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Dangers to buyers in private sales

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Buyers who are purchasing property from a private seller – without the use of an agent – need to be aware of the possible risks, some of which are “considerable”, says Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International property group.
One of them is the possible non-disclosure of defects as private property sales fall outside the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act, which means sellers can include a voetstoots clause in their sale agreements.
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Once a buyer signs the offer to purchase they are accepting the property “as is” and will have little recourse against the seller for defects that may later become apparent.
There is also a greater risk of buyers losing their deposit when purchasing through a private seller. They can either be persuaded to pay it into the seller’s private bank account after which the seller can then abscond with their money, or they may forfeit their deposit in a cancelled sale, if the sales agreement is inadequate.
Everitt notes that some private sales agreements do not stipulate exactly which fittings and fixtures are included in the sale and which not. Furthermore, there is a greater risk of transaction delays.
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