Often an afterthought for those in the process of buying or selling a home, settlement agents, also known as conveyancers, are an important consideration when it comes to the logistics of the transaction.
CBD Settlements Principal and Licensee Dene Lowson outlined the three options available for buyers and sellers.
“You can do it yourself if you have the skills and knowledge, or you can appoint a lawyer or a settlement agent,” he said.
Mr Lowson said the settlement agent acted as a middleman between the buyer/seller and all other parties.
“The settlement agent is the appointed person who represents a buyer or seller to complete the settlement process once a contract has been executed and agreed between the parties,” he said.
“The settlement agent’s role is to step the client through the conditions outlined in the contract and to prepare the legal documents required to convey the property from the seller to the buyer.
“The settlement agent also works closely with your mortgage broker, bank, real estate agent, local council, Water Corporation and government agencies to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle are put together.
“On the day of settlement, once all the conditions have been met, the settlement agent arranges the transfer of the balance of purchase price and legal title transfer between the seller and buyer.”
Mr Lowson said it was important not to appoint a settlement agent based on price alone, but also factor in experience and reputation.
“For most people, buying a home is the most expensive transaction they will ever make,” he said. “It is important to know when selecting a law firm or a settlement agency, who will be doing the work for you.”
West Coast Conveyancing Managing Director Janet Hyrb said it was a common mistake to not appoint a settlement agent as soon as the contract was accepted.
“This mistake can cause the buyer or seller to lose valuable time and lose the opportunity to attend to conditions of the contract that may well be subject to time frames,” she said.
“Structural building clauses are generally written to have ‘to be completed’ within a particular time frame from acceptance of the offer. Should the buyer not complete a building inspection within the time frame, as specified in the condition, then they forfeit the opportunity to do so, and this may well cost them money in the long run.
“The obligation is on the buyer to appoint a conveyancer to carry out the very important duty of lodging the contract with the Office of State Revenue for assessment of duty payable. This lodging must be done within two months of acceptance of the offer. Late lodgements will attract penalties.”