Disputing a real estate purchase can be a complex and challenging undertaking, as it involves a legally binding contract. It’s also important to note that the precise steps and process may vary depending on your location (state or territory) asset type, mechanism of purchase and the nature of the dispute itself. As such, this is general advice only and you should always seek professional legal advice, if a situation like this in nature arises.
An example of my checklist to follow (below), where a real estate dispute may arise:
1. Review the Contract: Check your agreement or contract. Some contracts have clauses for dispute resolution methods or even cancellation of the transaction under certain circumstances. Not all contracts will have this, but it’s worth checking.
2. Engage with & Seek to Hire a Real Estate Lawyer: This is essential if you plan to dispute a real estate purchase. A specialist real estate lawyer or a real estate law firm can help guide you through the process, provide advice, and represent you, if the dispute escalates to legal proceedings.
3. Document Everything: Ensure you keep a record of all communications, contracts, disclosures, and other relevant pieces of information. This can be helpful evidence in a case of a dispute.
4. Negotiate with the Seller: In some cases, it may be possible to resolve the dispute out of court through negotiation, between the buyer and the seller. This could be completed by direct negotiation or through mediation.
5. File a Formal Dispute: If negotiation isn’t possible or doesn’t resolve the issue, your lawyer will likely advise you to file a formal dispute. This could mean taking the case to a real estate board or tribunal, or going to court.
Disputing a residential real estate transaction in Australia largely depends on the State or Territory in which the property is located. Each jurisdiction has specific bodies responsible for handling real estate disputes. Typically, these bodies are government-run Civil and Administrative Tribunals or similar. Here’s a general list per State and Territory in Australia:
- New South Wales: NSW Fair Trading and NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
- Victoria: Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
- Queensland: Office of the Commissioner for Body Corporate and Community Management and Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)
- South Australia: South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT)
- Western Australia: Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety and State Administrative Tribunal (SAT)
- Tasmania: Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (CBOCS) and Magistrates Court (Civil Division)
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT)
- Northern Territory: Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT)
6. Go to Mediation or Arbitration: Some contract disputes can be settled in mediation, where a neutral third party works with both sides to reach a resolution. If the mediation does not work, then arbitration (a more formal process where a neutral third party makes a binding decision) may be next.
In any situation, it’s often crucial to act quickly if you want to dispute a real estate purchase, as there are often strict time limits on when you can raise certain issues or objections.Also remember that real estate laws and the procedures for lodging disputes can vary from state to state, and the process can be quite complex. Always engage the services of a solicitor or conveyancer to help you navigate through this process.