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A Guide to Property Contract of Sale Review Costs (and When You Should Get One)

May, 22nd
Settled Team
Conveyancing Tips

Whether you’re a first-time Australian homebuyer, experienced in buying property, or a seller navigating the real estate market, reviewing a contract of sale is crucial before signing.

Yet with all the legal processes and jargon that come with a contract of sale, it’s okay if you’re feeling overwhelmed or confused. That’s where conveyancers come in handy, helping you review the contract to safeguard your investment in a new home.

In this article, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about a contract of sale in Australia as a prospective buyer, including whether or not you should have the contract reviewed by a legal expert (and how much it might cost you). Let’s get straight into it!

How Much Does a Contract of Sale Review Cost?

When it comes to the cost of a contract of sale review in Australia, it’s important to understand that the fees can vary depending on various factors. Typically, the cost will depend on the complexity of the transaction, the specific requirements of the property, and the location of the property. Let’s break down the typical costs involved and explore the factors that can influence the review costs:

  • Professional Fees: Hiring a professional, such as a conveyancer or a real estate lawyer, is a wise choice for a thorough contract of sale review. The fees for their services can vary, ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. You should request quotes from different professionals and compare their fees, expertise, and reputation before making a decision.
  • Property Type and Complexity: The type of property you’re dealing with can impact the review costs. A standard residential property transaction may have lower review costs compared to more complex transactions involving commercial properties, off-the-plan purchases, or properties with unique features. The intricacy of the contract and any specialised legal considerations can contribute to increased review costs.
  • Location: The location of the property can also influence the review costs. The cost in Sydney will vary from the cost in Melbourne and Queensland and so on. This is because different states or territories in Australia may have varying legal requirements and regulations.

On average, you can expect to pay between AUD 500 to AUD 1500 for a professional contract review. While it’s natural to be concerned about costs, it’s essential to view the contract of sale review as an investment rather than an expense. Think of it as a safeguard for your property interests. By investing in a thorough review, you can potentially avoid costly mistakes, identify unfavourable terms, and address any legal or financial risks before committing to the transaction. Ultimately, the cost of a review is a small price to pay for the peace of mind and protection it provides.

Understanding the Property Contract of Sale

You’ve found the perfect property that checks all your boxes, and you’re ready to take the plunge. But before you dive headfirst into the excitement of buying, let’s take a moment to understand the cornerstone of the entire process—the property contract of sale.

Simply put, a property contract of sale is a legally binding document that outlines the terms and conditions of a property transaction. It serves as the roadmap for both buyers and sellers, guiding them through the intricacies of the deal. Think of it as a crucial agreement that sets the stage for a smooth and fair transaction.

Now, what exactly goes into this document? Well, you can expect to find several key elements and terms within a typical property contract of sale. These include:

  • Purchase Price: The agreed-upon amount that the buyer will pay for the property.
  • Special Conditions: Any specific requirements or stipulations unique to the transaction, such as obtaining finance or selling another property.
  • Cooling-off Period: A period of time during which the buyer can change their mind and withdraw from the contract without incurring significant penalties.
  • Easements: Rights that others may have over the property, such as shared driveways or access to utility services.
  • Encumbrances: Any liabilities, restrictions, or claims on the property, such as mortgages or outstanding debts.
  • Inclusions and Exclusions: The items that are included or excluded from the sale, such as appliances, fixtures, or furniture.
  • Settlement Date: The date on which the property officially changes hands, and the buyer becomes the new owner.

It’s important to remember that signing a property contract of sale without a thorough review can have serious legal implications. By neglecting to understand the terms and conditions you’re agreeing to, you might inadvertently expose yourself to risks or unexpected obligations. This is why taking the time to review the contract, or seeking professional assistance, is essential.

Importance of Contract of Sale Review

Now that we understand what a property contract of sale is, let’s explore why reviewing it is so essential. Skipping the review process might seem tempting when you’re eager to seal the deal, but trust us, it’s a step you don’t want to overlook. Here’s why:

  1. Potential Risks and Pitfalls: Failing to review the contract can leave you vulnerable to unforeseen risks and pitfalls. There may be clauses or terms that don’t align with your expectations or could result in unfavourable outcomes. By carefully examining the contract, you can identify and address any red flags before they turn into major headaches down the road.
  2. Significance of Due Diligence: Buying or selling property involves a significant financial investment. It’s crucial to conduct due diligence, which means thoroughly investigating and understanding all aspects of the transaction. Reviewing the contract is a key part of due diligence as it allows you to uncover potential issues, confirm the accuracy of information, and ensure that the terms are fair and reasonable.
  3. Protecting Interests of Buyers and Sellers: The contract of sale serves as a crucial tool for protecting the interests of both buyers and sellers. Reviewing the contract allows you to assess whether the terms align with your objectives and expectations. It provides an opportunity to negotiate or include specific provisions that address your unique circumstances and requirements. Ultimately, a well-reviewed contract helps safeguard your financial and legal interests throughout the entire property transaction.

By investing time and effort into contract review, you’re taking a proactive approach to minimise risks, avoid surprises, and set yourself up for a successful property journey. Remember, it’s not just about the present moment; it’s about securing your future and ensuring peace of mind.

Clauses to Pay Attention to in a Contract of Sale

When reviewing a contract of sale, there are specific clauses and terms that require careful attention. Let’s break them down:

  • Special Conditions, Exclusions, and Inclusions: Look out for any special conditions that may impact the transaction, such as finance approval or the sale of another property. Pay attention to the list of exclusions and inclusions, which specify what items are or are not included in the sale, such as appliances or fixtures.
  • Cooling-off Period and Settlement Period: Understand the duration of the cooling-off period, during which you can change your mind and withdraw from the contract without severe penalties. Also, note the settlement period, which indicates when the property officially changes hands and you become the new owner.
  • Easements, Encumbrances, and Covenants: Take note of any easements, which are rights others may have over the property, such as shared driveways. Look for encumbrances, which are liabilities or restrictions on the property, like mortgages or outstanding debts. Additionally, pay attention to any covenants, which are legal obligations or limitations on the use of the property.
  • Zoning and Local Council Requirements: Check for information regarding the zoning of the property and any specific requirements set by the local council. This includes considerations such as land use restrictions, building permits, or compliance with development guidelines.
  • Warranty and Disclaimer Clauses: Examine the warranty clauses, which specify the guarantees provided by the seller regarding the condition of the property. Also, pay attention to disclaimer clauses, which outline any limitations on the seller’s responsibility or liability.

It’s important to remember that if you come across complex clauses or have concerns about certain terms in the contract, seeking legal advice from a conveyancer is highly recommended. Conveyancers can provide valuable guidance, help you understand the implications of these clauses, and ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Conducting Due Diligence in Property Transactions

As a potential buyer, before even signing a property contract, it’s crucial to conduct due diligence. This term may sound a bit fancy, but it simply means doing your homework and thorough research to ensure you’re making an informed decision. Let’s explore the concept of due diligence and its relevance to property transactions.

Due diligence involves investigating and verifying various aspects of the property to assess its value, condition, and potential risks. It helps you make an educated decision and avoid any unpleasant surprises down the line. Here are some key aspects of due diligence to consider:

  • Property Inspections: Hiring a professional inspector to examine the property thoroughly is vital. They will assess the structural integrity, electrical and plumbing systems, and overall condition of the property. This inspection can uncover any hidden issues or potential problems that may impact its value or your future plans.
  • Pest Inspections: Engaging a pest inspector helps identify any infestations or damage caused by pests, such as termites. Pest-related issues can be costly to rectify, so a thorough inspection can help you understand the extent of the problem and take necessary steps to address it.
  • Valuations: Obtaining a property valuation from a qualified valuer provides an independent assessment of the property’s worth. This ensures you’re paying a fair price and helps you gauge the property’s market value in relation to similar properties in the area.
  • Building Inspections: If you’re purchasing an existing property, a building inspection is essential. It examines the overall condition of the building, including the roof, walls, foundation, and other structural elements. This inspection uncovers any potential structural issues that may require repairs or renovations.

The Binding Contract and Exchange of Contracts

When it comes to buying or selling property, two important things happen: the binding contract and the exchange of contracts. These steps are crucial in making the deal official.

  1. Binding Contract: A binding contract is like a promise that both the buyer and the seller make to each other. It’s a legal agreement that sets out all the terms and conditions of the property transaction. Once both parties sign the contract, it becomes binding, meaning they have to follow through with what they agreed upon.
  2. Exchange of Contracts: This is the exciting moment when the buyer and seller exchange their signed contracts. It usually happens after negotiations and when both parties are satisfied with the terms. Each party signs their own copy of the contract and then they swap them. This exchange marks an important milestone in the property transaction process.

Timeline and Process of Contract

The timeline and process for exchanging contracts can vary, but here’s a general overview:

  1. Offer and Acceptance: The buyer makes an offer to purchase the property, including the proposed price and any conditions they want, such as a home inspection or finance approval. If the seller accepts the offer, they both move forward to the next steps.
  2. Preparation of Contracts: The contracts are prepared based on the agreed terms, including the purchase price, settlement date, and any special conditions.
  3. Review and Signing: The buyer and seller carefully review the contracts, making sure they understand and agree to all the terms. Once satisfied, they sign their respective copies of the contract.
  4. Exchange: The signed contracts are exchanged between the parties. This can be done in person or through their legal representatives. After the exchange, both parties are legally bound to the terms of the contract.

Consequences of Breaching a Binding Contract

Breaching a binding contract can have serious consequences. If one party fails to fulfil their obligations as outlined in the contract, the other party may seek legal remedies. This could include financial penalties, loss of deposit, or even court action. It’s important to take the commitments made in the contract seriously and fulfil them to avoid any legal issues.

So, when it comes to the binding contract and the exchange of contracts, they are important steps that make the property transaction official. Understanding and following through with the terms of the contract is crucial for a smooth and successful property deal.

Property Purchase Contract of Sale FAQs

What is the role of a real estate agent in a property sale?

A real estate agent acts as a mediator between the buyer and the seller. They help market the property, arrange viewings, negotiate offers, and assist in the overall sales process.

What is stamp duty, and how does it affect the sale price? Stamp duty is a state tax imposed on certain transactions, including property sales. It is calculated based on the purchase price of the property and paid by the buyer. The amount varies depending on the state or territory in Australia.

How long does the buying process typically take? Answer: The timeline for buying a property can vary, but on average, it takes around 6-8 weeks from the time an offer is accepted to the settlement date. However, this can be influenced by factors such as finance approval, property inspections, and legal processes.

What is a certificate of title, and why is it important? A certificate of title is an official document that proves ownership of a property. It provides details about the property’s boundaries, ownership history, and any registered interests or encumbrances. It is crucial for verifying ownership during a property transaction.

What is the role of a mortgage broker in the home loan process? A mortgage broker acts as an intermediary between the borrower and lenders. They help borrowers find suitable home loan options from various lenders, negotiate loan terms, and guide them through the loan application and approval process.

How much deposit is typically required when buying a property? The deposit amount can vary but is usually around 5-10% of the purchase price. It is paid by the buyer as a show of commitment and is held in a trust account until the settlement.

What is the timeframe for settlement after contracts are exchanged? The settlement timeframe is typically 30-90 days from the date of contract exchange. The specific timeframe is negotiated between the buyer and the seller and stated in the contract.

Can I buy a property through a private sale without involving an agent? Yes, private sales involve direct negotiations between the buyer and the seller without a real estate agent. It is important to seek legal advice and ensure all necessary legal documentation and processes are followed.

Let Settled Take Care of Your Property Sale

Navigating the world of property contracts and transactions can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By understanding the key aspects of a contract of sale, conducting thorough due diligence, and seeking professional advice, you can protect your interests and make informed decisions.

At Settled.com.au, we understand the importance of contract review in ensuring a smooth and successful property transaction. Our team of experts specialises in contract review and can help you navigate the intricacies of your specific situation. We have the knowledge and experience to identify potential risks, interpret complex clauses, and provide valuable insights to protect your investment.

Don’t leave your contract review to chance. Reach out to the experts at Settled.com.au for all your contract review needs. We are here to guide you through the process, provide peace of mind, and ensure that your property transaction is conducted with confidence.

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