needed. If the contract is unconditional the party seeking more time is wholly in the power of the other party as to whether such an extension is granted.”
“Short time frames place the parties at risk if extensions of time are not consented to,” explains Mr Skuse, who is also concerned about possible claims against solicitors.