You’ve decided to sell your property. So, what happens next? Once you have engaged a real estate agent to market and sell your property on your behalf or you have decided to market and sell the property yourself, it is important to engage the services of an experienced property solicitor/conveyancer to prepare the Contract for Sale and manage the process for you. Here we answer some common legal questions people often have when deciding to sell their property.

Do I need a solicitor to sell my property?

While it is not compulsory in NSW to be legally represented when selling a property, selling a property is a legal process, so it is helpful to have a solicitor on board to provide advice that is in your best interests. 

It is also important to note that if you have engaged a real estate agent to market and sell your property on your behalf or you have decided to sell the property yourself, a Contract for Sale must be prepared before a property can be advertised for sale. 

Our experienced property solicitors can help you with preparing the contract (which must include certain information and documents by law), dealing with negotiations on the contract (which can be technical in nature) and settlement (which may involve several parties other than the purchaser such as a discharging bank and an incoming bank).

What legal documents do I need when selling my property?

As the vendor (seller/property owner), you must include certain information and documents in the Contract for Sale. If you fail to include these documents in the contract, the purchaser is entitled to rescind (cancel) the contract and have their deposit refunded.

If you are selling a house, you must include the following in the contract: 

  • Title search confirming ownership of the property
  • Deposited plan of the land in which the property is situated
  • Planning certificate issued by local council
  • Sewer location plan and sewer service diagram showing the location of sewer lines
  • Documents creating easements, right of way, restrictions or covenants
  • Certificate of registration and compliance/non-compliance for any swimming pools

If you are selling a unit, you must include:

  • Title search confirming ownership of the property
  • Common property title search
  • Strata plan showing where the unit, carspace (if any) and storage (if any) is located
  • By-laws which affect the strata scheme
  • Other documents which affect the strata scheme
  • Planning certificate issued by local council
  • Sewer location plan and sewer service diagram showing the location of sewer lines
  • Documents creating easements, right of way, restrictions or covenants

Although not compulsory, it may also be helpful to include the following documents if available:

  • Survey report
  • Building certificate
  • Home warranty insurance
  • Final Occupation Certificate

An experienced property and conveyancing lawyer can assist with preparing and sourcing these documents on your behalf. Get in touch with us if you would like to learn more.

How much does a property solicitor cost?

Most law firms will charge a fixed fee on property matters, however, be aware that some firms do charge on an hourly rate. At Ivy Law Group, our property solicitors charge a fixed fee on our sale and purchase matters, depending on the type of matter, complexity and estimated sale/purchase price of the property.

There will also be disbursements, which is any costs your solicitor or conveyancer has incurred on your behalf. This could be anything from securing a land tax clearance certificate to obtaining rates certificates and conducting searches for documents needed to prepare a contract.

 If you would like to learn more about how we can assist, please submit an online enquiry.

What is the difference between selling my property by auction and selling by private treaty?

If you are selling your property by auction, prospective purchasers will attend at a specified location and time to bid on the property. Before the auction, you will set a reserve price which is the lowest amount that you are willing to accept for the property. If the highest bid is higher than the reserve price, the property is sold to that bidder.

There is no cooling off period if a property is sold at auction, and no changes to the contract can be made thereafter.

If you are selling your property by private treaty, you set the sale price through the real estate agent or through an online property service if you are selling the property yourself without a real estate agent and the property is placed on the market.

Once a price is agreed between you and the purchaser, contracts may be exchanged subject to a cooling off period (typically five business days) or the cooling off period may be waived. Negotiations in relation to the property can be done up until the contract becomes unconditional.

What happens when contracts are exchanged?

In NSW, exchange of contracts happens when two copies of the contract (one copy signed by you as the vendor and one copy signed by the purchaser) are swapped or “exchanged” and a deposit is paid.

Exchange of contracts can be done either through your solicitor or conveyancer or the real estate agent and the date of exchange is noted on the front page of each contract.

Contracts can be exchanged with a cooling off period (usually five business days) or without a cooling off period (where the purchaser’s solicitor/conveyancer will sign a Section 66W certificate that waives the cooling off period).

What happens at settlement?

This is the final stage of the sale/purchase process. This is when the purchaser will pay the balance of the purchase price for the property plus any adjustments as required to you as the vendor, and ownership of the property will pass from you as the vendor to the purchaser.

In NSW, the usual settlement period is 42 days (6 weeks) after contracts are exchanged but can be made longer or shorter by negotiation.

Ready to sell?

If you have any further questions about the process for selling a property and your legal requirements, our experienced and friendly property and conveyancing lawyers are here to assist.

Get in touch with us today by submitting an online enquiry or calling us on 02 9262 4003.

If you would like to learn more about the process for purchasing a property, see our article: “buying a property: your legal questions answered.”

The content of this article is intended as a general guide to the subject matter. For specific legal advice about your individual circumstances, please contact our experienced lawyers.
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