Navigating the Conveyancing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

For most people, there’s no transaction you will make that comes with higher stakes than buying a home. Particularly if…

For most people, there’s no transaction you will make that comes with higher stakes than buying a home. Particularly if it’s your first. We all have a general idea of what buying a home entails but very few of us are truly exposed to the nuances of the process until it’s our turn to do it. One of the key elements of home buying is the conveyancing process. This is the role that a conveyancing solicitor plays in helping you to buy a home. In this blog, you’ll see the conveyancing process explained in step-by-step detail.

Introduction to Conveyancing

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a name for the legal process of transferring ownership of property from an old owner to a new owner. The conveyancing process is complex. The steps involved include reviewing legal documents, conducting due diligence such as property searches, and generally ensuring a smooth property purchase for everyone. Conveyancing solicitors ensure that you understand the conveyancing process and help you navigate all legal aspects involved in the sale.

Preparing for the Conveyancing Process

Instructing a conveyancer

Step zero in the conveyancing process is to find a qualified conveyancing solicitor. You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a good one. So don’t be afraid to look around to ensure you’re getting the best service at the best price – your property transaction depends on it! Your chosen conveyancer will play a key role in guiding you through the legal process, managing legal documents, and ensuring that the property purchase proceeds smoothly.

Understanding legal documents

One of the main roles of a buyer’s/seller’s conveyancer is to help you understand all of the various legal documents involved in buying or selling a property. These include the contract of sale, transfer documents, and other important paperwork. Familiarising yourself with these documents early on can help prevent any surprises down the track and ensure a smooth property transaction.

The Conveyancing Process

Step 1: Making an Offer

Once you’ve found a home you want to buy, you’ll need to make an offer to the seller. In order to make an acceptable offer for all parties involved, it helps to understand the property’s market value. A real estate agent can help with this and a conveyancer will give you a better picture of the overall purchase price once stamp duty and legal fees have been accounted for.

Step 2: Negotiating the Purchase Price

Once you’ve submitted your offer, you may receive a counteroffer. This is all part of the buying or selling process and a conveyancer will guide you through this as well.

Negotiation Tactics

Ask your experienced conveyancer about the different negotiation strategies available to you. Getting great advice at this stage more than offsets the conveyancer cost, as this can save you many thousands of dollars in the long run. Be reasonable and clear about your own limits and priorities here. You can add incentives to your offer such as a flexible settlement date or waiving minor contingencies, to make your offer more attractive.

Finalising the Agreement

Once you’ve reached an agreed sale price, you can get final finance approval and the buyer’s conveyancer can ensure all the negotiated terms are clearly outlined in the sale contract.

Step 3: Conducting Due Diligence

After agreeing on the purchase price, the next phase of the conveyancing process is to conduct a number of essential property searches such as local authority, environmental, and water searches to uncover any potential issues. Your conveyancer will review any relevant vendor’s statement and check the contract of sale for any legal issues, covenants, or restrictions. They’ll also help with conducting property searches and property inspections.

Step 4: Reviewing Legal Documents

After conducting due diligence, the next step in the conveyancing process is to thoroughly review all legal documents. Your conveyancing solicitor will scrutinise the contract of sale making sure all the terms and conditions are in tip-top shape. Your conveyancer will also review any related documents, such as title documents and the vendor’s statement to confirm their accuracy and check for any previously disclosed information.

Step 5: Exchange of Contracts

Now that you’ve made it past the first few steps in the conveyancing process, the next step is the signing of contracts. This is a critical point both the buyer and the seller sign identical contracts, making the sale legally binding. At this stage, the buyer pays a deposit, which is typically around 5% – 10% of the purchase price. Your conveyancer will ensure that all conditions are met for the initial deposit and that the contract of sale accurately reflects the agreed terms.

Step 6: Cooling-Off Period

After both parties sign and exchange contracts, there is typically a cooling-off period unless you have purchased at auction. This gives everyone time to breathe and specifically allows the buyer to reconsider their purchase and, if necessary, rescind the contract. During this time, the buyer can cancel the contract with a minimal financial penalty. This period helps to make sure that the buyer is completely satisfied with the terms of the property transaction.

The Legal Process

Step 7: Transfer of Property Title

Once contracts have been signed, your conveyancer will prepare a transfer document to officially transfer the property title from the seller to you. This document also registers the change of ownership with the land titles office. Your conveyancer will help you to calculate exactly how much stamp duty you need to pay.

Step 8: Outgoing Mortgagee

As part of the property conveyancing process, your conveyancer acting in a sale will contact the vendor’s mortgagee to obtain a pay-out figure for any outstanding debts on the property. This figure represents the amount needed to discharge the seller’s mortgage. Basically, this just makes sure that the property can be transferred without obstruction. Your conveyancer will coordinate with the seller’s solicitor and the mortgagee to ensure that all financial obligations are settled.

Step 9: Adjustments

Before finalising the settlement, your conveyancer will make any necessary adjustments for various expenses such as council rates, water rates, and land tax and any body corporate fees. These adjustments ensure that you only pay for these costs from the settlement date onwards. The conveyancer will calculate the pro-rata amounts for these expenses and adjust the final settlement amount accordingly. This ensures that both parties only pay for their share of the costs up to and from the date of settlement, ensuring a fair distribution of expenses related to the property transaction.

Step 11: Settlement

On the settlement date, you’ll pay the balance of the purchase price, adjusted for any prorated expenses like council rates and the aforementioned land tax and any body corporate fees. Your conveyancer will take the reins on this part of the settlement process, coordinating with the seller’s conveyancer and financial institution to ensure all funds are transferred correctly. The seller will provide a discharge of mortgage, officially transferring ownership of the property to you and the transfer n your name will be registered. Here’s the good news – this marks the completion of the conveyancing process and the property is now legally yours!

Having someone in your corner who understands property law and the many different legal aspects of real estate transactions is a vital resource. We hope that seeing the conveyancing process explained like this adds some clarity around what to expect when you go to buy a home.

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