THE SECTION 32 STATEMENT
The Section 32 Statement and why it’s critical to get hold of it before buying land.
Being in the building industry, we interact continuously with the real estate world, and we sometimes find that buyers aren’t as well informed as they should be about things that would help them navigate the choppy waters of buying a block of land. One of these things is the Section 32.
So this blog is to introduce you to the secrets of the Section 32.
In spite of it’s official sounding name, it’s just a document, but, wow, what a document. The name comes from a legislative act that governs a lot of the Real Estate industry called the Sale of Land Act, and under section 32, the act specifies that the seller must – by penalty of law – disclose certain information to the buyer (or prospective buyer).
But this article isn’t here to provide legal advice or tell you about the specifics of each part of the Section 32. But rather, we want to explain the importance of getting hold of that document from the real estate agent as early as possible in your endeavour to buy land.
In our observation over many years, we’ve seen two negatives about the way this document is used – or not used. The first one is that the buyers don’t utilise or understand the information it contains – very useful and insightful information that we’ll discuss in a minute.
And the other one is the way agents don’t provide the documents until the very last minute, often only including it as part of the contract of sale that the buyer is waiting to sign, well after the negotiations are done and dusted … way too late.
Both are a crying shame. And let’s drill into why.
Firstly, let’s consider the main reason behind why the legislators felt it necessary to force sellers to disclose all of this information. It’s pretty easy to work it out – it’s because often there’s information that will impact the buyer in some way.
It can reveal information that could change the way the buyer can use the land. Or increase their costs of both buying or developing the land. Or even prevent them building on the land, or building what they want, where they want, when they want, how they want. And the list goes on.
The document includes a copy of the title and title plan which is where some of the gory detail is spelled out such as land covenants and easements. These covenants and easements can include things like restrictive building envelopes; powerline easements; filled sites that require massive footings; maximum quantity of bedrooms due to only being allowed a smaller septic system, or a minimum size home because of what the developer would like to see, or even a reference to yet another document called the Section 173 agreement, which has its own stuff that needs to be looked into. This is only a very small snapshot of what can be included that can dramatically affect the outcome.
The unfortunate thing is that stories abound of how real estate agents have tried to avoid or hide the crucial details just so they get the sale. We’re not here to comment on whether these stories are true or false, or to bad-mouth the industry, as we have a lot of respect for many people that operate in this space, but the very fact that the stories are there is an indication that something’s not what it should be.
Obviously you want to know about the inspiring views and the wonderful neighbourhood and that magical pear tree out the back, but we believe that every prospective buyer should also know the inside information and should insist on getting the Section 32 at the start of negotiating on land, and spend time getting a grip of the gutsy detail that’s included, even if it means asking for legal advice.
And the end of the day it will become your land so you have every right to know the ins and outs of everything about it. Think of the Section 32 like fuel in your car – you just can’t move forward without it!
Keen to find out more?
Reach out to us. We’re here to help.