Avoid those property traps

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Caveat emptor: this often quoted Latin phrase means ‘‘let the buyer beware’’, and it remains one of the bedrock legal principles governing property transactions today. The simple fact is that the real estate system is weighted heavily in favour of vendors and vendors’ rights, which means buyers have to be wary, proactive and knowledgeable to protect their own interests.

More than one in 10 properties sold at auction are bought by people who saw the property for the first time that day, say estate agents. That kind of casual ‘‘she’ll be right’’ approach might be OK for impulsively buying a flat-screen TV with a retailer’s return guarantee, but it is an extremely dangerous attitude when buying property.

The best strategy for buyers is to go into any transaction well-armed, fully informed and with eyes wide open.

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