Your guide to selling a property

Selling your property is an exciting milestone, so you’ll want to make sure the process is as smooth as possible.

This includes engaging a property lawyer who you cannot only trust but one who have the legal knowledge to protect your best interests.

Do I need a property lawyer or a conveyancer?

The truth is, you can engage either as conveyancing can be done by either a lawyer or a conveyancer. However, we recommend choosing a property lawyer. Here’s why.

Generally, a conveyancer has knowledge of only one area of law (i.e. property law). They are not qualified solicitors.

Property lawyers on the other hand, are not only experts in property law, but can advise clients on other areas that may relate to a conveyance (e.g. tax implications of a property transaction or how the sale of a house might impact their client’s divorce proceedings).

Also, the more complex a transaction, the more important it is to ensure any technical issues, uncertainties or problems that arise can be dealt with quickly.

What do I do first?

In Queensland, the first thing you’ll want to do is to list your property for sale with a preferred real estate agent.

You should also ask your agent to get in touch with your lawyer to determine whether your sale requires any special conditions or additional disclosures.  This is an important part of the process as the speed (and pressure) associated with negotiating your sale may leave little time to discuss changes before you are asked to sign the contract.

However, time permitting, once you’ve been provided with a contract of sale signed by the buyer or an offer, you should speak to your lawyer to discuss:

  • whether the draft contract (and any special conditions requested by the buyer) is appropriate and reasonable
  • whether you are required to disclose anything to the buyer before you sign the contract
  • your rights and obligations under the contract

Sometimes buyers might ask to include conditions to the contract e.g. obtaining finance approval for the purchase, a satisfactory building and pest report and if they can sell their existing property.

If they can’t meet these conditions, they may cancel the contract and ask for the deposit back.  You should speak to your agent about whether those conditions are appropriate or necessary for your sale before you sign the contract.

In addition to contractual conditions, your buyer might also be entitled to certain statutory ‘cooling-off’ rights.

What is a cooling-off right?

A cooling-off right usually applies to contracts for residential properties. This means that your buyer can change their mind at any stage for any reason within the 5-day period. 

If the buyer does terminate, they will be required to pay a penalty of 0.25% of the purchase price from the deposit paid.  As a result, sellers should make sure that the initial deposit paid is at least 0.25% of the purchase price.

There is no cooling-off period if you’re selling your home at auction or if the buyer waives its cooling off rights in writing.

What happens once you sign?

Once the contract is signed, your lawyer will then:

  • manage any outstanding conditions
  • address problems identified in pre-settlement inspections
  • deal with your bank to arrange a release of any mortgage
  • transfer the property title from the you to the buyer
  • handle receipt of your final payment on settlement day

Settlement

The period from when you receive a contract of sale to when the transaction is complete usually between 2-4 weeks.

Settlement is when you will receive the money from your buying, your title to the property is transferred to the buyer, and you hand over your keys.

With an experienced property lawyer, your settlement day will proceed smoothly.

If you’re looking for property law advice call James Rayner for a free initial consultation.