Property lawyers are a little like your mother; they wish you to find a home and live happily ever after but delight in pointing out flaws in the one that you have chosen.
One trainee lawyer acting for a purchaser conducted his searches against the office address of the vendor's lawyer. His principal commented that this approach was far too cautious.
During my articles in the UK, it was the usual residential conveyancing practice for the purchasers' lawyer to make written Pre-Contract Enquiries about the property to which the answer usually was "No, but the purchasers should rely on their own enquiries".
I may have been a little over zealous in my questioning on one occasion and received the following responses to two of my Pre-Contract Enquiries:
Q. Has the house ever been burgled?
A. No, not unless it was the perfect crime.
Q. How often do you inspect the plumbing?
A. At least once per day and more often during the winter.
Recently, I asked an audience of about 25 business owners two questions:
Who has experienced legal issues in property transactions?
Was I acting for you at the time?
Five people put their hand up to the first question and none to the second. A small survey but instructive.
(c) Paul Brennan is a business and property lawyer on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Both "Deals and disputes".