Conveyancing for home buyers
Conveyancing involves legally transferring home ownership from the seller to buyer. It starts when your offer is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys.
Who does the conveyancing?
An SA Registered Conveyancer can conduct the conveyancing process for a client.
How do I find a conveyancer?
Avoid using the estate agent’s recommended conveyancer as it will likely be a commission based recommendation which is against the law and will cost you more.
Independent Civil Conveyancing will draw up the terms of engagement with you, setting out their charges. See our guide on conveyancing fees to give you an idea of what conveyancers include in their fees and what you should expect to pay.
We will then write to the seller’s agent and conveyancer to confirm our instructions and request a copy of the draft contract, Form One and any other details, such as the Certificate of Title.
Our legally trained conveyancing practitioners will examine the draft contract and supporting documents and raise enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer such as whether an encumbrance or mortgage will be discharged at settlement.
The buyer’s cooling off period starts the day after the buyer is served the Form One Vendor’s Disclosure Statement. The buyer then has two full business days to consider their decision. This window of opportunity is the time to consult a conveyancer about the contract.
Make an Appointment
Talk to a conveyancing practitioner about your new property contract before your cooling off period expires.
There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it. In fact, the principle of “caveat emptor” or buyer beware applies to property sales. We will do a set of legal searches to ensure there are no other factors of which you should be aware.
- Local authority searches: are there plans for an arterial road in your new back yard garden? How about any toxic emissions occurring nearby? Depending on the Local Authority, this search usually takes 1-2 weeks.
- Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry– these are the legal documents proving the seller’s ownership. Both checks are legally required in order to sell.
- Checking flood risk – this can also done at the Land Registry. If you are already getting an environmental search (see below), you might not buy this one separately as the search will contain much more thorough flood information and maps
- Water authority searches – find out how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect extensions or building works.
- Heritage listing search – to ensure there are no potential leftover historical liabilities on the property. This is a necessity.
Optional and location specific searches – sometimes extra searches are required or recommended depending on the location or type of property or due to particular concerns raised by the buyer. These could include:
- Mining searches in various parts of South Australia
- Additional Local Authority Questions such as Public Paths, Pipelines, Noise Abatement Zones, Common Land, etc
You will need to get your mortgage in place. This will include ensuring you have the financing available for a mortgage deposit. We will ask the bank for a copy of the offer and go through the conditions.
You will want to have surveys done if you suspect an encroachment on your boundary. Whether you have a survey done and what sort of survey you choose will depend on your specific circumstances. We can recommend the right survey.
Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender will require you to get Buildings Insurance for your new home. You are responsible for the property as soon as contracts have been exchanged so it is in your interests to do so.
Since receiving the draft contract from the sellers solicitor, your solicitor will have been in communication with you about what is covered. Before signing the contract your conveyancer will need to ensure:
- That all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory.
- That fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected.
- A settlement date has been agreed between the two parties, which is usually 1-4 weeks after exchange of contracts, though this can vary.
- That you have made arrangements to transfer the deposit. You may want to negotiate on the size of the deposit, which is normally 10% of the value of the property.
- Go to the property with the estate agent and the fixtures and fittings inventory list to ensure that everything you paid for is still there and the house has not been damaged in any way
Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving. This means that:
- If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit.
- the seller has to sell or you can sue them
- the seller can no longer accept another offer (you no longer need to worry about being gazumped)
Between exchange and settlement
The seller will move out (although they may leave this to the day of settlement).
You should get organised for your moving day. It is also worth considering the best day to move house to save money and ease the stress of moving.
Independent Civil Conveyancing will send you a Purchaser’s Settlement Statement showing the final figure to pay, which will need to be cleared into our Trust Account at least one day before settlement.
On settlement day
Settlement is normally set around midday on the specified date although in practice takes place when the seller’s conveyancer confirms that they have received all the money that is due. Once this happens the seller, should drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection. You can then move in.
Independent Civil Conveyancing will tie up some loose ends:Pay Stamp Duty, LTO Fees, Emergency Services Levy and Land Tax on your behalf.
- You will receive your Confirmation of Registration about 21 days after settlement after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry
- Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, who will hold them until you pay your loan off
- Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold
- Give you a bill for their payment
- You will want to collect together all your paperwork from the purchase of your new home, including the estate agent’s brochure, to file away and keep safe for when you move again. See essential documents you should keep after completion.
Whew! That’s it!
There is a lot of work and expertise involved in conveyancing. The objective is to ensure unencumbered title is passed from one party to another. Let Independent Civil Conveyancing help you achieve a seamless settlement so you can get on with life in your new home!