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  • MCW Lawyers

Residential Conveyancing - buying

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Buying & Selling

There are a number of steps involved in the purchase of your property. Below is a thorough list of things to do:

The steps involved when purchasing a property

  • Confirm finance approval and obtain inspection reports (these can also be done during your cooling off period)*

  • Sign the contract

  • Exchange contracts and pay deposit which is usually 10%

  • We check the property with local government authorities

  • Sign mortgage documents

  • Settle/complete

The costs involved in purchasing a property

  • Deposit on exchange

  • Payment of stamp duty within three months of the date of exchange

  • Preliminary costs and out of pocket expenses

  • Balance of purchase price on settlement/completion

  • Adjustment of rates and levies on settlement /completion

  • Balance of our costs and disbursements on settlement/completion

The timing involved when purchasing a property

  • Up to exchange - from one day up to a week

  • Exchange to settlement - usually six weeks

  • On settlement you are the legal owner of the property and the keys are released to you

1. Signing the contract

Signing the contract with us

We will obtain a copy of the contract from the vendor's solicitor or real estate agent.

When we receive the contract we will contact you to obtain your instructions.

Review of contract

We will review the contract and provide you with a letter of advice, which can be read in conjunction with the contract and discussed with us by telephone or any queries you may have can be raised by email if this is more convenient. If you prefer you can make an appointment to go through the Contract and discuss the details of the purchase, costs involved, timing and finance. If the contract and the special conditions in the contract do not represent your needs, we will enter into negotiations with the vendor's solicitor and amend the contract.

Signing the contract with the agent

The agent has a copy of the contract which allows them to advertise the property for sale. The agent may ask you to sign this copy of the contract with them.

If you sign the contract with the agent please contact this office immediately so that we can discuss the details of your purchase with you to ensure the contract represents your needs, prior to your five business day cooling-off period expiring.

2. Confirming finance and obtaining inspection reports

We will discuss with you the importance of obtaining pre-purchase inspection reports. The more common reports are:

  • Building inspection

  • Pest inspection

  • Strata inspection (only for strata titled units, townhouses etc)

  • Survey report

  • Building Certificate from Council

Once settlement has taken place, the property is your responsibility. This includes any defects and/or problems with the property. By obtaining a pre-purchase inspection report, you may be able to negotiate with the vendor if there are any problems with the property that need rectifying or repairing. Prior to exchange of contracts, additional special conditions can be included in the contract to cover repairs and/or rectifications. Pre-purchase inspection reports can be arranged quickly and can be obtained during the cooling off period.

3. Exchange and deposit

Exchange of contracts is simply a swapping of identical contracts between you and the vendor and a payment of a deposit. The end result is that we have a contract signed by the vendor, and the vendor has a contact signed by you. Once contracts have been exchanged, both you & the vendor are locked into the contract and are bound by the terms & conditions contained in the contract, unless it is subject to a cooling off period.

On exchange the contracts are dated. This is the date which starts the contract. Therefore if the contract has a settlement time of six weeks, settlement will take place six weeks from the date of exchange. Stamp duty on the contract and transfer At this stage, we will ask you to pay your stamp duty. We will discuss any exemptions of stamp duty which may apply to you. Stamp duty is a Government duty that must be paid within three months of the date of exchange. HOWEVER, if you are obtaining finance to assist with the purchase of this property, the stamp duty must be paid on or before settlement. The vendors must sign the transfer before settlement. We must give the vendor a minimum of two weeks to sign the transfer. This ensures that we will not incur penalty interest for delayed settlement.

4. Checking the property

We make a series of searches and enquiries with Government Departments. This enables us to find out if the property is affected in any way and/or that any money might be owing on the property. The searches and enquiries will show if the property is affected in a number of ways, such as road widening, a proposal for a new school, new power lines, new road, land tax etc. If we find out there are affectations to the property prior to settlement, we may be able to take action under the contract. However, once settlement has taken place, your rights as the purchaser are less likely to protect you.

If money is owing on the property, this will allow us to ensure the debt is cleared at settlement by the Vendor.

5. Mortgage documents

If you are obtaining finance to assist you with the purchase, your financial institutions will ask you to sign mortgage documents. The quicker you sign these documents, the earlier your financial institution will be in a position to settle. A delay in signing the documents may cause a delay in your settlement.

Some financial institutions will sign you up on the mortgage documents themselves, others will either send the documents to you to sign, or will employ their own solicitor to look after the legal side of the lending . We will assist you through this process.

6. Settlement/Completion

Settlement is when the deeds (title) to the property are handed to you and the cheques for the balance of the purchase price are handed to the vendor. On settlement you become the legal owner of the property.


The keys to the property are usually available with the agent although occasionally the vendor's solicitors will hold the keys. We will ensure that the keys are made available to you immediately following settlement.

Rate adjustments

We will make the necessary adjustments for rates and taxes raised against the property. A statement will be given to you showing the adjustments made.

Notice of Sale

On settlement the following authorities will be notified of the change of ownership:

  • Local Council

  • Local Water Authority

  • Valuer General's Department

You will need to notify the following authorities:

  • Electricity

  • Gas

  • Telephone


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