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Understanding the process of buying a house in Australia

By George Hadgelias

If you’re looking to buy a house, understanding the process from start to finish before you begin your search is key to smooth sailing.

So you’ve looked everywhere to find the right place, found a potential property that suits your needs, and you are looking to put an offer to the seller.

“What’s next?” you might be thinking and “How can I get prepared?”. Here’s a brief rundown of what to expect from the process of buying a property.

Pre-contract

Before signing the contract you should obtain advice from a solicitor, as well as any other expert you require (ie. a financial adviser). This is because pre-contract is the best time for you and your solicitor to review the purchase, including:

  • Carrying out investigations, including searches, into the property to ensure that it is appropriate for your needs. This is also to ensure there are no issues with the property that could later bite you (ie. issues that may restrict the intended use, or impact on the value of the property);
  • Discussing and negotiating the aspects of the contract (ie. price, deposit, settlement date);
  • Discussing and negotiating any special conditions you may require in the contract (ie. a condition for the seller to undertake work on the property prior to settlement);
  • Obtaining advice regarding the contract, and particularly any rights or liabilities you have under the contract.
  • If you have found the perfect property, are satisfied with your investigations, have obtained expert advice, and have negotiated a deal with conditions that you are happy with, then you can go ahead and sign the contract documents.

    Contract conditions

    If the contract is subject to any conditions, you should attend to having them satisfied by the dates due for each condition. This can include ensuring your finance is approved and in order by any finance date in the contract. It can also include work to be done by the seller (ie. a condition for the seller to undertake work to the property by a set date).

Pre-settlement

In the period leading up to settlement you and your solicitor should be preparing everything for the big day. This includes:

  • Signing any bank loan documentation if you are borrowing, and ensuring the money will be available.
  • Your solicitor will also ensure the transfer documentation is in order, that any other documentation for the transaction is ready (ie. lease documents), and that all parties have agreed upon arrangements for settlement (ie. time and place).

Settlement

If everything has progressed well, hopefully this will be as uneventful as possible.

  • Essentially at settlement your solicitor (or your bank) will hand over the money to the seller in exchange for the transfer documents to the property.
  • The documents may also include release of mortgage documents, and anything else required to ensure you obtain clear title to the property.

Post-settlement

After settlement the property is yours to enjoy. Your solicitor or your bank will attend to registration of the transfer into your name shortly after settlement. Also they will attend to finalising any outstanding matters (ie. paying any rates to the local council, informing authorities that you are now the owner).

The information within this article is provided for your general interest and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. 

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