When you buy or sell real estate you will most likely require the services of a solicitor or conveyancer to protect your legal and financial interests. There are a myriad of solicitors and conveyancing providers who market their services and in some cases offer extremely cheap rates for their services and often claim that they provide a "full" service even though they charge a discount rate.
Our experience and clients' tell us that caution should be taken to protect your rights and interests and that the quality of service received by you does relate to the fee you pay. You get what you pay for.
The conveyancers who offer cut price conveyancing fees can only do so by not having professional staff control your matter. Generally you will have a "junior" office clerk who will be your principal point of contact and to enable a profit to be made by the business your contact will have too many files which means you may having difficulty in contacting your conveyancer when you want to and find that messages you leave are not returned. Often you will not be kept up to date with the progress of your matter and you will waste significant time in chasing up your contact. This will cause concern and anxiety about your legal interests unnecessarily.
We offer very competitive rates for conveyancing for example for a sale or purchase for a price less than $750,000.00 our fees are $900.00 plus GST and disbursements.
Your matter will be controlled by a solicitor who will also be your principal point of contact. Contact can be by either or both telephone and/or email whichever you are most comfortable with. Often we do not need to meet with you as documents can be mailed for signing and returned the same way. We can explain the terms of a purchase contract to you by going through the contract with you over the telephone and answer any questions you may have.
We provide a personal and accessible service so that you are comfortable with the process and are completely informed at all times with the progress of your matter. As a solicitor will be your point of contact any legal or procedural questions you have will be answered immediately and you will not have to wait for a clerk to speak to their conveyancer and get back to you.
Please contact us for a full quote and we are happy to discuss the conveyancing process and requirements if you have any question.
Stages in the Conveyancing Process:
Before you or your agent can market your property by law you must have a sale contract available for prospective purchasers. For the sale contract to comply with the vendor disclosure regulations it must contain copies of current:
- Title searches and dealings
- Deposited plan or strata plan
- Zoning certificate
- Sewerage service diagram
- Home buildings insurance policy - where applicable
Each of these certificates requires a fee to be paid to the provider and generally will cost approximately $150.00 which must be paid by you in addition to the legal fees - these are the disbursements referred to earlier. Please note that in some properties these fees may be significantly higher eg. in a large strata plan with commercial space.
Usually a contract can be completed and ready within about a week of you providing your instructions.
The property is then marketed by your agent and when a buyer is found and an offer is made and accepted, then you will need to sign a copy of the contract and we attend to 'exchange' of contract at which time you and the purchaser become bound to the terms of the contract.
Typically settlement is due within 6 weeks of the date of exchange of contracts. You need to contact your bank and complete an 'Authority to Discharge the Mortgage'. Once the bank receives this they start the process to discharge your mortgage. This should be done as soon as possible after exchange of contracts as some banks take a considerable time to prepare the discharge and be in a position to attend the settlement.
We arrange and attend the settlement on your behalf. Your mortgage is usually paid out in full and any excess funds received at settlement will be received as a bank cheque payable as you direct.
There are 3 stages to a purchase transaction.
Before entering into a contract you will typically have viewed the property and perhaps made an offer to the agent which is verbally accepted by the vendor. Alternatively you will view the property pre auction with the intention of bidding at the auction.
- Terms of Contract: You need to have us review the terms of the contract to make sure these are acceptable to you and where the terms are not acceptable we will seek amendments to the contract before you sign it. In the case of an auction this is done by an exchange of correspondence between solicitors, copies of which you will provide to the agent before the auction so that if you are the successful bidder, the agreed amendments will be made to the contract before you sign it.
- Pre Contract Inquiries: In the case of buying a house we strongly recommend you obtain a building and pest report. These will provide information about the condition of the property and may impact how much you are prepared to pay - you may wish to reduce your offer or include in the terms of the contract a requirement for the vendor to undertake certain specified defect works. The costs of both reports is approximately $650.00 but varies between suppliers. In the case of an apartment we strongly recommend obtaining a strata inspection of the Owners' Corporation records. These reports cost approximately $350.00 but vary depending on the building and the size of the strata plan. The report will provide information about levies payable and whether there is any proposal by the Owner's Corporation to undertake any special levies in the future which would be payable by you. This may affect how much you are prepared to pay for the property.
- Finance Approval: Before you sign and exchange the contract you must have written 'unconditional' approval for any finance you require to purchase the property. Often banks will provide you a finance approval which is conditional upon a valuation. Until the valuation is complete and satisfactory to your bank they have the right to withdraw the finance approval. Therefore you must ensure your approval is 'unconditional' before entering into a legal obligation to purchase.
After Exchange of Contracts
Once you have agreed the terms of the contract, obtained unconditional finance approval and received any pre contract inspections which are satisfactory then you and the vendor will each sign a copy of the contract and then the solicitors formally 'exchange contracts'. This literally means that the contracts are dated and the vendor keeps the copy signed by you and we receive the copy signed by the vendor - the contracts are exchanged.
Typically the nominated settlement date is 6 weeks from the date of exchange. During this period you must ensure that your bank prepares the formal loan and mortgage documents and that you sign and return these to your bank as soon as possible. Your bank will not make loan funds available until they have all their documentation signed and in order.
We undertake on your behalf a series of inquiries of various statutory authorities eg. Office of State Revenue, Local Council and Water Rates, State Rail, Energy Australia, RTA, Department of Education, AGL. These are to ensure that there are no existing proposals that may adversely affect the property you are purchasing. The authorities each charge a fee for these inquiries and all up they total about $350.00 which is payable by you in addition to the legal fees, and pre purchase inquiries fees.
In some cases depending on the type and location of the property you may decide that some of these inquiries are not needed and you may choose to instruct us not to obtain them and take the risk of the property being affected by some proposal. We are happy to speak to you about this and discuss the extent of the potential risks.
If an inquiry shows that there is some affectation that is not disclosed by the vendor in the contract then you may have a right to get out of the contract and recover your deposit or alternatively to make a claim and reduce the purchase price by an amount that compensates you for the affectation.
Stamp duty is assessable on the contract and transfer by the State Government. The amount of duty depends on the purchase price. There is a link below to the Office of State Revenue website where there is a calculator to help you determine the stamp duty that you will have to pay.
Typically stamp duty must be paid by way of a bank cheque a couple of weeks BEFORE settlement so that the transfer can be stamped and submitted to the vendor 14 days before settlement in accordance with the terms of a standard contract.
Once all the inquiries are received and satisfactory and your bank has confirmed to us that they are ready to proceed then we organise settlement between the vendor and their bank and your bank as well. You do not attend settlement; we do that on your behalf.
Most of the work is complete now and your bank retains the title deed and transfer which, together with the mortgage, they lodge at Land and Property Management Authority (LPMA) on your behalf. The transfer, once registered, will transfer title into your name and also the bank will register the mortgage on the title. The bank retains the title deed as part of its security.
We will prepare a notice of sale which is given to your bank and this is also lodged at LPMA and will alert Council and Sydney Water that the property has been transferred to you and future rating notices will issue in your name.
FIRST HOME BUYERS
Depending on the circumstances a first home buyer may be entitled to a home buyers grant and an exemption or discount on the stamp duty that would otherwise be payable. We are happy to discuss your entitlements with you and you can view the information provided by the Office of State Revenue on line. There are a number of informative fact sheets you can view which provide all the information.