How do you know how much time you need to allow for settlement? There are a number of variables that you will need to consider.

We take a look at what needs to happen during the settlement period and offer some helpful tips to make it work for you.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU’RE PURCHASING OFF THE PLAN?

If you are purchasing ‘Off the Plan’ then the settlement date will be out of your control. In most large scale developments, the vendor will be very strict about when they call settlement and are unlikely to allow for significant extensions of time. To ensure that you and your lawyer have time to get everything ready the Vendor will provide progress updates.

For more information, take a look at ‘When does my off the plan property settle?’ Click here to read more.

WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN BETWEEN THE SIGNING OF THE CONTRACT AND SETTLEMENT?

  1. Digital workspace set up on PEXA by your lawyer.
  2. Settlement Documentation drafted by your lawyer.
  3. You need to sign a client authorisation and have your identification verified.
  4. Finance needs to be confirmed and funds available from your lender
  5. Adjustments are prepared by your lawyer.

TOP TIPS ON CHOOSING YOUR SETTLEMENT PERIOD.

GIVE YOURSELF MORE TIME TO BE ORGANISED THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED.

Depending on the Vendor, purchasers may be able to choose their own settlement date. Think about what you need to do to be ready to move into the property. Do you need to sell your current home to have the money to purchase the new property? How long will that take? Have you thought about a removalist and when they will be available?

COMMON TRAP: If you are selling your current home then you will feel more pressure as the settlement date for your new property gets closer. This can be used against you by new purchasers who know that you need to sell and settle quickly. Give yourself time and you will remain in control of negotiations.

CHOOSE A WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY IF YOU NEED TO MOVE IN ON THE WEEKEND.

The typical settlement period is 30, 60 or 90 days, although most purchasers will choose a settlement day before a weekend so that they can use that time to move in. If you choose a Wednesday or Thursday then you still have a day or two buffer if settlement is delayed. That means you won’t have to re-book your weekend removalist which can be very stressful.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONDITIONS THAT NEED TO BE CHECKED?

If there is a Special Condition in a Contract of Sale that requires works to be completed then you will need to allow time for that to happen when choosing your settlement period.

For example if you require a fence to be painted, cracked tiles to be replaced or electrical work to be completed then break that down in terms of how long it will take to complete. The Vendor will have to do their research to find a trades person, get them to quote the job and then hire them to complete the work. This process can take a couple of weeks.

In a recent article we took a look at what purchasers should do if they want something repaired at a property before settlement. Click here to read more.

Depending on the period of construction and the date of your purchase, there can be anywhere from weeks to years to wait for the settlement of an ‘Off the Plan’ property.

Last week we had a client call who had signed a contract in 2017 and was still waiting for her property to settle. She was getting anxious because it was taking so long. What you need to remember is that not only are they building all the other apartments in the development at the same time but there are so many little pieces that need to fall into place before the property will be ready to settle.

WHAT TRIGGERS SETTLEMENT FOR AN ‘OFF THE PLAN’ PROPERTY?

Legally speaking, settlement for an off the plan property is triggered according to the ‘settlement’ or ‘settlement date’ section of the particulars in the Contract of Sale. This is typically

“within fourteen (14) days of the Vendors solicitors giving written notification of registration of the proposed Plan of Subdivision by the Registrar;” or

“within fourteen (14) days of the Vendors Solicitors giving written notification of the issuing of the Occupancy Permit”

To break it down that means that when either of the above are triggered, the Vendor will send your lawyer an email or a letter letting them know that settlement is to be held in 14 days. Everything moves very quickly from this point forward.

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING YOUR FINANCE READY

It is common that your financial situation will have changed between the signing of the Contract of Sale and the settlement date, especially if these two dates are years apart. You should be in contact with your lawyer as early as possible if you think that you may have trouble financing the purchase of the property.

We take an in depth at what happened to a client faced with this situation in this article. Click here to read more.

THE SETTLEMENT PERIOD ISN’T THE TIME TO APPLY FOR FINANCE

To be clear, the 14 day settlement window for an off the plan property IS NOT the time to re-apply for your finance. This process takes weeks from application to approval and should be started a couple of months before settlement is due. A good lawyer will keep you updated so you can time these events to occur as smoothly as possible.

As we have discussed in previous articles, the most important thing with a good conveyancing lawyer is communication. To read more about what to look for when choosing a lawyer click here.

Two of the common themes when clients complain about their past legal representation is a lack of communication and failure to understand each others expectations.

LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT A GOOD CONVEYANCING LAWYER WILL DO FOR YOU:

  1. Understand what sort of legal help you need
  2. Make it clear how you will be charged for the transaction
  3. Get involved before your sign the Contract of Sale
  4. Be proactive and practical when there is a problem
  5. Keep you informed at every stage of the settlement process

UNDERSTAND WHAT SORT OF HELP YOU NEED

First things first. In a conveyancing transaction the lawyer isn’t being paid hourly, they are likely being paid to get the whole job done. Some files are easy and some take more time. Your lawyer will have allocated a certain amount of hours they think it will take them to complete the work.

The best way to get the most from your lawyer is to understand yourself what it is you want at the beginning. Communication is key. The bigger law firms will be happy to talk to you all day…but you will pay handsomely for the privilege. Conveyancers are always under the pump so in most cases they simply don’t have the time.

GET YOUR LAWYER INVOLVED BEFORE YOUR SIGN THE CONTRACT OF SALE

A good conveyancing lawyer will be involved early. This helps the client to avoid problems before they happen. Sometimes the lawyer has no choice and is given the file AFTER the contract of sale has been signed, so it’s not always in their control.

A GOOD LAWYER WILL BE PROACTIVE WHEN THERE IS A PROBLEM

I had a call the other day from a purchaser who was with a conveyancer at the time. They were referred to me by a good friend who thought I could guide them in the right direction.

Unfortunately the bank they were borrowing from was taking too long to process their application and it didn’t look like they would be ready for settlement.

As we discussed in our article ‘What happens when settlement is delayed?’ it is very important that the purchaser is ready to settle on the date stipulated in the contract. If they don’t have their funds and documentation ready then there are real consequences that the vendor can exercise.

Anyway the purchaser was wondering if they could reschedule the settlement and was told by the conveyancer (who sounded like they were absolutely flat out) that ‘you’ll have to pay penalties until you are ready to settle’.

Whilst this is strictly true, a good lawyer would have reached out straight away to the Vendor’s representative, explained the situation and asked for a penalty free period of a couple of days to get them across the line.

Often you will find that if the vendor is not incurring any additional costs by not settling on a particular date they will be ok with a penalty free delay.

Taking the time to be practical and proactive can solve problems.

So you’ve inspected the property but there are a couple of little things that need some attention before you sign on the dotted line. Some properties just need a little bit of love and repair before settlement.

There are of course two ways you can factor repairs into your final offer for a property. You can 1) deduct the amount that you feel they are worth from the final price and fix them yourself or 2) require the vendor to fix them before settlement.

TIP: Let’s take some broken tiles in the bathroom as an example. If you are deducting an amount from your final offer to the vendor to fix them then make sure you make this clear to the real estate agent. Clear communication to the vendor will make sure that they know why your offer has changed or is slightly lower than expected.

“BUT WHAT IF THEY DON’T”

One thing that we touch on below and people don’t realise is that because conveyancing and property law to a larger extent is transactional in nature, once settlement has occurred everyone moves on very quickly.

This is why the advice of a good lawyer before you sign the Contract of Sale is so important. By structuring the Special Condition for repair correctly the Purchaser remains in control of the repairs.

Whilst it’s a blunt question, ‘but what if they don’t do it’ is actually quite easily answered. By ensuring that you reflect the cost of the repairs in the Special Condition, the Vendor can choose to not complete them at a later date, subject to them deducting that amount from the overall sales price.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE QUALITY?

You ensure quality at settlement by being specific. One of the biggest mistakes that people make trying to draft their own Special Conditions is not creating a proper legal framework for what it is meant to do.

EXAMPLE: “The Vendor will install air conditioners in the upstair bedrooms before settlement”

To avoid cooking in summer, the Purchaser would like some air conditioners installed upstairs before settlement. The Vendor keen to sell the property agrees to get them put in. Sounds good?

Sounds terrible. Who is installing the air conditioners? Which air conditioners are they installing? Are the air conditioners going to be new? Who is installing them? Does the Purchaser get to choose where they are located in the bedroom?

As you can see there plenty of questions that can arise from a poorly worded Special Condition. I know if it was me moving into that house I would want brand new air conditioners, installed where I want them by a trained professional. Not second hand air conditioners installed by a mate of the Vendors who loves renovation shows wherever they feel like it.

INSPECTION

Like a grand opera, the settlement process crescendos in the final days. Often only little bits of work happen behind the scenes to set everything up before BOOM everything comes together. The problem with only knowing if the works have been completed at settlement is that you are reducing your bargaining power significantly because you have already paid your money.

In most property transactions, the Vendor and Purchaser won’t have each others personal details which means the only way to contact them will be through their lawyer. The lawyer has already been paid at settlement and is now moving onto the next file…and you can guarantee the Vendor is not paying them extra legal fees to deal with this matter!

To ensure that your works are completed in plenty of time, schedule the final date for completion of the works a week or two before settlement. This will allow you to inspect them with the real estate agent to make sure they reflect the intentions of the parties in the Special Condition.

If you’re thinking about Special Conditions then you might also enjoy knowing exactly what you get when you purchase your property.

Click here to read more.

Not to be confused with a lovely evening spent with your partner, a sunset date is a crucial piece of information when purchasing an Off The Plan property.

Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions.

What is a Sunset Date?

The Sunset Date is the date in a Contract of Sale when the Purchaser has the right to get their deposit back if the Plan of Subdivision has not been registered. Remember that the new Plan of Subdivision for the development is the point in the construction timeline when the individual title for your property is issued.

What is a Sunset Clause?

The Sunset Clause is the part of the contract of sale where the Sunset Date is found. Often it is only a definition and you have to keep searching. For example it may be called a ‘Registration Date’ which will be defined in the definitions section of the Special Conditions. Complicated? This is where a Your Property Australia lawyer can help to guide you through the process.

Does the Sunset Date expire often?

Of course we are only speaking anecdotally but it is unusual that the sunset date lapses on a property. Let’s consider some of the reasons that this might happen. They are all to do with the actions of the Vendor, there isn’t really anything the Purchaser can do to impact this besides heading down to the construction site and telling them to hurry up!

Why do developments fail? We could write a whole series of articles on that topic. But for new purchasers the Sunset Date may expire if the Builder runs out of money or there are substantial delays in construction. To avoid these problems look at the past history of the developer and whether they have completed past projects on time.

Remember that reputation is everything in the building industry. Look at their track record and ask them whether they completed construction on time.

When do I get my deposit back?

Obviously if the property is completed on time then that money contributes to the overall purchase price at settlement. If however the Sunset Date expires then you will be able to get it back immediately following the expiration of that period.

Can I negotiate to make my Sunset Date shorter?

Quite simply no. The sunset date is the framework chosen by the Vendor to ensure that the transaction with the Purchaser has an end date to it. Otherwise you would situations where deposit would be sucked into a black hole by builders/developers who never completed their work.

The Purchaser wants to know that at some point in the future (this can be months or years depending on the contract) if the builder hasn’t completed the development then they will get their deposit back. It is highly unlikely they will bring that conclusion period forward because they will want to give themselves as long as possible.

My Contract of Sale doesn’t have a Sunset Date at all?

Remember that not every Contract of Sale needs to have a Sunset Date or Sunset Clause in it. So if you’re purchasing a property that already has an individual title you won’t need to worry. We are only talking about purchasing ‘Off the Plan’.

If however you have or are about to purchase a property ‘Off the Plan’ then you should speak to a Your Property Australia straight away! Sometimes Sunset Clauses are hidden away under different headings in the Special Conditions but if a Vendor has actually left this clause out then you haven’t been sucked into a vacuum of a never ending construction period.

If you’re reading up on Sunset Dates then there’s a good chance you might be interested in our other ‘Off the Plan’ property articles. Click here or here for Part One and Two of our most commonly asked questions about ‘Off the Plan’ property.

It’s such a simple question. When you buy a property what do you actually own? What is included in the Contract of Sale? We take a look at the most common property purchases and what is included after settlement.

Keep in mind that the below inclusions are of course subject to them being excluded in the Contract of Sale.

How do you avoid issues?

The best way to avoid issues at settlement is to discuss them during the negotiation of the property. Talk to your lawyer at Your Property Australia and include as much as possible in the Contract of Sale.

Do I get the garden furniture? What about the shed?

As a general rule of thumb, there is a section in the Contract of Sale that allows the Purchaser to list the items that they wish to be included in the purchase of the property.

Does that mean you have to list every door and tap fitting? No. If it’s attached to the land or the structure of the property then it is included with the property. So light fittings in the roof are included, but the lamp in the corner wouldn’t be.

When it comes to the outside of the property, the shed or a traditional cubby house would usually be included if it is concreted into the ground.

Buying a house

When you purchase a traditional house on a standard block of land that hasn’t been subdivided, everything on that block of land (which is reflected in the Plan of Subdivision) is transferred to your ownership at settlement.

Buying an apartment in a high rise development

When you purchase an apartment in a high rise development, there will be hundreds of other homeowners in the building. So what exactly do you own? The Plan of Subdivision will show you the actual physical property you own.

Buying a townhouse/apartment in a small development

If you have purchased in a development of 3-4 units or townhouses then chances are there isn’t the facilities of a high rise development to worry about.

Often the only ‘common property’ might be a small driveway to give everyone access to their home. Purchasers should refer to their Plan of Subdivision and pay particular attention to whether they own a carpark or it is part of the common property.

What are the 5 things that you should be doing before signing a Contract of Sale? Click here to find out!

As always give the lawyers at Your Property Australia a call to walk you through any questions.

Just as in all professions, there are good real estate agents and bad ones. The thing to remember is that they do play a crucial role in helping you to purchase a property.

Bad first impressions.

I remember when I purchased my first property and inspecting the property I wanted to buy with my mum. As soon as we got out of the car the real estate agent yelled to her ‘are you Diane?’ in an attempt to make it seem like there were more people inspecting the property.

There was never a ‘Diane’ and no one was looking at the property besides us but it was a poor attempt at making it seem more popular than it was. That experience turned us off the agent immediately.

Let’s take a look at the list

  1. Get the real estate agent working for you
  2. Understand who the real estate agent is representing
  3. Understand how real estate agents are paid
  4. Real estate agent promises are not legally binding
  5. Don’t get your real estate agent to draft your special conditions

Get the real estate agent working for you.

Find the top local agents in your area and email them with a very specific description of the property you are looking to purchase. One of the best things you can do is to include what you don’t want as well. Make it clear that you appreciate their help, but that you would like them to ‘stick to the script’ and only show you properties that fit your criteria.

Understand who the real estate agent is representing.

Often when you are starting out the property landscape seems overwhelming. There are heaps of people looking at every property you go to, agents hustling with offers and contracts and everything can seem exhausting and a blur.

How are real estate agents paid?

Remember that real estates are paid commission on the sale price of the property. Whilst it is in their best interests to get the highest price for their client, as the deal reaches its’ conclusion and the vendor and purchaser haggle over a couple of thousand dollars, this represents almost no value to the real estate agent.

Real estate agent promises are legally worthless.

Real estate agents aren’t lawyers. They can promise you the world about what will be done to the property before settlement, what will be painted or fixed or moved, but at the end of the day if it isn’t in the Contract of Sale in a well drafted Special Condition then you might as well kiss it goodbye.

Don’t let your real estate agent draft your special conditions

You wouldn’t get your lawyer to sell your property, so don’t let your real estate agent act like your lawyer. One common issue that we see is real estate agents drafting special conditions to get the deal across the line on a weekend when lawyers are typically unavailable.

This is a huge risk for a purchaser; they risk their wishes being incorrectly stated or included but ultimately legally unenforceable in the contract.

Heading to auction? Take a look at the 6 things you need to do before you start bidding! Click here to read more.

One of the most common questions we have from new clients is ‘can you tell me how much this property is going to cost me?’ It’s a fair question, but often it is not until the day before settlement when we have the final answer.

This isn’t because of any issues on the purchaser or the vendor’s side of the transaction but rather that the final figures are not calculated until a couple of days before settlement.

Adjustments are the way that we ensure that the purchaser and vendor have paid for exactly what they owe and will owe when the property is settled. Remember that council rates, water rates, land tax and owners corporation fees are not charged on the day of settlement, they are annual, half-yearly or quarterly charges.

Why is it important?

It is important that each party only pays for the time they use the property. This is where adjustments come in, we use them to ensure that the vendor pays for their time in the property and is up to date with their payments and the purchaser starts to pay what they owe as soon as they move into the property.

Let’s take a quick look at what is ‘adjusted’ at settlement. Of course not every item of adjustment will apply to your property.

  • Council Rates
  • Water Rates
  • Land Tax
  • Owners Corporation Fees
  • Rent (if the property has a residential or commercial tenant and is subject to lease)

Who prepares the adjustments?

Typically it will be the Purchaser’s responsibility to prepare the adjustments. In the case of Off the Plan property, the Vendor may prepare the adjustments because they are settling so many lots at the same time. To have multiple outside parties (purchasers) prepare them would require too much number checking. This saves time.

Why are certificates so expensive?

This is a common source of frustration and to be honest we don’t really understand it either. Certificates for council rates, water rates and owners corporation fees are expensive. Owners corporation certificates are incredibly expensive for what they tell you, but unfortunately this is not in our control. Your Property Australia simply pay for the certificates up front to get the work done and then pass on that cost to you as a disbursement.

For more information on property certificates and the information they contain please click below

Register Statement Search/Plan of Subdivision

Council Rates

Water Rates

Owners Corporation Certificates

Land Tax

This is it! You’re ready to sign your contract. If you’ve been reading the Your Property Australia website you’ll know that you should have at least already spoken to your lawyer by now. 

Your lawyer will be able to review the contract BEFORE you sign…it’s simply much easier to walk away if there are serious issues. With that in mind here are the top 5 things to do before you sign a Contract of Sale.

Inspect The Property. Properly.

Just like in Compton, a drive by is unacceptable. You have to get into that property and give it a good shake! Because once you sign that Contract of Sale, the Vendor is only obligated to keep it in the same condition as when you signed that document. 

If something is broken, faulty or you would like to have it fixed before settlement, now is the time to do a thorough inspection and find out what that is. Your Property Australia encourages our buyers to take their YPA checklist and fill in any areas that need our attention. From there we can draft a special condition which will ensure that your rights are protected.

Secure Your Finance

If you’re putting pen to paper without having your finance secured then alarm bells should be ringing. Even if you believe you have an excellent chance of securing finance the process can take weeks and even months if the banks are busy. These things take time and filling in the documents and processing that paperwork can easily absorb a couple of weeks in itself. With the average settlement time between 60 and 90 days, you will start to feel unnecessary pressure and stress when your settlement date is creeping closer and you still haven’t got approval for the money to pay for your property. 

Understand the Contract of Sale

It’s simply not good enough to just sign and hope. If you are waiting to engage a legal professional to handle your property transaction then at the bare minimum, do yourself a favour and read the Contract of Sale! Click here to read a basic guide to reading a Contract of Sale here

Understand the Vendor Statement

Take a moment to read our guide ” Reading a Vendor Statement which will give you a basic guide to looking through a crucial component of the Contract of Sale featured here. The Vendor Statement is the important information about the property that the Vendor is required by law to tell you before selling the property.

Talk to Your Property Australia.

Do you qualify for a First Home Owners Grant or a reduction in the stamp duty payable on your new property?

Click here for more information on the First Home Owners Grant

Click here for more information on the First Home Buyers stamp duty exemption, concession or reduction.

Preparing for an auction is more than stopping for a takeaway coffee on a Saturday morning! You need to be prepared. This is serious business, the most successful bidders at an auction put themselves in a position to win. That’s all you can do if you have a budget, be a confident, effective bidder who understands their position and the value of the property.

To take the stress out of auctions, the team at Your Property Australia has put together the top 6 things you need to know before bidding at auction. If you can tick off these 6 things then finish off that coffee…you’re ready to go!

  1. Contract of Sale has been reviewed
  2. Vendor Statement has been reviewed
  3. Finance has been confirmed
  4. You understand your bidding strategy
  5. You understand how buying at auction is different from a normal purchase
  6. You have an exit strategy from your current property

The lawyers at Your Property Australia have compiled a comprehensive list. Let’s take a look in more detail

Contract of Sale has been reviewed

You knew that this auction was coming up weeks in advance, so at a minimum you should have handballed the Contract of Sale onto your lawyer at Your Property Australia. With a Contract Review and phone call or email you will have piece of mind that you know what your legal rights and responsibilities are if you win the auction.

Vendor Statement has been reviewed

Do you know what you’re buying? Whilst the Contract of Sale is the framework for the legalities of the transaction, the Vendor Statement gives you plenty of important information about the property. Can you afford the Council Rates and Owners Corporation Fees? Do you own a separately titled carpark or is it common property?

Finance has been confirmed

Don’t go into the auction blind! PLEASE don’t go into the auction without knowing exactly how much you can afford to bid. You might say ‘who makes that kind of mistake?’ Well good, normal people make that mistake all the time. They go to an auction, fall in love quicker than a Netflix romantic comedy and before you know it they have signed the contract…and desperately contacting their mortgage professional to make sure they can afford it.

Don’t let that be you. Apart from the Netflix romantic comedy. They are great! Falling Inn Love…anyone?

You understand your bidding strategy

Bid first, bid last, bid often if you like, but make sure that you have a strategy. If you know that you’re getting too nervous before the auction then chances are those nerves aren’t going away on the big day. Bring someone along with you that is ‘independent’ of the purchase who can bid on your behalf and drag you away if you start bidding like wildfire!

You understand how buying at auction is different from a normal purchase

Remember that if you win an auction the expectation is that you will sign the contract and purchase the property at that price. This isn’t a time to start negotiating your position. Auction sales are also not ‘subject’ to finance, pest inspection or building inspection, they are unconditional contracts.

You have an exit strategy from your current property

Most people forget that with most settlement periods between 30-60 days, if you plan to bid seriously at an auction you should consider how you are going to move from your current property.

If it needs to be sold then you need to have that property on the market, if you are moving out then you need to give notice of your intention to move out. Time goes VERY quickly during the settlement period and having an exit strategy will give you piece of mind that your next mind will be as smooth as possible.

If you’re standing around before an auction starts or preparing for the weekend’s action, remember to take a look at ‘The 5 People You Will Meet At An Auction…And How to Beat Them!’ Click here to read more.