Whether you’re buying a new home, selling your existing home or investing in property, Queensland Law Practice can assist with your Brisbane residential conveyancing and commercial conveyancing needs. With 25 years’ experience acting for buyers and sellers of houses, units, townhouses and vacant land, whether homes or investment properties, we have the expertise in conveyancing law to make your conveyance run smoothly.
Our Conveyancing Services
For most of us, the purchase of a home or investment property is among the most significant financial transactions in our lifetime. Conveyancing in Queensland is often considered to be a notorious minefield, with a large number of important considerations such as transfer duty, registration fees and property searches. To add to the complexity, unlike in other states, Queensland conveyancing is conducted on the basis that time is of the essence. As a result, there are serious consequences where buyers or sellers fail to comply with their obligations which arise at various stages of the process. These may include termination of the contract, the loss of a deposit or even claims for damages. For this reason, it is essential that parties to a conveyance are guided through this minefield by a firm who knows the ins and outs of conveyancing law, understand the inquiries, obligations and consequences involved.
In a marketplace characterised by stripped-down operations who try to achieve the cheapest price by offering only the bare minimum, Queensland Law Practice is able to draw upon its quarter-century of experience in conveyancing in inner-western Brisbane along with its policy of having each conveyance conducted by, or under the supervision of a solicitor versed in the issues which are likely to arise. We also offer a wide range of searches which we can conduct on your behalf to ensure that you are as informed as you can possibly be. It is in this way that we have been able to provide our clients with the peace of mind that one of our solicitors will always have the expertise to deal with whatever situation may arise between the signing of the contract and settlement.
As part of our commitment to guiding you through the conveyancing process, we are able to provide separate pre-contractual advice with respect to un-signed contracts of sale or even organise a meeting whereby we can draw up a contract which suits your needs and protects your interests.
Conveyancing Fees QLD
Our conveyancing offering provides you with service, simplicity and the peace of mind that comes with 25 years of experience with Queensland conveyancing — at a competitive price.
Conveyancing in Queensland is a complicated process with many variables and options available to purchases and sellers of property. As such, conveyancing fees can fluctuate wildly between different service providers, as each ‘quoted price’ may include a vastly different range of inclusions, add-ons and additional fees. For simplicity, Queensland Law Practice charge a fixed professional fee for each type of conveyance. In addition to this fixed fee, you only need to pay for the searches and outlays you ask us to incur on your behalf. What you pay for will largely depend on how many, and which types, of searches you instruct us to order. $200 is typical for a sale, while $400 plus is typical for a purchase which you can see here in the Conveyancing search fees.
Top 10 Biggest Mistakes in Brisbane Conveyancing
Having dealt with every imaginable type of conveyance over more than 25 years in the Brisbane area, it is safe to say that when it comes to conveyancing, ‘we’ve seen it all’. Whether it be residential conveyancing or commercial conveyancing, below is a list of the biggest mistakes we see clients run into in Queensland conveyancing. By taking note of these before you start the conveyancing process, you’ll be taking a big step towards ensuring that the entire process runs smoothly, so please read carefully!
1. When it comes to finance, leave nothing to the last minute
This is without doubt the most common, and most stressful issue buyers run into during the conveyancing process. It is highly recommended that all buyers speak to a broker or bank before entering into a contract to get an idea about borrowing power, the documentation you will need to provide whilst having regard to your own personal set of circumstances and timeframes. It is also wise to investigate the possibility of a pre-approved finance.
While getting in touch with a broker right away is important, it doesn’t end there. Most contracts which are subject to finance set a date, known as the Finance Date. This is the date of which you must advise the seller whether you have obtained finance (or terminate the contract if you are unable to do so). As a result, it is important to provide any requested documentation to your bank or broker and to complete any requested paperwork straight away. Banks can be very slow when it comes to assessing finance applications and often aren’t as fussed about your contractual obligations such as key contract dates as you are. The best you can do to assist this process is to do your part as quickly as possible and avoid being the weak link in the chain. There is nothing worse than being forced to terminate a contract on your dream property because you haven’t received confirmation of finance on the finance date because you left compiling the documents for your loan assessment to the weekend.
Once the stress of confirming finance on or before the finance date is over, there is still one way things can be made difficult for you when it comes to dealing with your bank. Your contact will provide for a Settlement Date, upon which the buyer (and their bank) must be in a position to provide cheques for the balance purchase price and the seller (and their bank) must be in a position to provide a release of any mortgage over the property. In order to meet these requirements and attend settlement, the banks generally require that settlement be booked at least three business days in advance both for buyers and sellers. In order to provide confirmation that settlement may be booked, the banks require receipt of signed documentation from buyers and sellers alike. Accordingly, it is imperative to provide this documentation immediately upon request (and by express post if the documentation is to be posted). If the bank is not ready to book settlement three business days in advance of the Settlement Date, you risk breaching your contractual obligation to settle on that date which may come with severe financial consequences.
In summary – when it comes to finance, do everything that is required without delay! Following this one piece of simple advice would alleviate the majority of issues clients run into during their conveyances.
2. Never rely on extensions
When it comes to common misconceptions about conveyancing, this is number one. Often where something needs to be done under a contract by a certain day, such as approval of finance or results of a building and pest inspection, most agents or brokers commonly say “if things aren’t looking good, just ask for an extension.” The operative word here is ask. Buyers and sellers alike often assume that extensions are a sure failsafe and easy to come by. The reality is that there is neither party to a conveyance is under any obligation whatsoever to grant an extension. There are an infinite number of good reasons an extension might be refused. A seller might have a higher offer lined up and may be itching for a chance to cancel your contract and sign with a higher offer. A buyer may have gotten cold feet and be waiting for an excuse to get out of a contract. Either party might feel they should have got a better deal and decline to grant an extension because they can.
In summary – Do not rely on extensions as a safety net. The safest course is complete your contractual obligations by the relevant dates specified in the contract. Allowing yourself or other third parties to drag their feet when a signed contract specifies strict time periods is very risky business.
3. Don’t try to hide encumbrances or other matters affecting the property
This is one tactic that often backfires on sellers. A seller might be aware of an encumbrance or encroachment on their property and decide to keep this information from the agent in the mistaken belief that they will be able to achieve a higher purchase price. Examples may be a statutory easement in relation to a sewage mains pipe under the property or a neighbouring house which encroaches over the boundary onto the lot.
Sellers should always be aware that these types of matters may be discovered by a buyer’s solicitor when conducting searches for their client or by a surveyor given that buyers are entitled to conduct a survey. Non-disclosure of encumbrances on the contract of sale may provide the buyer with a right to terminate the contract and/or to claim compensation. One way this commonly plays out is if the buyer finds out they will often demand a reduction in purchase price of many thousands of dollars or threaten termination.
In summary – sometimes honesty really is the best policy. Once an encumbrance has been fully disclosed on the contract, the buyer is taken to have full knowledge of its existence. Not disclosing might seem smart at first but it feels pretty stupid when it hands the buyer an excuse to demand a large price reduction over something which may never have been an issue for them in the first place.
4. Don’t put off arrangements for moving and clearing the property
This is another important one for sellers. Under most contracts for the sale of residential land, the buyer is entitled to vacant possession at settlement. This means that all chattels (moveable items) must be removed from the property in time for settlement. Chattels are distinct from fixtures which are items attached to the property other than by their own weight.
Some examples of things that are not chattels:
- Air Conditioners
- Hot Water Systems
There are a few exceptions to this rule. One is that the contract may specify a list of included chattels which form a component of the sale and may be left behind. (It may also specify a list of excluded fixtures which the seller wants to keep.) Another is that the contract may disclose the particulars of any existing tenancies, allowing those tenants to remain at the property until the expiry of their tenancy agreement. A failure to disclose full and correct details of the tenancy may mean that if you are unable to evict the tenants before settlement, you are in breach of your contractual obligations to provide the buyer with vacant possession.
In summary – Plan early when it comes to moving arrangements and dealing with tenants. As noted previously, extensions can be hard to come by, so it is imperative that if the buyer is entitled to vacant possession, the property is free from unwanted items (and people) by settlement.
5. Don’t skimp on property enquiries
There is nothing worse than believing you’ve saved a few hundred dollars upfront only to pay tens of times the amount of that ‘saving’ later on. The most expensive enquiries a purchaser might make include building and pest inspections and surveys, which can range from a few hundred dollars for an inspection of an apartment to over two thousand dollars for a survey of a block of land. The cost of a building and pest inspection is negligible compared to the costs which could result from a structural defect once you have taken possession. As such, we strongly recommend that any contract signed by our clients as buyer include a building and pest inspection condition such that the buyer may terminate upon receiving an unfavourable report.
Similarly, while spending upwards of two thousand dollars for a survey may seem like a lot in the short term, it can prevent years of protracted bitter disputes regarding boundary and encroachment issues. This may result in tens of thousands of dollars spent on litigation should you find yourself dealing with a boundary or encroachment issue and an unreasonable neighbour. Such issues are particularly commonplace in Brisbane’s inner west due to the hilly terrain and survey plans which are often in excess of 100 years old.
Queensland Law Practice have access to a full range of searches allowing our clients to inspect any particular issue of concern they may have in respect of a property. For all residential purchases, we conduct council rates, special water meter reading and land tax searches so that appropriate adjustments can be made at settlement and so that our clients do not pay for a previous owner’s arrears. We can also conduct full searches of body corporate records for unit purchases to check for defects in the common property or other concerns in relation to the management of body corporate affairs.
6. Don’t take a chance on a cut-price, minimum service conveyancer
There are many cut-price conveyancing operations and local law firms in Brisbane which may quote fixed prices that sound too good to be true. This may be because in fact, they often are too good to be true. Below are some tell tale signs on how to separate the quality conveyancers from the cheaper alternative.
The first point of difference when using a cut-price conveyancer is the terms and conditions. Working on a wafer-thin margin, such terms may include provisions such as an unrealistically low maximum number of emails between the client and the conveyancer, with further correspondence being charged at an hourly rate. This means the final bill will never end up looking anything like the quoted fixed fee.
Another reason why a cut-price conveyancer may be a very costly mistake is when unexpected issues occur. Our experience has shown that issues such as building and pest reports, obtaining finance, or situations where the bank is moving at a slow pace and not ready for settlement to occur are commonplace. With some cut-price conveyance firms, the focus is solely on getting large volume in and out the door quickly, with a lack of regard to address these problems correctly. This ultimately means that their reluctance to spend time solving unexpected issues may result in missing key finance dates ultimately leading to your contract falling through.
At Queensland Law Practice, every conveyance is conducted or supervised by a solicitor, and our focus is on ensuring our clients comply with their contractual obligations and progress their conveyances right through to a successful and timely settlement. With 25 years’ experience with conveyancing in Brisbane, we have the expertise to cater for any eventuality, and regularly go above and beyond in our dealings with banks, agents and other solicitors to give our clients the best possible chance of an on-time settlement.
In summary – you get what you pay for. If something looks too good to be true it often isn’t true, and could in fact become a far more costly option where something unexpected occurs.
7. After a transaction, don’t forget about protecting your most valuable asset
After a purchase of residential property and the stress of moving in, it is often tempting to lie back, move on, and try to recover from the stress of moving. As such a rest is usually well-deserved. At Queensland Law Practice we make it simple and seamless to put a new will into place to ensure that your asset goes where you want in the event of your death. After the effort of obtaining finance, moving, renovating and paying off our most valuable assets, neglecting your will could be a mistake with terrible consequences for loved ones.
The safest option when any major life event such as a marriage, separation, birth or purchase of a home or investment property occurs is to review your existing will straight away, to ensure it reflects any new circumstances and protects any new assets. At Queensland Law Practice, we are experts in wills, enduring powers of attorney and estate matters to make it as easy as possible to get your new will in place. We also have a host of online forms available through our website including online wills and online EPOAs. Alternatively, have us book you in for an appointment to discuss a new will that will fit your new circumstances.
In summary – just because you may be gone doesn’t mean your loved ones are. It is common practice to insure your property to protect it while you are alive, so it is equally important to make sure it will be protected under any circumstances.
8. If you are purchasing as a corporate entity on trustee, confirm the entity to go on the contract with your accountant before signing
We live in a day and age it is commonplace that when buying property, the purchaser will often be a company or even a company acting as trustee (often in connection with a superannuation fund). One of the most common (and potentially most problematic) mistakes we see day-to-day with conveyancing is when a buyer has not checked that the correct entity is listed under the ‘Buyer’ field on the contract and has signed the contract in the belief that they can confirm with their accountant later on and simply amend the contract to reflect the correct entity if necessary.
The reality of this situation is far more troublesome. Where the contract reflects the incorrect entity, termination of the existing contract is best practice and entry into a brand-new contract is required with the correct entity. The reason for this is that it is the only way to ensure you avoid paying for stamp duty twice. To do this the seller will require that the existing contract is terminated by Deed of Rescission, which makes things more problematic given that in order to terminate the existing contract and enter into a new one, the seller will need to give consent to the termination. Currently there is no provision to terminate the standard REIQ contract due to the wrong entity going onto the contract. Even if the seller consents, the process can be costly as it will require a brand new conveyance and the seller will likely require you to pay their costs for preparation of a new contract, Deed of Rescission and any associated legal advice.
In summary – the best advice for anyone purchasing a property – particularly where a corporate entity or trustee relationship is involved – is to confirm with your accountant before signing. This is a very simple way to avoid a mountain of stress and expense further down the track.
9. Obtain pre-contractual advice before you sign
Signing a contract for the purchase of property is one of the final steps in the exchange process. Aside from a few provisions which may exist to allow termination in specific sets of circumstances and within limited time periods, it is generally too late to go back and change something. As a result, if you have any concerns, it is always prudent to obtain pre-contractual advice on a draft contract from a solicitor before you sign.
At Queensland Law Practice, we can provide pre-contractual advice (outside of the conveyancing process itself), offering you peace of mind to ensure that you are satisfied with a contract before you sign. Unfortunately we do see a lot of clients after the fact, that have gone elsewhere to have special condition inserted in order to deal with some particular concern, but the special condition was completely and legally ineffective. Some common examples of these special conditions are for a purchase to be conditional upon sale of an existing property, or where a due diligence condition needs to be inserted to allow a buyer to investigate a certain issue before the contract becomes unconditional. In circumstances when a contract has been signed, and the other party to the conveyance is unwilling to agree to an amendment, there is little you can do other than ‘chalk it up to experience’.
In summary – signing a contract for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars is as serious a matter. Obtain pre-contractual advice before you sign to help explain and ensure that the contract is going to work as you want it to, particularly where special conditions have been inserted.
10. Don’t represent yourself to save on conveyancing fees
This mistake is not as common as the others this list, but is potentially the most disastrous. Occasionally we act on a conveyancing matter where the other party to the conveyance has decided to represent themselves in order to save money. The only situation we have seen where this has ever worked is where the person in question is a solicitor themselves. The reality is that conveyancing in Queensland is a very complicated process where extremely strict time limits apply. Self-represented parties often find themselves locked into a contract, unable to settle in time or unable to liaise in relation to problems that may arise at immediate notice. Often, self-represented parties do not terminate contracts correctly under finance, building and pest or various other conditions and find themselves locked into a bad contract unnecessarily.
In accordance with the notoriously strict requirements of banks, preparing Titles Registry documentation is often impossible for self-represented parties as they do not have the facilities to conduct those searches. This means that self-represented parties often proceed to an unconditional contract without adequate preparation, correct assessment of the various risks or problems and not knowing how or when to terminate a contract.
In summary – while it is common to pay three percent of the value of a property to a real estate agent when selling a property, good conveyancing only costs a small fraction of one percent. This is an extremely small outlay given the immense consequences that may stem from representing yourself on a contract worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.