Guide to Buying Property
The purpose of this guide is to explain, in more detail, these important elements of the Northern Beaches Conveyancing Service in relation to property purchases anywhere in NSW. For those of you who are experienced house buyers, we apologise if this is familiar ground. Perhaps you will find it a useful refresher course. For those of you who are new to the process, we hope that the guide will help your understanding of the various steps involved in buying a property.
Be hard-headed and systematic. Hard-headed because buying a property is a major investment, and your decision to purchase a particular property should be carried out after a careful analysis of its advantages and disadvantages. Systematic because you will probably be looking at a number of properties and it helps if your approach, to each, is consistent. A simple checklist is a good idea. The items which it covers would include: address, owner’s name, type of property, estate agent, price, date and time of viewing, approximate size of each room, type of air-conditioning, quality of outside repair and decoration, quality of inside repair and decoration, garage/car parking, neighbourhood type, closeness of shops, transport and schools. When you narrow down the field and have a shortlist, make sure you return for a second visit and subject all your possible buys to critical scrutiny. Also when viewing properties, check everything works (i.e: Lights, Stove etc) as you will get a final chance to inspect the property again and to make sure everything is still working, just before settlement, with the agent.
Making an Offer
Estate agent’s prices are always negotiable. Whether a low offer will be acceptable will depend mainly on the state of the market and how keen the seller is to secure an early sale. If your first offer is rejected, it can always be increased.
Once your offer has been accepted, it will be on a subject to contract-basis. This means that you will not be legally bound to the purchase until contracts have been signed, dated and exchanged. In the meantime, you will phone or email Northern Beaches Conveyancing Service so that we can start the conveyancing and make contact with your lender to introduce ourselves. Your lender will (more than likely) arrange for a valuation of the property. The valuation report, although you might receive a copy of it, is for the lender’s benefit. You might wish to have an independent Valuer. At Northern Beaches Conveyancing Service we can help you if you require advice on this point.
Northern Beaches Conveyancing Service’s fact-finding mission – As soon as we have been instructed to represent you, we will contact the Sales Agent, introduce ourselves and advise them we will act for you in this legal transaction wherein the Vendor’s Legal Representative/Solicitor will be advised of our details. A Contract for legal Sale of Land will be sent to our office and we will contact you to make a suitable time to discuss the contents which will be put into “Plain Language” for you. However, you may not be able to attend our office and we will forward the contract to you with a letter explaining the contract via email.
We can also organise for a Pest Report, Building Report, Strata Report (units only), Survey Report, Geo-technical Report or Building Certificate to be obtained on your behalf. Please advise accordingly.
Before signing the Contract
Have us look at a copy of the Contract for Sale which needs to be available for inspection before a vendor offers a property for sale. It won’t cost you anything and you’ll get the right advice from the get-go. Just ask the real estate agent or Vendor to send through the Contract to yourself first cc me in so no mistakes are made – firstname.lastname@example.org. Note: You can always be gazumped unless Contracts are signed by all parties and exchanged (swapped over). Discuss with us exchanging on a 5 day cooling off period to secure the property. Do not enter into a Contract without having us peruse the Contract. First ensure your finance arrangements are in order and approved (in writing). Obtaining written approval is wise and perhaps a list of their requirements would be handy. If you have not arranged finance, we can organise our mobile lender to discuss with you the best loan to suit your needs. There are over 25 major lenders to choose from. It is strongly recommended that you carry out a building and pest inspection report by a licensed company before an exchange of Contracts. If buying a unit, it is also recommended that you obtain a Strata Inspection Report from the body corporate. We can recommend companies to carry out these services or you can ask us to organise such reports. You may also require a Survey Report and/or Building Certificate. We can discuss these with you if required.
At an auction, you are automatically bound by the Contract, so ensure you have us look at your Contract beforehand. You must also have your finance unconditionally approved and have your 10% deposit (Unless we get them to agree to 5%).
Once all above are satisfied, we will attend to the exchange of the Contracts which then becomes binding and you will be required to pay the full 10% deposit (Unless we negotiate 5%), or by way of Deposit Bond which we can organise in our office.
Once you are satisfied with the property you are purchasing, and you have an unconditional mortgage and offer and acceptance of price, then the time has come to exchange contracts on your purchase. Both you and the vendor sign separate, but identical, documents. We and the vendor’s Conveyancer/solicitor then exchange these so they end up with your signed contract and we have the vendor’s signed contract. On exchange of contracts you will have to pay the agreed deposit. This is often 10% of the agreed price but we might be able to negotiate a lower amount on your behalf (i.e 5%), Please advise if necessary.
Buying and selling at the same time
If you are involved in two transactions, you will probably wish to complete both at the same time so that you can move out (and in) on the same day. Because completion dates are fixed on exchange of contracts, this means that usually contracts also have to be exchanged on the same day. The need to achieve this synchronisation in exchange of contracts can inevitably lead to delay. This is particularly the case if a chain is involved… the longer the chain, the greater the potential both for delay and risk that one of the links in the chain may break. As a result, the period leading up to exchange of contracts can be full of tension and frustration. You can be sure that we are aware of these difficulties and will do our best to overcome them.
When contracts are exchanged, a completion date is usually fixed. This is the day on which the balance of the purchase price is paid together with adjustments for council and water rates and strata levies (if buying a unit). The property is transferred into your name and the move takes place. The date is usually 6 weeks after exchange of contracts. The date has to be acceptable to both you and the vendor and must be agreed upon prior to exchange of Contracts. In practice, where a large chain of linked sales and purchases is involved, the completion date tends to be that which is acceptable to the vendor, and everyone else in the chain. In the period between exchange of contracts and completion, we will prepare the transfer and any necessary documents, we will obtain local authority searches which contain information on the property to be found in certain registers and databases and liaise with you and the bank or building society to ensure we have the necessary funds for completion of your purchase. We will request you have Stamp Duty available & pay at settlement. Discuss with us whether you are eligible for the First Home Plus Scheme. You will need to contact your bank and sign all the necessary mortgage documentation. Make sure this is done 2 weeks after you sign the contract. You will need to arrange insurance for the property only if buying a house. This usually has to be in the name of your lender. Speak to your lender directly or contact us and we will find out for you. You will also be concentrating on practical matters: removal arrangements; asking the Post Office to redirect your mail; writing change of address cards; etc. See our Notification-Checklist with a reminder of people/organisations to contact.
Settlement figures are sent to you for perusal. Ensure the property is fully insured from the day of settlement if you have not already done so (houses only).
This is it. Settlement day. While you are tackling the task of removals or unpacking, we will be arranging settlement with all parties involved to complete your purchase. The settlement process takes approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete. I remind you that you only have 1 final inspection and I would suggest you do that the evening before settlement or the morning of settlement. You make this appointment with the sales agent. Do try to telephone us early on completion day to confirm that all is in order and that the vendor and their family or tenant are moving out. Remember that you are purchasing the property which should be in the same state of repair as it was prior to you signing the contract (subject to fair wear and tear).
REMEMBER YOU DO NOT NEED TO GO TO SETTLEMENT AS WE DO THIS FOR YOU
As soon as settlement has taken place, we will contact you and the Sales Agent immediately wherein the keys, will be released to you and you can move in. The Land Registry receive, on the day of settlement, notification of the change of ownership. It then informs the Water Board, Local Council and Valuer-General that you are now the new owner. Of course, if you were able to purchase a property without a mortage, we will send the deeds to you once received from the Land Registry.