You are selling a home. What information can we give you to assist?

We have set out some hints below, and some matters to watch at the very start, before we may see the contract but, to be honest, it just isn’t possible to distil the experience of having helped thousands of clients buy a home into a few pithy questions and answers.

Like all solicitors we will carry out a title search, make sure transfer documents are correct for signing, organise your bank (if any), attend settlement and the rest but what we do for our clients is more about:

  • helping them in advance where possible by reviewing the contract before it is signed¬. We charge a set fee for conveyancing matters and, unless we spend a huge amount of time on advising, we do not charge any extra fee for our principal reviewing a contract prior to signing, including commenting on or drafting special conditions to suit. Without meaning any disrespect to real estate agents, their forte is selling, ours is the documentation. The contract is the foundation document and the opportunity to make sure that the contract reflects the agreement and protects our client assists greatly in reducing the stress on the way to settlement.
  • helping our client over the hurdles, large or small that invariably come up during the conveyancing process. These hurdles can be thrown up by Buyers who turn out to be less than co-operative or downright dishonest, banks who are slow and/or unco-operative, building or pest inspections that turn up issues you never knew about etc, etc, etc.
  • and perhaps the most important, having an open line of communication between you and us, where you feel that you can ask us any question at any time during the transaction.

Our tips:

  • Make sure that the selling agent is using the latest version of the contract drafted by the REIQ and approved by the Queensland Law Society.
  • Do not delay instructing your solicitor until the Buyer has finance approval and a favourable building/pest inspection. With the shorter settlement times that prevail in Queensland (usually 30 days) it is critical that we establish whether there is any mortgage registered on the title. Some lenders need the whole 30 day period to get themselves organised to be able to give you clear title to hand to the Buyer on settlement. We generally don’t charge a fee if the contract is terminated because the Buyer couldn’t get a finance approval and if we have done a title search we will defer that charge to when you do successfully sell.
  • Try to make sure that the initial deposit paid by the Buyer on signing the contract is as high as possible, and is at least equal to the penalty that the Buyer would have to pay if using the cooling-off period to terminate the contract (.25% of the contract price).
  • Before you list your property for sale, have a look at the boundaries to make sure there isn’t a possible issue about boundaries. If it looks like the neighbour’s garage roof is overhanging the boundary, or the fence is shaped like dog’s hind leg, the Buyer may have a survey done and any problem with the boundary is likely to impact on the sale. You may decide its best to have your own survey done and settle any issues with the neighbour, before Buyers can inspect the property. NOTE that, since 1 November 2011, a Seller is obliged to disclose neighbour dispute matters to a Buyer.
  • Make sure that you have considered whether there is anything that is technically a “chattel”, that is something not fixed to the property, that you want to take with you but a Buyer might expect you to leave. Freestanding garden sheds and block bar-b-ques that aren’t mortared together are examples. Curtains and drapes are automatically included and are sometimes removed by Sellers because they match furniture. If there is anything like that could cause argument later, be sure to ask the agent to have the contract state clearly that you are to be entitled to take those items.
  • Dishwashers that are plumbed in are technically fixtures and will be included in the sale. If you want to take it the contract should make that clear.
  • Is there a swimming pool? If so do you have a current pool safety certificate? If not you are obliged to give the Buyer a Notice of No Pool Safety Certificate and the contract will be subject to the Buyer obtaining that certificate or being satisfied that they can obtain one. The most certain way of dealing with the issue is to have your own safety certificate, a copy of which would be given to the Buyer.