When it comes to purchasing property in Australia, Queensland (QLD) offers unique opportunities and challenges for buyers. There’s a critical difference that prospective property buyers from interstate need to be aware of, especially when it comes to due diligence: seller disclosure.

Currently, the lack of seller disclosure requirements in QLD emphasises the importance of the “buyer beware” principle. While QLD offers many advantages, such as its beautiful landscapes and a more relaxed lifestyle, it also places a more significant responsibility on property buyers to conduct thorough due diligence.

Knowledge is power in the world of real estate. Sellers are legally required under NSW law to declare any known faults or issues within the property being sold. Which means buyers in NSW get to see far more information about a property and can make far better buying choices with that knowledge.

However, when it comes to buying property in QLD, it’s a different story. Currently, QLD does not have the same level of seller disclosure requirements as NSW. Buyers must be prepared to take on a more significant share of the due diligence burden and be extra vigilant when inspecting properties.

Thankfully, this is all set to change in the very near future. The Queensland Government is introducing a seller disclosure system for land sales, shifting from a “buyer beware” approach to proactive seller disclosure. This change, governed by the Property Law Bill 2023 (Qld), will affect all types of property, including residential, agricultural, commercial, and industrial.

Under the new rules, before completing a sale, vendors must provide a disclosure statement and specific documents, including a title search and survey plan. This statement includes statutory warranties from the seller and information on encumbrances, zoning, environmental concerns, and more.

Sellers will not be required to provide information regarding the following:

1. The property’s history of flooding.

2. The current or historical uses of the property.

3. Pest infestations and the structural condition of the property.

4. Approvals for construction on the property (with the exception of work carried out by unlicensed individuals).

5. Restrictions imposed by zoning and planning regulations on the land’s use.

6. Any existing or potential connections to services related to the property.

It also seems that these newly imposed disclosure requirements will not be applicable to off-the-plan sales involving proposed lots on freehold land or units.

With this greater visibility, buyers will have the power to make informed decisions and also build confidence in the real estate market. Additionally, buyers will have confidence knowing that critical documents will be disclosed, and they will have a legal remedy available in case of failures to disclose, all adding up to a more transparent and honest real estate market in Queensland.

The Bill is likely to pass this year, but the rules implementing the Bill will be delayed by 6 to 12 months to permit additional consultations on the Property Law Regulations and to allow for market education.

The implementation of vendor disclosure in Queensland will no doubt strengthen buyers’ bargaining power and enhance their capacity to make informed choices, but it should be said that due diligence on the part of the buyer can never be dispensed with entirely.