Don't misrepresent and never assume

If you’re selling a motor vehicle, trailer or motorcycle we suggest you take extreme caution when promoting the benefits or downplaying any potential faults of the goods you are trying to dispose of.

Seller beware

The old saying 'buyer beware' has taken on a new meaning in recent times. It's now more like 'seller beware' of the potential risks.

Using a motor vehicle as an example, it is wrong to assume there are no comebacks on the seller if a purchase is made privately. A seller can follow all the right procedures such as obtaining a Warrant of Fitness not more than one month old and completing the required paperwork. However, it doesn't let them off the hook if it can be proven the vehicle was misrepresented at the time of sale.

What can and has happened is the new owner can lodge a claim with the Disputes Tribunal against the seller for misrepresentation if a major fault were discovered after purchase. Sellers can argue 'buyer beware' but if an adjudicator can be convinced one of the reasons for purchasing was the way a vehicle was advertised and the way questions were answered, then the seller could end up having to buy the car back or negotiate a much reduced price.

An example may be corrosion. If the seller was to state a vehicle had surface rust which was easily repaired and backed that up verbally, they may leave themselves wide open to misrepresenting the vehicle. Yes - the seller is being honest enough to mention the rust but they should never offer an opinion on how much it may cost to repair or how bad it really is. Seemingly minor rust in areas such as around sunroofs or 'A' pillars can in fact be horrendously expensive to repair and depending on a car's age could almost write it off completely. An engine or transmission fault is the same.

Sellers can in fact say too much in an effort to appear honest but also to help make a sale. Even unintentionally misleading a buyer can be seen as no excuse.

By all means point out the fact the car is not perfect but always put the responsibility on any potential buyer to seek independent advice on repair costs. And make sure that recommendations are documented and if possible signed by both parties if a sale was to result.

When buying never assume anything

Sellers may not tell lies but they don’t always tell the whole truth either. It’s human nature when selling anything to sell the benefits only, but big ticket items do leave sellers a lot more exposed than they may realise.

Buyers cannot assume purchasing privately automatically gives them rights to asking for their money back either. In fact they shouldn’t assume anything and always take the necessary steps to seek independent and impartial advice before handing over their hard earned money.

Ending up in a Dispute Tribunal hearing should be avoided at all costs as the seller may end up the loser.

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