When you settle a property, you are effectively transferring its ownership from the seller to the buyer. The process begins when the sale contract is signed and officially concludes on settlement day.
Although typically your settlement agent, conveyancer or lawyer will handle the process for you, it’s important that you understand what’s going on.
Here are the five stages.
Select the settlement date
The day settlement takes place is normally decided upon in advance and is outlined in the contract. Oftentimes, settlement can take place a while after the sale becomes unconditional.
In the event the sale is unconditional to begin with, like through an auction, the settlement could happen sooner. On the settlement date, the buyer officially transfers the funds to the seller.
In general, your settlement agent, conveyancer or lawyer will take care of the settlement and it’s not something that you will attend in person.
During this period, the seller might be required to produce certain documents or records to fairly distribute costs for things like rates or water usage. At the same time, the buyer should be working with their mortgage broker to ensure they have everything in place to purchase the property on the correct date.
In the week prior to settlement, the buyer can normally go through the property and make sure the condition hasn’t changed since they signed the contract.
You will want to check for any new damage that might have occurred, that all the appliances and fixtures are in good working order and that the rubbish has been removed. If there are any problems, have your representative talk to the seller or their team.
The final payment that the buyer will need to make is calculated prior to settlement. This payment takes into consideration all the financial factors that might be involved such as tax implications and stamp duty, as well as concessions such as the first home grant or other government schemes.
They will also compensate either party for the bills and costs up to that date based on what has been paid.
Ownership is transferred
The final part of the process is the official transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer.
The payment from the buyer is given to the seller’s representative who provides the transfer documentation. Any third-party rights or caveats are released and the ownership details are then recorded with the official government body.
Finally, the seller receives payment from the buyer’s cash or loan account and the buyer takes possession of the property.