Purchasing Your Property

In this topic, we look at the legal assistance when purchasing a new home, the six steps to making and offer, negotiations and building inspections.

The Legal Process

Even if you are fully conversant with all the steps associated with the legal process of buying a property, proper legal representation is advised. It is a time consuming and difficult job with legal procedures that can be complicated and risky. Simple misunderstandings on your part may also be costly. It’s recommended you choose a highly skilled legal practitioner that has conveyancing experience.

How can a good, quality solicitor help you?

  • They can help take the worry out of your purchase.
  • They offer practical solutions, as well as legal solutions, to problems as they arise.
  • They have a breadth and depth of legal and practical knowledge. Their experience in property means that your conveyancing transaction will be as simple as possible.
  • They can work efficiently with everyone involved in the transaction so that it runs smoothly.
  • They will show you the choices you have about the important legal decisions that you must make during the process of buying. Where there is a real decision you have to make, they will give you advice so you can make the choice that will best suit your needs.
  • They provide a full conveyancing service.
  • They carry out all the searches you need, without wasting your money or undertaking unnecessary work, and they will report to you the things you need to know.
  • They want you to understand what is happening in the conveyancing transaction.
  • They will give you straight forward advice and information on the process of buying a house, or buying land.

What work will be done for their fee?

Some of the most important steps that they undertake for you are:

  1. They are happy to check the Contract before you sign it, as part of their fee. This allows them to make sure your interests are protected, and to help you achieve the result you want.
  2. Once they receive the signed Contract, they send out explanatory letters to you, to your property consultant, and the other party’s solicitor confirming your instructions.
  3. If your Contract is subject to any conditions, they work with your property consultant, your lender and the other person’s conveyancing law firm to see that these conditions are satisfied.
  4. When buying, they undertake all the standard enquiries and searches like council and title searches (including easements and plans) and any others that may not be considered standard, where these are necessary.
  5. They also provide the extensive further information that you need, and they assist you to properly identify the property you are buying.
  6. More importantly, when they have the results of these searches they interpret them for you, and advise you if they adversely affect you in terms of the contract and in terms of what you have agreed to purchase. This is one of the major reasons to employ a competent and experienced conveyancing law firm, to help you protect your interests.
  7. If you are borrowing money for a purchase, they work with you and your lender on satisfying any requirements, that may be imposed on you, by your lender.
  8. They prepare the necessary documentation. For example the transfer, requisitions and search enquiries and they check the results of them for your benefit and protection.
  9. They keep in contact with you and your property consultant about when the matter should be completed.
  10. When you are purchasing, they keep in contact with the other person’s conveyancing law firm to finalize details, so you have the greatest possibility of moving in, when you expect to.
  11. To protect your interests on a purchase they lodge a special form called a priority notice on the title, when you are purchasing Torrens Title land. They provide your lender (if you are borrowing) with final settlement amounts, details and copies of the title and priority notice.
  12. They provide you with confirmation that everything is in order to proceed with the sale or purchase, after checking the results of all the searches and enquiries.
  13. They adjust the rates and land tax between buyers and sellers in the way that has been agreed in the contract.
  14. They attend the settlement of the conveyancing transaction with all the representatives of the other parties involved, where the cheques, title deeds, keys and mortgages are handed over.
  15. They notify your property consultant that the matter has been completed.
  16. They forward a letter to you reporting the full details of the settlement.
  17. On purchase they undertake an “after settlement” check search and provide you with a copy. This ensures that the documents have been registered in your name and all the details are correct.

The information contained under the topics “How can a good quality solicitor help you?” and “What work will be done for their fee?” is copyright material used under licence from Peter Worrall Lawyers (and Business Succession Australia {Tasmania} Pty Ltd) of 133 Macquarie Street, Hobart, and is used with their permission. Further information about conveyancing in Tasmania can be obtained on their web site at www.pwl.com.au

Making an Offer

To place yourself in the very best position to secure a property it’s imperative you’re prepared. You should ensure that you know what is a fair and reasonable price and be clear on how much you can afford.  When making an offer, dealing through a property consultant will minimise the risk involved in dealing directly with a seller.

Missing out on a property you have set your heart on is very disappointing. Quite often this happens because the offer process is misunderstood or because there is competition for the property from a number of buyers.

Steps to making an offer:

PRICE

This is the actual written price you put on a Contract, which is offered to the seller. It’s imperative that you place your very best foot forward as you may not get a second chance.

DEPOSIT

A deposit of 5% – 10% of the agreed price is recommended. However, more is always better as a good deposit can be persuasive. You also have the option to use a deposit bond. A deposit bond is similar to an insurance policy for your deposit and is secured against an existing asset such as your current home. While not used often, a deposit bond may be applicable if you are purchasing an investment property or don’t have ready access to cash.

CONDITIONS

Your Offer can be subject to a financial clause – such as bank approval or on condition of a building inspection. The less conditions you have on your Offer the more likely it is to be viewed favorably, however it is important that you protect your interests.

 SOLICITOR

If your Offer is accepted you will need the services of a solicitor and their details to give to your Consultant. Some buyers prefer to use a conveyancer who specialists in property conveyance only.

SETTLEMENT DATE

Most Contracts take 42 days to reach settlement; however you may request an alternative time frame, either shorter or longer, which may be more appealing to the seller or dovetail with the settlement and sale of your existing property.

NAME OR ENTITY

Will you be purchasing in your own name, in a company name or trust? Your solicitor and tax accountant may recommend one of these for taxation purposes.

Important factors:
  • All reasonable offers must be submitted to the seller and treated on their own merit. Similarly an unreasonable offer can be rejected on behalf of the seller.
  • The property is still on the market while the seller considers all offers. If your Offer is the first one submitted to the seller, it does not necessarily indicate that your Offer will be accepted.
  • Your Offer should not include a date by which the Offer will lapse.

Negotiations

An Offer is not legally binding on both parties until both the buyer and the seller have signed the Contract of Sale and after all alterations have been initialled and dated.

A Contract of Sale must contain details of the property, the price, the deposit and the settlement date. Once the Offer is made in writing, it is then up to the seller to decide whether to accept it or not, or to give the purchasers an opportunity to increase their original Offer.

It is important to be aware that an Offer, even if the buyer has signed it, places the seller under no obligation until the seller accepts it by signing the Contract. Of course, a written unconditional Offer, with a deposit, submitted to the seller can be very persuasive. It presents the seller with the opportunity to close immediately.

Good negotiating skills mean that you will more than likely get your price and terms. Don’t negotiate if you are afraid of losing the property. A good mindset is to remember that if this one gets away, there will always be another.

Building inspections

Building inspections are one of the best consumer protection services available. They are usually carried out by qualified builders or engineers. If you are unsure of the structural integrity of a building you are buying, you can choose to proceed with the sale but include a special clause in the contract. This gives you the opportunity to opt out of the sale should the property fail a building inspection.

It is a good idea to accompany the building inspector as they do their report so you can see any defects for yourself. The costs of a building inspection can be high, depending on how extensive the report and how fussy you are. It’s important to remember that all properties, regardless of age or quality will have a list of things that will need fixing.

Why do you need a structural building inspection?
  • To disclose property defects.
  • To ensure structural integrity.
  • To forewarn you of problems involving ground drainage, defective plumbing, substandard construction, building settlement, leakage, and general deterioration.
  • To advise what, where and how serious, or expensive the defects are.
  • To look in places you can’t go – foundations and structural framing, insulation, ventilation and roof condition to name a few.
  • To examine the building’s safety, eg. wiring and fixtures, fireplaces and chimneys, railings on staircases and decks.

In the event that a problem is found with  the property you reserve the right to ask the property consultant to reduce the price or request they fix the problems before the sale proceeds.

Your consultant will be able to further explain the use of a building clause, and provide you with sample clauses to demonstrate.

 

Download these tips and more for FREE  in the Official Petrusma Property Selling & Buying Property Guide.