Ten Commandments of Conveyancing
Rules to Follow Buying Property
Religion and spirituality aside, judging by the vast number of followers, many Australians worship at the Church of Real Estate as they seek the holy grail of property ownership.
Like all ideologies, the way to enlightenment for the great Australian dream has its own doctrines, tenets and rules to follow. Rules, which have nothing to do with the opinions, input and dinner party conversation you will no doubt receive as soon as you mention you are in the market to buy property.
To put the situation clearly in perspective for you, we’ve put together an objective, straightforward and honest assessment with these 10 basic rules you should follow to avoid many of the traps and pitfalls of buying property.
1. Thou Shall Not Select a Conveyancer on Price Alone
As with so many services in our contemporary, connected and convenience society, conveyancing services are now being offered by a range of ‘practitioners’ in a range of packages. The objective primarily is to offer an easier and cheaper alternative to engaging qualified, professional lawyers.
It may be a modern approach but a very old adage still applies – you get what you pay for! Too often we hear the barrage of complaints from people who selected a conveyancer on price and ended up with a young, inexperienced and unqualified ‘conveyancer’ who never returned their calls, provided terrible service and left them totally in the dark, in a panic and chasing up action. Think of how much you are investing in your property and then consider whether saving a few dollars for dodgy service is really worth it.
2. Thou Shall Trust Only God to Perform Miracles
There are numerous pitfalls, conditions and issues in Queensland property contracts which require the professional expertise of a lawyer to address in relation to your specific purchase. Once you sign the contract, that’s it! These conditions cannot be edited or undone. Only God can perform miracles.
So if you sign a contract before talking to us, then you’re taking the risk of having to live with the consequences.
3. Thou Shall Not Put Total Trust in the Real Estate Agent
Keep everything in perspective and take a reality check. You’re the purchaser and the real estate agent is acting for the vendor. They will want the best for their client – not you. No doubt they will be polite, friendly and even helpful towards to you– but don’t put all your trust in them. Engage your own professional team to guide and advise you through the process.
4. Thou Shall Not Trust The Vendor
Logically following on from commandment 3, don’t take everything the vendor says as gospel. Chances are you’ve never met them before, they want the best deal for themselves and can even, quite unintentionally, tell you things which are simply untrue or at least, misleading. Trust only what you see on paper and what is told to you by your professional advisors – we, your lawyers, your financier, accountants, property surveyors and other consultants working on your behalf.
5. Thou Shall Use Your Full and Complete Name
Understand and appreciate that a Contract of Sale is a legally binding document. The name of the person on the document is the legally binding owner of the property as per the contract. That is YOU. You don’t want any misunderstandings as to who the purchaser is. On completion of the process, you definitely want the true identity of the property owner, that’s you, clearly stated on the contract. So always use your full and complete name not your nickname or shortened form of your name. Even if ‘everyone always calls me Bob’, your name is Robert, if you were born Jessica, don’t put Jessie or Jess on the contract.
Complete the Contract of Sale using your full name as it appears on your other legal documents such as your driver’s licence or passport.
6. Thou Shall Know What is and What is Not Written in the Contract
Purchasing a property can be a busy, confusing and complex process. In the many discussions you’ll have with the vendor, agent and others, people will say a lot of things. Some will be true, some speculation, some suggestions, some opinions and some simply untrue. Whatever anyone says to you, beware, if it is not written into the contract then it is not in the contract. Contracts of Sale are written documents, they don’t include hearsay, she said and he said comments.
So if you are depending on or relying on something you have been told verbally – check with us that it is written into the contract.
7. Thou Shall Approach The Bank Early
The time to arrange your mortgage finance is when you have made the decision to purchase a property NOT the day before your finance is due to be paid. He may be good, but even the strongest believers can’t put all their faith in the almighty to guarantee an extension on the finance due date.
8. Thou Shall Select Your Finance Broker Wisely
To capitalise on the massive following at the Church of Real Estate, there has been a surge in the number of mortgage brokers emerging on the scene. It seems to be the latest ‘in’ and ‘on trend’ occupation! Mortgage brokers can come from a range of backgrounds, undergo some basic training and hang out their shingle, open for business. Good for them to set themselves up in business but not good for you if they don’t really know what they’re doing!!!
If you decide to go with a broker, ensure they have the experience and expertise to do the job properly. Often we some across brokers who simply don’t seem to be able to add up, they forget to include the basics of mortgage insurance and stamp duty and even forget to submit a client’s FHOG Application. The fallout for you is you having to stump up with the cash to cover all the extras, likely at the last minute. Just when you are counting on that extra cash in the bank to cover removals and other costs involved in the process.
9. Thou Shall Be Timely in Arranging Document Witnesses
Yes, we know everyone is busy and buying a property is going to add a lot more items to your ‘to do’ list. But these are not tasks that you can ‘put off’. The process involves a certain timeframe and you need to meet deadlines or risk not being able to complete the purchase. Organising witnesses for your documents is very important and must not be left to the last minute. Witnesses may have to meet certain criteria to qualify as a witness, ie not be a relative etc. So make getting your documents witnessed an absolute priority.
10. Thou Shall Stay Around For the Duration
As a professional lawyer with decades of experience, I plead with you – please do not sign a contract to buy a property then head off overseas for a holiday with plans to return just before settlement. Or worse, after settlement. The conveyancing process is complex and can throw up a lot of unexpected issues which will require your input and possibly signature. If you’re not around, you really are creating one huge headache for everyone involved.
Next step is if you’re considering buying a property, talk to us before you sign a contract or even before you start looking at properties. We’ll discuss the process with you so you are well-prepared to avoid any pitfalls.