9 Property Contract Phrases Explained In Layman Terms

Property contracts can be hard to decipher by yourself, which is why it makes good sense to hire a conveyancer to help you navigate the path forward.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to educate yourself about the common terms that you might find in your contract of sale, so following are a dozen of the most common:

Certificate of Title

The Certificate of Title is a document that shows the location, volume and current ownership of a given property. It also shows easements, covenants, mortgages, and other third party interests in the land. Every time the property is sold to another owner, the name of the new owner is registered on the Certificate of Title.

As the owner or mortgagee of a property, you are given an official duplicate of the Certificate of Title, while the original is held at the Land Titles Office.
However, as the conveyancing process is now moving towards becoming paperless, the issuance of paper Certificates of Title is slowly phasing out and the Land Titles Office is working with most major banks to convert paper Certificates of Title to electronic Certificates of Title.

Contract of sale

A contract of sale is a legal contract that outlines the exchange of property from the seller, also known as a vendor, to the buyer. It outlines information such as the purchase price, special conditions, and finance arrangements.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the title of a property from one person to another. Where this is pursuant to a sale and purchase transaction, it involves drawing up and carrying out a written contract that includes the agreed purchase price, date of transfer, and obligations of both parties.
Conveyancing also needs to be undertaken for mere transfers where there is no ‘buyer’ or ‘seller’ per se (e.g. transfer between spouses, ex-spouses or family members without any purchase price).

Cooling off period

As a consumer, you may (subject to certain conditions being met) have the right to change your mind during the cooling off period following your agreement (via signing a written contract of sale) to purchase a property. Depending on the state or territory you’re in, the cooling off period varies and you also may be required to pay a fee to walk away from your contract during the cooling off period. For instance, in Queensland the cooling off period is five business days, and the fee is 0.25% of the purchase price.

However, there are circumstances where you may not be entitled to a cooling off period. A common example of this is where the property is bought under auction or where the buyer is a company.

Easement

An easement is the right of a person to use part of another person’s property for a specific purpose, usually for an agreed fee. It also refers to the right to prevent the property owner from using a part of their property in a particular manner.
Easements, like a right of way or utility and sewer lines access, can affect the value of a property and restrict the manner in which the property is used, so it should be duly consulted with a conveyancer.

Encumbrance

An encumbrance is a claim against a property by a party who is not the owner. It refers to any obstacle that may become known during a transfer of land, like easements, mortgages, leases, covenants and caveats.

Mortgage

If a loan borrower defaults in payment under the loan contract, the mortgage gives the creditor the legal right to sell the borrower’s property in order to reclaim the amount owing to them.

The buyer’s conveyancer should always ensure that the seller’s mortgage is discharged at settlement so the new owner does not take on the previous owner’s mortgage.

Settlement date

The settlement date is the date on which the property title is legally and officially transferred to the buyer. The balance of the purchase price and any financial adjustments and payments, like land taxes and council rates, will be made on the settlement date. Once a settlement is confirmed to have successfully occurred, the buyer may arrange with the agent to pick up the keys.

Strata title

Strata title is a form of ownership created for multi-level apartment blocks and horizontal subdivisions with shared areas like swimming pools and car parks. In other words, these properties consist of individual properties – like apartments and garages – and common areas – like driveways and gardens. When you purchase strata titled property, your conveyancer will review extra documentation such as the Owners Corporation’s Certificate in the disclosure statements, to check for potential risks such as large upcoming expenses i.e. Repainting the complex, replacing the roof, etc.

These are just some of the terms and phrases you might come across during your property transaction. If you have any questions or would like any terms explained to you, you can contact our friendly team at Think Conveyancing on 1300 932 738, or contact us online here.

5 Interview Questions To Ask Your Conveyancer

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Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your life, so it’s important that the purchasing process runs smoothly. Key to this process is your conveyancer, as they make sure the legal transfer between the seller and buyer goes off without a hitch.

To help you choose an experienced conveyancer, here are five interview questions that you should consider asking before hiring:

  1. What are your qualifications?

  2. Though this might seem obvious, many first home buyers often forget to ask this simple question.

    The qualifications of your conveyancer will differ from state to state, but all states and territories require some sort of tertiary qualification of licensed conveyancers. An example of this is an Advanced Diploma of Conveyancing. They should also commit to regular ongoing education to keep up with the dynamic property legislation landscape.

  3. Are you a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?

  4. It is important to make sure the conveyancer you’re dealing with is appropriately registered.

    As the official national body for conveyancers, the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC) makes sure that each of its members upholds certain professional, educational and ethical ideals and standards. The AIC also has local branches in each state, and these divisions provide a wide variety of services and resources to its members.

  5. Do you offer online conveyancing?

  6. Also known as electronic conveyancing or e-conveyancing, online conveyancing allows parties to log in from anywhere in the world to monitor their conveyancing transactions and share documents. Such technology allows for faster communication, not just between you and your conveyancer, but also your seller, brokers, lenders, real estate agents, and accountants.

    This is the future of the profession, which is why Think Conveyancing have invested our resources heavily in this space. Feel free to ask our friendly team how we can help you streamline your property purchase or sale with digital conveyancing tools!

  7. How much will your conveyancing services cost?

  8. The cost of conveyancing services is perhaps one of the most important questions that you should ask your conveyancer, as this will play a role in your decision-making process. You also need to be able to budget, so don’t be afraid to ask this question upfront.

    Your conveyancer’s quote may include their professional fees, search fees, and other disbursements fees like registration fees and stamp duty charges. Aside from asking for the breakdown of costs, make sure you know which services are out of scope, as they may incur extra fees.

  9. Do you have insurance protection?

  10. Professional indemnity insurance protects against claims that may arise from negligence in your conveyancer’s performance of his or her professional duties. No matter how meticulous you are in choosing your conveyancer, you cannot discount the risk that something might go wrong in your conveyancing process due to your conveyancer’s negligence.

    Having an insurance ensures that you are covered in such cases. They will be able to pay you for damages if you file a claim against them.

At Think Conveyancing, we have full insurance and accreditation Australia-wide. For more information about our services, experience or fees, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738 or contact us online here.

How Much Should A Conveyancer Cost?

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When choosing a conveyancer for your property purchase or sale, it’s always a good idea to consider their experience and reputation. That said, an important factor that could sway you from one conveyancer to another is the price.

So how much should you expect to pay for professional conveyancing, and how can you tell if you’re being ‘ripped off’?

Many conveyancers provide their services for a fixed fee (plus searches and disbursements). The amount will vary depending on the property, the conveyancer and the complexity of the transaction; when you’re requesting a quote, your conveyancer will ask for more information so they can provide more accurate estimates of the costs involved.

Depending on the conveyancer, some will charge a flat fee, while others operate under a sliding fee structure, depending on the property’s sale price. Either way, you can request a written quote in writing when you first enquire.

If you’ve been quoted an unusually high figure, this could be because there are complicated contract clauses and other issues for your conveyancer to navigate. If it is a straightforward transaction, however, and you feel the quote you’ve received is high, then you may want to shop around.

To avoid being blindsided by an unexpectedly high conveyancing bill, it’s advisable to ask for a written quote prior to engaging services. The cheapest quote is not always the best one, as it’s important to engage with a conveyancer who can provide you with the level of service you need.

When you’re evaluating quotes, also keep in mind that a number of factors that can affect conveyancing costs, such as:

  • Scope of conveyancing
  • The more services they offer, the more expensive your fees may be – but it’s all worth it when you realise that their job is to protect you in your purchase.

    One of the services that all conveyancers should offer is reviewing your contract, which enables you to know if there are any risks associated with your purchase.

    Conveyancers should also research the property, particularly the title, council rates, and land tax, to ensure that you don’t inherit any of the seller’s debts. Just as importantly, they’ll make sure there is no third party blocking you from becoming the new property owner.

    Other services that your conveyancer might offer include contacting your lender for your financing needs; advising you of your stamp duty payable and any available concessions; preparing all of your necessary transfer documentation; and lodging a Caveat – that is, registering your name as a Caveator on title to secure the property by preventing any other dealings from being registered on the title before settlement.

  • Disbursements

Disbursements are the charges incurred by your conveyancer from third party services on your behalf. While some conveyancers will provide an exact figure on their quote regarding the cost of such disbursements, some items are difficult to estimate beforehand and so a ‘cost range’ for items like property search costs and inspection fees will be offered.

Examples of disbursements include title searches, stamp duty, land tax, inspection fees, loan fees, building insurance, council rates, water rates and strata levies.

Costs like building certificates, land tax certificates, and government fees to the Environmental Protection Authority and Roads and Traffic Authority usually have fee ranges.

At Think Conveyancing, transparency and integrity are our key values. To get in contact with our friendly team today about your conveyancing needs, call us on 1300 932 738, or request a free quote online.

What Does A Conveyancer Actually Do?

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Unless you’re a lawyer with plenty of free time on your hands, you will need a professional conveyancer to handle the legalities of purchasing or selling a property. When you hand over your hard-earned money to a conveyancer, what are they actually doing for you?

In broad terms, a conveyancer is responsible for making sure you meet all the legal obligations involved in your property transaction and that your rights are protected throughout the process.

The scope of work that a conveyancer covers varies depending on the complexity of the property transaction, but the following are just some of the jobs we take care of on your behalf:

  • Documents, documents and more documents
  • One of the most important and essential responsibilities of a conveyancer is the preparation of all the documents needed in your real estate transaction.

    Your conveyancer will manage the transfer documents to ensure the property is rightfully and legally transferred to or from your name. It’s the conveyancer’s job to make sure the documents comply with legal regulations in your territory or state.

    They also conduct title and planning searches that are necessary for meeting the disclosure obligations set by your state or territory, and they might prepare other supplementary documents needed for the settlement process.

  • Contract of Sale preparation
  • If you’re selling your property, your conveyancer prepares the Contract of Sale and Vendor’s Statement and makes sure all of your special requirements and conditions are included in the final contract. If you’re buying, your conveyancer can review the contract and Vendor’s Statement for you and look for any potential errors, unusual clauses or red flags.

  • Conveyancing advice
  • Conveyancers can provide advice to sellers regarding any conditions that need to be included in the Contract of Sale. They can also advise you on other legal documents needed to complete the settlement, to avoid misunderstandings and delays.

    Buyers can also use the services of a conveyancer in interpreting the terms and conditions stated in the Contract of Sale, along with the other searches they are running. Having your conveyancer read and explain this information before you commit to the purchase protects you from potentially expensive risks, such as buying a house with an illegal extension.

    Conveyancers who are also solicitors , such as the team here at Think Conveyancing, may also be able to provide further guidance on issues such as the estate planning and tax impacts of buying or selling property.

  • Finance transactions
  • It is not the conveyancer’s job to tinker with your direct financing arrangements, but they do play a vital role in arranging settlement with your bank. A conveyancer can facilitate the financing process by making sure your bank receives all the required details and supporting documents for settlement.

    If there are any adjustments and payments as part of the settlement, your conveyancer will calculate these amounts for you. For instance, if the vendor has already paid council rates up until December 20 and you settle the purchase on September 1, you will need to refund them the amount that covers that period (September 1 – December 20). Your conveyancer will calculate these exact amounts to make sure all payments are correct and final as of settlement date.

  • Arranges settlement

Conveyancers coordinate the ideal time for settlement for both the buyer and the seller, depending on both parties’ mutual convenience. They will also contact your bank to make sure you can pay the seller on the appointed time without any delays.

While you can expect conveyancers to take care of most of the legalities for you, remember that not all of them are created equal. You should always screen your prospective conveyancer to find one with experience, expertise and a strong reputation.

At Think Conveyancing , we are highly experienced lawyers working full time in conveyancing to ensure you receive the best level of service, advice and experience. For more information or to request a free quote , call us on 1300 932 738  and speak with one of our team members today.

How Good Conveyancers Use Building And Pest Reports To Save You Money

How Good Conveyancers Use Building And Pest Reports To Save You Money

When you’re buying a home or investment property, you may decide to get a professional building and pest inspection. These are highly recommended as they could not only prevent you from buying real estate riddled with issues, but they could also save you money.

If you have a great conveyancer on your team, they may be able to leverage the results of your building and pest report to negotiate big discounts.

How? Because these types of inspections take a deep dive into the property’s ‘unknowns’, and when there is uncertainty, there is an opportunity to negotiate.

Your ticket to significant savings

Some buyers opt out of organising these types of inspections in an effort to save money. They can cost anything from $350-$800 for both inspections, depending on the location and the size of the property.

However, we believe it’s an essential part of your due diligence, first and foremost to ensure you don’t buy a property that hides a host of issues. Moreover, a building and pest inspection report can deliver much more than just peace of mind: it can also be your ticket towards significant savings.

At Think Conveyancing, our team of legal professionals have amassed experience in using the results of building and pest inspections to negotiate savings for our clients.

The reality of real estate is that buildings often develop problems as they age. The challenge for buyers is that not all defects are easy to spot. There can be mould hidden behind walls; cracks hidden beneath paint; structural issues hidden inside cupboards; the list goes on.

There can also be a number of less serious issues identified on your building and pest report – and these can provide an opportunity for your conveyancer to negotiate on your behalf.

Points of negotiation can include:

Cracks – Cracks may occur in the foundation, the exterior and/or interior walls, and they are often simply the result of a building settling over time. Many cracks are minor and can be easily repaired, while others are more expensive to fix. If the property you want to buy has evidence of cracking, have your inspector advise you on how much it is likely to cost to fix.

Water leaks – Issues like leaking taps and poorly joined pipes are not a big issue on their own, but they can lead to much bigger and more expensive problems. Building inspectors can use specialised equipment to look for leaks and water damage in hidden areas.

Termite damage – Certified building and pest inspectors can identify costly problems such as termite activity and past termite damage. This is important, as termite damage may not be easily identifiable or even visible. Even the word termite is enough to cause property owners stress, but if you catch them early enough, this can be an easily treatable problem.

If you find evidence of any of the above issues – or other complaints, like faulty wiring or structural risks – through your building and pest report, you’ll have to decide if you still wish to buy the property.

If you do, your conveyancer may be able to negotiate a price discount with the vendor to compensate for the cost of repairs.

In many cases, the repairs won’t cost you nearly as much as the discount you have negotiated. For instance, the cost to repair some leaky pipes might amount to $800, however your conveyancer might negotiate a saving on the purchase price of $2,000 – giving you a net profit of $1,200.

Negotiating over your building and pest inspection is just one of the myriad ways your property legal team can add value to your transaction. Our lawyers are committed to delivering exceptional customer experience and advice, so if you have any questions about the building inspection process or require more information, contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738. You can also contact us online here