Buying or selling property is usually an exciting time. If you have signed a contract or if you are looking to sign up, congratulations!
This article aims to answer some general questions and give you an overview of conveyancing in Queensland. As a general rule, conveyancing in Queensland is very different to other Australian states. So if you have bought or sold interstate prior to this, watch out for the differences.
Getting Signed Up
Unlike other states in Australia, you are not required to exchange the contract. The contract will become binding on the parties once the buyer and seller have signed it. The usual process is: –
- Preparation – The agent or seller’s solicitor will prepare a draft contract.
- Review – The buyer to review the draft contract and negotiate with the seller for any changes.
- Buyer Signs – The buyer signs the draft contract and gives it to the seller. This constitutes the buyer’s offer to purchase.
- Seller Signs – The seller will accept the offer by signing and dating the contract.
- Communication of Acceptance – The seller will communicate their acceptance by sending the contract back to the buyer.
We would strongly recommend buyers and sellers to get legal advice on the terms and effect of the draft contract prior to signing. FC Lawyers can provide a pre-contract review as part of our conveyancing fees.
Usually, buyers are entitled to a 5 business day cooling off period under legislation. This begins when the buyer receives the fully signed contract back from the seller. This allows the buyer to terminate the contract for any reason. The cooling off period will not apply if the property is commercial or if the contract was formed at auction.
Importantly, if the buyer terminates under cooling-off, the seller is entitled to charge a termination penalty of 0.25% of the purchase price. The seller may only charge this if the buyer has paid the deposit. The termination penalty cannot be more than the total deposit being held by the Agent.
Conditions – “Time is of the essence”
It is usual for contract conditions to be due by 5pm on a certain date and settlement must usually take place between 9am and 4pm on the settlement date.
Unlike other states in Australia, contract conditions, like finance, building & pest inspection reports, due diligence, settlement etc., are critical dates.
The importance of ‘critical dates’ is that the obligations must be performed by the time specified; otherwise the party in default risks the other party terminating the contract and suing them for damages.
Finance is a very common critical date. Buyers are required to notify the seller whether they get finance, waive the requirement for finance or terminate the Contract, by the finance due date. If they do not, the seller is usually entitled to terminate the contract.
Once a buyer has accepted the offer of finance, they will need to sign the loan and mortgage documents as soon as possible so that the bank can get ready to settle on time.
In Queensland, a seller is not required to provide a dossier of searches and information about the property. The seller has very limited disclosure obligations. This is different to other states.
As a result, a buyer is required to undertake all searches they deem necessary to satisfy themselves of the state of affairs of the property.
When it comes to the big day, there is usually very little for buyers and sellers to do.
Prior to settlement –
- Sellers must– make sure they sign transfers well in advance and arrange for a release of any mortgage with their bank.
- Buyers must – sign all loan and mortgage documents and review all searches obtained on the property.
- Solicitors – we will arrange your settlement!
On the day of settlement (or the day before), the buyer should arrange a pre-settlement inspection with the selling agent and make sure they are happy with what they will receive at settlement. The seller should also make sure all keys are with the agent.
After settlement, the buyer can arrange with the agent to collect the keys.
Certificates of Title
After settlement, a buyer’s financier will lodge the transfer documents for registration at the Queensland Titles Office. If a buyer pays cash, their solicitors will arrange lodgement.
In Queensland, the Queensland Titles Office will issue an electronic confirmation of registration of the transfer documents. Unlike other states, a paper Certificate of Title is not automatically issued.
However, a registered owner can apply for an original Certificate of Title from the Queensland Titles Office. Should you want one, FC Lawyers can assist with this.
The process may seem complex, but FC Lawyers can simplify the process for you and guide you through the whole process. Let us help you purchase your dream home! Contact our Conveyancing and Property Law team today.