1. What is conveyancing?

In simple terms, conveyancing is the process of transferring the ownership of property from one party to the other.

2. Why do I need a solicitor for conveyancing?

Horses for courses. Buying a property is a big financial decision, it is best to leave the complex legal issues to the experienced solicitors who can provide you with independent advice and guidance when difficult legal issues arise.

3. When should I talk to a solicitor?

Once you have decided to buy or sell a property, engaging our services should be your first step. This will allow you to consult with us regarding any ‘special conditions’ within your proposed contract before you actually sign the contract.

4. What are the important things I need to do for buying a property?

First you will need to instruct the real estate agent to forward the contract of sale to us so that we can review the contract for you in a timely manner. If you are going to obtain finance for the purchase, organise the finance application with your financier/broker so the approval can be obtained within the due date. If you need to carry out a building & pest inspection, book the inspection with a qualified building inspector. Lastly, if you are purchasing an established freehold dwelling, you will need to contact an insurance company and obtain a cover note for the building insurance.

5. If I am not a permanent resident in Australia, am I still able to buy property in Australia?

All foreign investors are required to obtain the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) prior to being able to purchase property in Australia.

Non-resident foreign persons holding a temporary visa of less than 12 months, are generally unable to purchase established dwellings in Australia. However, if they obtain FIRB approval they are entitled to purchase ‘new’ properties.

Temporary residents who hold a visa permitting them to remain in Australia for a period of more than 12 months, are able to purchase both established and ‘new’ properties once they have obtained FIRB approval.

6. What is buying ‘off the plan’?

Buying a property ‘off the plan’ is the purchase of land or an apartment which does not yet exist other than as a proposed plan. There are a number of benefits and potential risks associated with buying a property ‘off the plan’, and as such it is necessary to consult with a solicitor when purchasing a property ‘off the plan’. At Legal Guru we are highly experienced in property purchases of this nature, and are able to provide you with all the necessary guidance to ensure that buying an ‘off the plan’ property is a smooth and simple experience.

7. Why is there a difference in the cost of conveyancing for Buying and Selling property?

There are quiet drastic differences between the processes of buying and selling property.

When purchasing a property, the process is much more complicated than that associated with selling a property. When buying a property there are a number of searches which must be undertaken to protect your legal interests. These searches not only take much more time, but also incur search fees. At Legal Guru we offer fixed price conveyancing, and as a result the time and money that we must expend when dealing with a property purchase can result in slightly higher costs. However, these searches and extra costs could end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long term.

8. Do I need to visit your office during the conveyancing process?

There is no need to come to our office personally if you have a tight working schedule or are from interstates/overseas, as we can complete the whole transaction via phone, fax and emails. If fact, at Legal Guru we have assisted many overseas buyers and investors successfully purchased their properties here in Australia.

Nonetheless, if you have the need to come in and see us, you are very welcome to drop by our office and enjoy our delicious cup of coffee.

9. What are the conditions I can put in on the contract?

We strongly recommend you to have the finance and building inspection conditions to be inserted to protect your rights as the buyer. It is best to contact your solicitor to help you draft out the complex legal clauses should you wish to have other requests under the contract.

10. What is Cooling-Off period?

In Qld, there is a statutory timeframe of 5 business days cooling-off period which allows the buyer to cancel the contract without any basis. However if you cancel the contract under the cooling-off period, you there may a termination penalty to be paid which is a percentage of the purchase price.

11. If I terminate my contract, am I able to get my deposit back?

If you terminate your contract under a condition in the contract (eg. Building & Pest or Finance) you will be entitled to receive the full amount of your deposit back. However, if you seek to terminate a contract after the contract has become ‘unconditional’ you will not be entitled to a refund of your deposit. Furthermore, the seller also has the right to sue you for losses that they have suffered due to you not completing the contract.

12. What is the difference between Joint Tenants and Tenant-in-Common?

If you are purchasing the property with another party, you can either own the property as Joint Tenants or as Tenant in Common. If you own property as joint tenants, the property is owned jointly which cannot be divided into shares. Under a joint tenant you cannot leave that property in your will. When a joint tenant dies, their ownership in the property automatically passes to the surviving joint tenants. If you are the only surviving joint tenant, you will be the sole owner of the property.

With Tenant in Common, you and the other buyers each own a defined shares in the property. Under a Tenant in Common, if one party dies the shares cannot automatically transferred to the surviving tenant without a will.

13. What is stamp duty and are there any concessions?

Stamp duty (transfer duty) is a tax levied by the State Government which under the contract is payable by the buyer. The amount of stamp duty payable is assessed based on the purchase price and whether there are any concessions that you may be entitled to claim. In Qld, concessions are available if the property to be purchase is your first home or your principal place of residence. There is no concession if the property is an investment or being purchased under a company or trust.

14. What are my obligations if I want to claim the stamp duty concession?

To be eligible for the stamp duty concession, you will need to reside in the property within 1 year from the settlement date and not rent or sale the property before moving in or within 1 year of the date you move in. For details, please refer to the Qld Office of State Revenue website.

15. What is settlement?

Settlement is the legal process which the title transfer documents are exchanged between the parties. On the settlement day, the balance of the purchase money will be paid to the seller. The seller will in turn release the mortgage (if there is one) and hands the title document to the buyer or the buyer’s financier who will register the new property title at the Titles Office.

16. What happens if either party cannot settle on the due date?

If either party is unable to settle on the due date, the first step will involve them requesting an extension of time from the other party. If the seller is unable to settle on time the buyer may request ‘early possession’, providing them with possession of the property before the actual settlement has occurred. If the buyer is unable to settle on time the seller may request that the buyer pays ‘default interest’, requiring them to pay interest on all overdue money at a daily rate from the original date of settlement to the time at which settlement occurs.