Buyers can now more easily waive the cooling-off period for residential property purchases

Property buyers face a number of different hoops to jump through to purchase property, however a reform earlier in the year will remove one of these for new buyers.

The Property Occupations Bill 2013 (QLD) was passed by the Queensland government earlier in the year and is anticipated to come into effect before the end of the year. While the document eases a number of restrictions on the conveyancing process, one of the most important changes for buyers will be around the cooling-off period.

Whilst the five business day statutory cooling off period has been retained for most residential property purchases, the process for waiving or shortening the cooling off period has been simplified. 

Under the new provisions it will no longer be necessary for a solicitor to sign off on the waiver or shortening of the cooling off period. The buyer may simply waive or shorten the period by giving written notice of this to the seller either before or after the contract is signed. This simplified process will remove the hassle from the buyer of seeking out an independent solicitor and the costs associated with that.

Other changes have the effect of increasing the number of residential property purchases that will be exempt from the requirement to provide a cooling off period. For instance, whilst the exemption from the cooling off provisions for contracts formed at auctions still remains this exemption has been widened to apply to contracts entered into by no later than five pm on the second clear business day after the property was passed in at auction if the buyer was a registered bidder. 

In addition, contracts where the buyer is a publicly listed corporation, government department or statutory body or where the buyer is purchasing three or more properties at the same time will now also be exempt and not provide for a cooling off period.

Buyers will also have fewer opportunities to terminate a contract because of slight infringements of existing legislation, thus providing greater contract security for sellers.

Whilst termination rights for infringements such as failure to include the warning statement above the signing clause in the contract will not be available, penalties for sellers and Real Estate Agents for such failures will still apply.

With the Queensland property sector undergoing large regulatory shifts, it is important to discuss these changes with a property lawyer. They will be able to advise the best way to progress with the sale and transfer of your real estate under these new conditions.

The benefits of this legislation were also acknowledged by the Queensland Law Society President Ian Brown.

“It is important for buyers to be aware of this change and be cautious when purchasing property, especially if you are unfamiliar with Queensland’s property laws,” said Mr Brown.

“We hope that buyers will always contact their solicitor before signing.”