Your instructions to your conveyancer

It would be extremely helpful to your sale if you are able to provide Council approvals for all improvements on the property, ie: house, garage, pergola, shed, pool and etc.


If there are improvements which have not been Council approved, these may need to be disclosed in the contract otherwise you may not have an enforceable contract. If so, the purchaser can back out of the contract and perhaps leave you unable to fulfill any commitment you have made eg, buying another home.


If you do not have the approvals then the purchaser may ask you to purchase a survey, and to obtain a building certificate from the council confirming compliance (approx total cost $700). If council finds something they have not approved, council may require you to demolish it.  All improvements during the previous 7 years may need to be backed up with Home Owners Warranty Insurance certificates also, depending on the cost.  100 point identification of each person selling property is now required also.


Exchange of contracts

This is when the 2 identical copies of the contract are signed, one by the vendor and one by the purchaser, and physically swapped, “exchanged”, and dated. A contractual relationship is then formed. All time related calculations start from this date (not from the end of the cooling off period).


Cooling off period

Where the contract is exchanged by the Agent, the purchaser is entitled to a statutory 5 business day cooling off period.This allows the purchaser time to finalise their finance and their pest and building inspections.


The property is off the market for this time and cannot be sold to another person.This period can be extended by agreement with you as vendor. It often takes the banks longer than the 5 days to give the purchaser an unconditional loan approval.


During the cooling off period, you as vendor, are locked into the sale. However, the purchaser is not. They can cancel the contract any time during this period. They can also approach you to renegotiate the price.

If the purchaser pulls out, then you get the 0.25% deposit they paid.


Alternatively, Contracts may be exchanged without a cooling off period where the purchasers' conveyancer does the exchange. This would be after pest building and finance are completed and are all fine. The property remains on the market and can be sold to another person until the contracts are exchanged.


Release of deposit

This requires content from client

Settlement or Completion

This is when you have to vacate the property and when the money is paid and the property transferred. Usually about 42 days after the contracts have been exchanged and dated (not 42 days after the cooling off period expired).


Home Insurance

Do not let the insurance on your house lapse. Continue the insurance until after settlement has taken place.



Keep paying your mortgage installments. You may be able to stop paying about a week before the settlement.


Line of Credit

If the loan secured by the mortgage against your property is a line of credit then your access to your available funds will be stopped about 10 days before settlement. This is so a final balance can be determined. Before the account is stopped, it would be advisable to draw sufficient funds to keep you going until after settlement.


Electricity, gas, telephone, pay TV

You will have to personally call your provider about 3 days before settlement and make arrangements for your account to be cancelled as at the settlement day.


Council and Water Rate

These are adjusted on settlement. You are responsible for the rates up to the day of settlement and the purchaser is responsible after that. The payment is attended to out of the sale proceeds. If you have a rates payment due sometime within the last 3 weeks before settlement it is probably better if you speak to us before you pay it so as to avoid your paying it twice.


Risk Management (A)

Have copies of all approval documents or notices available. We may decide to attach some of these to the contract or they may be held available for inspection as appropriate. These will give a lot of comfort to a purchaser and will help you to sell the property more easily. The documents may include any or more of the following items for each one of the improvements which have been constructed on your land: 


    »   Council approved building plans
    »    Council's Development approval
    »    Council's final inspection certificate for completed works
    »   Occupation Certificate
    »   Survey
    »   Building Certificate
    »    Home Owners Warranty Insurance Certificate
    »    Pest treatment certificates
    »    Any notice received from the council requiring you to undertake some work on the property

Any notice received from the council or statutory authority stating they require part of your property eg, road widening



Risk Management (B)

If you don't have any of these approvals because you bought the house “as is” from a previous owner you may need to consider Title Insurance (also see below).


One of the problems with buying a property without obtaining a survey or building certificate or other evidence of council approval is that these issues are likely to resurface when the person eventually sells the property.  People who wanted to save a few dollars when they bought the property often regret that decision when they go to sell. Their purchasers then demand survey reports and buildings certificates or go off and get them themselves, often revealing a sad state of affairs.


Risk Management (C)

It is your responsibility as vendor to establish that the actual measurements of the property are the same as those measurements specified in the title plan. Examination of the title only, does not enable us to assist you in this regard. The purchaser may ask you to obtain a survey. If you or your lender do not have one already one may need to be obtained if the purchaser requests it.


Building Certificate

In addition to a survey, a purchaser may want to be assured that all the improvements on the property comply with local Council's building requirements. This may be achieved by applying for a building certificate. The cost of providing a building certificate and a survey can become a matter of negotiation as to who will meet the expense if they are not already held by you.


Easements and Covenants

It is also desirable to check for the existence of any easements or covenants not shown on the Title. These may be disclosed by, for example, the presence of a defined path or track, a drain through or over the property, overhanging eaves on any adjoining building, or a wall shared in common with an adjoining building. Examination of the Title cannot assist in this regard.


Title Insurance

Title Insurance is a new specialised type of property insurance available to purchasers and home owners. It is not the same as building insurance.


Both Stewart Title and First Title offer this type of insurance to Australian purchasers and owners. We can provide product material for your review.


Stewart Title's Residential Purchaser Policy protects ownership and use of the property by guarding against certain unknowns and hidden risks that may cause loss or may affect ownership. (We are not as familiar with the products offered by First Title.)


In our view, professional opinion and service, combined with a title insurance policy, provides you with the most effective way of managing your exposure to potential risks and therefore the best protection following the conveyancing process and for the term of your ownership. The cost of a policy starts from $300 (excluding GST and stamp duty) for properties valued up to $500,000 (this is a one time payment and lasts until you sell the property).


Please note that whilst we recommend this product to you on an independent basis we do not receive commission or other benefits from Stewart Title.


The purpose of this outline is to give you some understanding of what to expect during the course of a property sale. This can help you anticipate each next step and be reasonably well informed. We are happy to answer any questions.



  »     Have contract prepared by conveyancer
  »      Select and List property with Real Estate Agent
  »     Purchaser found
  »      Contracts exchanged
  »      Cooling off period (if any) expires



  »      Request to lender to discharge mortgage 
  »     Reply to purchasers' requisitions on title
  »     Settlement figures agreed



  »      Settlement booked  
  »      Lender provides payout figure on mortgage
  »     Cheque direction provided to purchasers' solicitor
  »     Settlement (usually) occurs in Sydney CBD or now electronically

We will advise you in getting property transactions settled quickly and efficiently.  

Remember - we are here to help and we're only an email or a phone call away.  


Please feel free to email or call the office on 02 4647 7498.