A GUIDE TO YOUR REAL ESTATE PURCHASE
You have a right to have your Settlement Agent act in your best interest at all times. These rights are detailed in the Appointment to Act document and, where applicable, the Disclosure of Interest document.
You have an obligation to bring to your Conveyancer’s attention any matters that you think may affect your interests in the transaction. This is especially important where the Conveyancer prepares financial information on your behalf, which you think is incorrect, or where you intend to vary the settlement date or take early possession of the property.
It is important that you attend to any requests for signing of documents as early as possible and return the documents quickly, particularly when the time frame for settlement is short or if the mail is likely to take longer than the standard one business day.
Take prompt action concerning any Special Conditions, which you have either stipulated or may need to satisfy, in your Contract for Sale by Offer & Acceptance.
Make sure that payment of any monies, e.g. deposit or balance of deposit, is made by the date set out in the Contract.
If you plan to be away during the period leading up to settlement, make sure any necessary documents have been signed and notify your Settlement Agent of your alternate contact details. For example the Transfer of Land document must be an original copy and therefore cannot be faxed or e-mailed, where as many other authorities do not need original signatures so fax and email are ok.
If you require finance to complete the purchase, whether or not your Contract is conditional upon you accepting a loan offer from a financial institution, ensure that you take immediate steps to obtain the loan.
Attend promptly to any request by the financial institution concerned to sign documents to avoid delays in settlement.
Once you have accepted a loan offer you should contact your Settlement Agent and let them know that the loan is approved and advise the date on which you accepted the offer of finance. If your Lender is to be ready to settle on time, you will need to make an appointment to sign your Mortgage documents at least one week prior to the due settlement date. If you are dealing with a finance broker, please contact the broker who will assist you to find out from the Lender when the documents will be ready for you to sign. The Lender will advise you of any application, mortgage preparation fees or stamp duty which are payable in respect of the mortgage. The Lender’s fees and disbursements WILL NOT be included in the Settlement Statement you receive from your Settlement Agent, however they may be deducted from your loan funds at settlement, therefore increasing any balance amount that you may need to pay or have available prior to settlement.
Documentation and Settlement Statement
You Settlement Agent will send you a ‘Transfer of Land’ document for your signature/s, together with an initial Settlement Statement which will show amounts payable by you in respect of stamp duty, settlement fees and other disbursements. You should promptly sign and return the documents, together with a cheque for any funds requested. The statement will either apportion current rates and taxes or include an amount to be held in a trust account pending receipt of the relevant details. If you receive any accounts for rates from either the Water Corporation or the Local Government Authority soon after the settlement date, you should contact your Settlement Agent before making payment, as these accounts may already have been paid following settlement.
Stamp Duty Rebates
Depending on the purchase price of the property, you may qualify for a concession, rebate or exemption on the stamp duty where you reside in the property even if you are not a first home buyer. Currently this applies to property up to a value of $200,000.00. First home owners MUST be approved to receive the First Home Owners Grant to be also eligible for the First Home Owners rate of stamp duty on the contract. On purchase of an established home the threshold is a purchase price of $500,000 with concessions up to $600,000 and on vacant land it is $300,000 with concessions up to $400,000. Fact Sheets are available on the Office of State Revenue website at www.osr.wa.gov.au.
Rate & Service Enquiries
Your Settlement Agent will make enquiries on your behalf to the Water Corporation (concerning the availability of services and the current or outstanding rates), to the relevant local authority (concerning rates, building licenses issued, orders and requisitions and housing indemnity insurance details) and to the Office of State Revenue (concerning any current or outstanding land tax). Fees are payable to the authorities concerned to provide this information. Your Settlement Agent will advise you of the fee which applies in the case of your property and include it in your settlement statement. Responses to the enquiries mentioned above are not always received prior to the settlement date in the case of a short settlement time. You might, therefore, wish to make your own enquiries direct with the Water Corporation concerning availability of services (connection to water and sewerage and any building restrictions which might apply) and with the Local Government Authority concerned to ensure that there are no outstanding orders or requisitions which apply to the property.
Unless specifically requested, your Settlement Agent will not make enquiries with the Local Government Authority in relation to approved buildings on the property. In many dwellings and structures built before 1990 records are not easily obtained and further fees and extended time periods apply to obtain the same from the Local Government Authority. If you consider that a patio, shed, games room or extension of a building was possibly erected after the main dwelling was built, you should refer your query to the real estate representative who will make initial enquiries of the Seller. Where the Seller was the owner of the property at the time these structures were built they may have retained the approvals thus reducing the time money and effort required to obtain this information.
If the property is not connected to sewerage then, in certain circumstances, it may be your responsibility to connect to the sewer line either within one year of the date of settlement or within 5 years of the Water Corporation issuing a notice to you to connect to sewerage.
Under the Health Act, if the property you are purchasing is connected to a sewer and septic tanks are still on the property and have not been de-commissioned, then within sixty days of settlement, you must de-commission any septic tanks on the property.
De-commissioning is done by:
- Emptying the tank by a person licensed to do so.
- Either removing the tank, or if that is not practical, breaking up the base of the tank.
- Back-filling the tank with clean fill and compacting.
Home Indemnity Insurance
If a building license was issued after 1 February 1997 for a dwelling or for substantial improvements of a value of $12,000.00 or more, the builder (including an owner builder) must have home indemnity insurance for the work. From 1 July 2007 the $12,000 value limit was raised to $20,000. You will need details of the insurance in the event you need to make a claim for structural defects within the period of the insurance. If you believe this applies in your situation, contact your Settlement Agent so that they can attempt to obtain the necessary details.
Owner Builders are not required to take out home indemnity insurance before they can build or undertake substantial improvements, but MUST do so if they sell the property within seven years of obtaining an owner builder license from the local authority.
An owner builder IS NOT permitted to sell the property within 3 years of obtaining their owner builder license without receiving permission from the Minister of Fair Trading, through DOCEP.
Strata Title Properties
If the property you are buying is a strata title property, the Strata Titles Act states that you must receive a disclosure statement (Forms 28 & 29) either prior to, or at the time of, making your offer to purchase the property. If you have not yet received the required disclosure information, the law gives you rights to avoid the contract. Contact your Settlement Agent if you have any queries and they will refer you for legal advice if necessary.
Inspection of the property
Your Contract gives you the right to a final inspection of the property on one occasion within 5 business days before the settlement date or possession date. You should contact the real estate agent concerned and make arrangements to inspect the property to ensure that it is in the same state and condition as it was when you made your offer to purchase. If your contract has a condition which states that certain items are to be in working order at settlement or if it states that repairs are to be carried out by the Seller, you will need to check that these have been attended to satisfactorily and that the items mentioned are in fact working.
You Settlement Agent will notify you once settlement has taken place, at which time you should contact the real estate agent concerned to arrange to collect the keys and any other security devices to the property. If the property is the Seller’s normal place of residence, the Seller is entitled to stay in possession, i.e. occupy the property, until 12.00 noon on the day following settlement. That provision is intended to allow adequate time for the Seller to vacate the property.
If a Mortgage is to be registered on the property by your Lender, the Certificate of Title will be held by the Lender as security for the loan. If you are paying “cash” for the property, we will forward the Certificate of Title to you by registered mail once it has issued back from Landgate. We recommend that you make arrangements for safe keeping of the Certificate of Title since it can be difficult and expensive to replace. You might, for example wish to make arrangements for the Title to be held in a safe custody packet with your Bank.
Safety Switches (RCD’S)
New legislation has passed and comes into effect on 9 August 2009 by the State Government to enforce owners and landlords to install a minimum of two safety switches to each residential property if one or both are not in existence.
Safety switches became mandatory in new houses after 1990. Since 2000 this was expanded in WA to require at least two for each new house.