6 legal steps to selling your property in Canberra

Once an offer for a property has been accepted, half a dozen critical actions lay ahead to make the deal legal.

By Steve Lowe

Once an offer for a property has been accepted, half a dozen critical actions lay ahead to make the deal legal. It normally takes around six weeks to complete a sale and this can represent a nervous wait for both buyer and seller.

Focus at this point moves away from the agent to the respective solicitors or conveyancers who represent the buyer and seller. They settle any outstanding issues on a property. The buyer’s legal team will also work with any mortgaging bank that must release funds to enable the transaction to complete.

Here’s a breakdown of the final steps in the transaction:
Contracts of Sale – This agreement cites the deposit to be paid, sale price and settlement date. It will also cover issues such as fittings that are to be included with the property. Two copies are created, one signed by the buyer, the other by the seller. Ultimately, these signed copies are exchanged between the two parties.

Vendor’s Statement – This accompanies the contracts of sale and states from the vendor any issue with the property that the buyer should be aware of. This might include any zoning issues, easements or outstanding mortgages held on the property.

Exchange of Contracts – The two contracts of sale are exchanged between the legal representatives of the buyer and seller. Those representatives may be either a solicitor or a conveyancer. On occasion, a buyer or seller individual will forgo legal assistance and represent themselves in this process.

Payment of deposit – This is made by the seller at the time of the exchange. The money is usually held by the buyer’s solicitor pending final completion. It should be placed in an interest-bearing account.

Pre-Settlement – The solicitor or conveyancer representing the buyer sets to work to ensure the property is unencumbered and all conditions in the contracts of sale have been met. They will also liaise with any bank that has agreed to hold a mortgage on the property so the correct finances are readied.

Exchange – This is the moment where funds are exchanged for the front door key: the transaction is complete! Neither buyer nor seller need be present for this moment, although it does pay to stay by the phone. Solicitors and/or conveyancers oversee this final process and will deal with any last-minute hiccups.