Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why Does it Take a Mountain of Paperwork Just to Buy a House?

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will make. It’s representative of an adult standing on his or her own two feet. It represents freedom; a potential legacy; your home and sanctuary.

The process of looking for a house is very exciting, if occasionally challenging! It involves so much searching, bidding, budgeting and stress, but the moment you find that one space that is destined to be yours, it is positively exhilarating.

Then, with a great find comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes a great deal of paperwork.

Why is so much documentation necessary (causing you much stress as you rush around to collect and organise it all)? We break down the following reasons:

  1. For bank loans

    Banks require a lot of verification in order to consider approving you for a home loan. This is because they need to protect themselves against financial risk by ensuring you can actually afford the loan.

    Typically, banks will ask you for proof of identification, recent proof of income, investment records, credit card statements, current residential status and details of the contract of sale if you’ve already entered an agreement.

    You will also be advised to take out insurance on the property purchased, which should be effective on the date the contract is signed by both parties. Even though the property may be covered by the vendor’s insurance up to the date of settlement, most lending institutions will generally require purchasers to take out building and contents insurance from the date the contract is signed in order to safeguard the lending institution’s interest as the lender.

  2. For legal protection

    Presenting, signing and collecting documents can put a dampener on your excitement, but these documents are essential. They not only ensure the legal transfer, but they can protect your interests in the event of legal trouble encountered while settling the property.

    For instance, a contract of sale has the job of clarifying the conditions and inclusions made as part of the sale agreement. For instance: who owns the dryer that is bolted to the wall in the laundry? You can’t make assumptions about chattels, and the paperwork involved in managing this process can protect your interests. Other supporting documents like title search or a Certificate of Title are required as proof of ownership. Moves are being made by the government to digitise parts of this process – but for now, transacting these documents does churn through a lot of trees.

  3. For government records

    Once you settle a property and walk away with the keys it is not the end of the process. When a property changes hands, the government needs to be made aware of the shift in ownership. It also legitimises the transactions and accords you the official rights of a property owner as recognized by the state.

    Thus, after settlement  a transfer of land document should be lodged for registration at the Land Titles office. You should also be ready with your contract of sale, duties forms and a notice of acquisition to facilitate duty assessment.

The processes of making an offer, reaching an agreement and settling are quite complicated, so engaging the services of an experienced and qualified conveyancer can help you ensure that the transaction goes smoothly. For an obligation-free discussion with our friendly team at Think Conveyancing, contact us on 1300 932 738 or request a free quote online.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Friends Versus Business: Do You Need a Conveyancer for a Private Property Sale?

The process of property buying and selling necessitates considerable legal work. This is where the need for licensed professional conveyancers comes in, especially when the people at the other end of the deal are people you don’t know.

What happens, however, when you are dealing with people you know?

When you’re selling to friends and family, hiring a conveyancer may feel unnecessary. After all, you’re transacting with people you know and trust, and it will potentially save time and money if you skip this step and do your own conveyancing.

You know the old saying, though; never mix business with pleasure. As conveyancers, we’ve seen plenty of transactions fall apart over the years and in many cases, the problems arise when emotions are in the mix.

Here, we outline some common considerations that you still need to keep in mind – even when your buyers or sellers are your loved ones:

  1. You still need to meet all your legal obligations.

    Conveyancing, which can be a complex process, is guided by the laws of your state or territory. “You still need a conveyancer to prepare the contract of sale, a statutory disclosure statement (often referred to as ‘Form 1’) and the other documentation required by law for the sale to proceed,” explains the SA branch of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC). Managing this process on your own could see you overlook or skip essential steps in the process, which could result in delays or added expenses.

  2. You need someone to help you remain impartial.

    When we’re dealing with people we know, we can sometimes be hesitant to act as forcefully as we normally would with an unknown third party. A conveyancer helps add some impartiality back into the deal, to ensure you don’t unwittingly agree to unfair terms or conditions, and gives you a legal grounding to fall back on if you wish to negotiate with the other party.

  3. You need a check-and-balance.

    A conveyancer can play the highly important role of objectively checking through title transfer agreements made between yourself and your buyer, protecting your best interests in the process.

  4. You need someone to help you see the selling process to the end.

    A property transaction, especially one that involves your home, doesn’t just end with a turnover of keys. You have to liaise with the bank regarding your mortgage, inform the government of a change to ownership in the property and calculate the necessary adjustments. A conveyancer can help you care of these details, and offer guidance and support on any areas you’re unsure of.

To save money, you and your friend or family member may consider hiring one conveyancer to act on behalf of both of you. There are some serious risks here – for instance, a conflict of interest is quite possible, since the conveyancer will have to juggle the best interests of two competing parties.

As a result, very few conveyancers are willing to agree to such arrangements, and those who do require the parties to sign release forms freeing the conveyancer of any liability.

Our recommendation? When it comes to mixing business with pleasure, do your best to keep the process as independent, straightforward and stress-free as possible. For the sake of a relatively small fee, you can engage a legal professional to act on your behalf and ensure your best interests are prioritised, every step of the way.

At Think Conveynacing, we’re always happy to help you with any aspect of your conveyancing requirements. For more information on what we do and how we could help you, please contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738. You can also contact us online here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Future is Now: How Technology is Making Property Transactions More Convenient

As the digital age continues to transform how we live, technology is progressively becoming integrated into everyday life. These days, hardly anyone can get by without a smartphone, the Internet and a home computer – and with such mod cons at our reach, it’s becoming more commonplace for transactions and business deals to take place online, too.

The property industry has not be immune from this advancement – in fact, it has enthusiastically kept up with the evolution of digitisation.

In the United States, the industry belief is that we’re headed towards seamless transactions: Rick Sharga, CMO of California real estate firm Ten-X, confirms: “The notion that people will be able to buy and sell properties wherever they are, whenever they want, using whatever computing device they feel like, is where the industry is going.”

Whether such a fast-paced state of play will be adopted in Australia remains to be seen!

That said, we are already seeing evidence of several ways in which technology is simplifying property transactions, for both buyers and sellers:

  1. Real-estate apps

    Apps continue to make life easy for agents and vendors, compiling complicated services into handy, user-friendly packages. For instance, Australian depreciation experts Washington Brown have developed the Property Calculator app for iOS, which helps investors to calculate expected depreciation tax benefits. The BMT Tax app serves the same purpose for Android users. Buyers can also determine the best properties and suburbs to invest in through the Suburb Investor app, which utilises data from CoreLogic to provide information on value. And of course, a good browser app never hurts to get you access to the top real estate websites.

  2. Social media

    One of the best places to list – and find – homes for sale these days is increasingly through social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. Word spreads easily because postings can reach your friends, and their friends – and you never quite know who’s following along. Social media also enables a seller to show off photos and videos of the property on the market, and to even provide real-time updates on any work being done to enhance the property further.

  3. Virtual reality

    Interested buyers are now able to view houses through their screens instead of having to personally visit the property. Video tours are one of the most popular ways to market real estate, especially those that utilise 3-D software, as they enable you to experience a home halfway across Australia. Photo editing software is getting more sophisticated, allowing virtual staging – where you can add decor and furnishings to listings photos – in order to give buyers a premium idea of how the house will look once lived in.

Behind the scenes, technology is enabling faster processing of paperwork and correspondence, which may soon translate to faster conveyancing and improved finance processing times, leading to quicker settlements.

However, whilst there are now a number of ways that the real estate industry is evolving and improving, nothing quite beats the personalised touch of one-on-one service. Whilst these apps and advances help to facilitate long-distance (and even global) interactions, buyers and sellers ultimately do business at a personal level, through phone calls, text messages and e-mail. At Think Conveyancing, we leverage the best of technology to make our operations as efficient as possible, while also keeping our focus on our customers. For an obligation-free chat about your situation and how we may be able to assist you, contact our friendly team at Think Conveyancing on 1300 932 738, or request a free quote online.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future of Property Conveyancing

When a homebuyer finds “the one”, they usually want to rush through the process of buying so they can move in as soon as possible! However where buying and selling property is concerned, conveyancing is a vital aspect in ensuring that the transaction runs smoothly, and all legal loopholes are covered for both purchaser and vendor.

Given its vibrant housing market, Australia has a robust conveyancing industry with conveyancers found in every state. As with all industries, conveyancing is undergoing advancements and changes to suit the needs of an ever more digital-savvy population.

Here are some trends we’ve observed that tell us where the art of property conveyancing is heading:

  1. Save the trees!

    With environmental issues increasingly top of mind, preserving our forests via the introduction of paperless processes. Given that property conveyance requires so much paperwork, it’s only natural that it is becoming increasingly popular. Conveyancing is a very paper-heavy process, but it is slowly making the move into digitisation.

    Indeed, the NSW government has made motions to phase out printed certificates of title as electronic processes become more secure and reliable, while the Big 4 banks have collectively discarded 1.6 million printed land certificates for mortgages in Victoria. The rise of e-conveyancing is also expected to limit settlement delays and generate significant time savings.

    Dominic Perrottet, current Treasurer and the Minister for Industrial Relations and former Minister for Finance, Services and Property, puts it this way: “Across Australia, the future of conveyancing is digital. The benefits are clear, the technology is here.”

  2. The rise of DIY.

    Another trend in property conveyancing is the DIY movement. This has become popular among those who are on a budget, and has led to some firms offering conveyancing kits that outline the typical components of a property transaction and provide a background on conveyancing.

    While DIY could potentially save you some money upfront, there are several inherent risks to this option. For those who want to try DIY conveyancing, it’s important to note that it can be a time-consuming and at times complex process. With a professional conveyancer guiding you forward, you are less likely to make mistakes, which could have complicated, complex and lasting implications. Read more about the big risks of DIY conveyancing here.

    Furthermore, conveyancing is a highly regulated procedure and some legal documents in a DIY kit still require signoff from a licensed lawyer or conveyancer; if attempting to manage your own conveyancing, it could be difficult to find a legal practitioner who’s willing to provide short-term or ad-hoc services.

  3. Security first.

    With the rise of e-conveyancing comes the need for increased security awareness, both on a conveyancer’s part and on a client’s.

Cyber security is a serious concern especially with hackers growing bolder and more aggressive in their attempts to obtain personal information, and the compromise of data can lead to legal trouble. It’s important that you work with a conveyancer that is up to date with the latest verification laws, as this new standard practice goes a step further towards ensuring your identity is protected.

These are just some of the big trends impacting the conveyancing and property industry and at Think Conveyancing, we make sure we’re on top of the latest changes that could impact our valued clients.

Our lawyers are committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience to you, whether you’re buying or selling property, so for more information about our services, processes or fees, contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738. You can also contact us online here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Homeowners Beware – The Risks of Accepting Unwritten Quotes

Buying a property is more than just the fairytale ending of purchasing a home and settling in to live happily ever after. It is often a tricky business, especially when third parties get involved in your quest to create your ideal sanctuary.

Most people know the general rule of thumb when getting quotes: always request at least three quotes.

However, the often-forgotten side note to this rule is that those quotes should be provided in writing. It is important to have a document that serves as a personal insurance in the event of any disputes or miscommunications – particularly if legal issues arise as a result.

What protection does a written quote offer?

It is essential to get quotes in writing regardless of the job at hand, whether you’re hiring a plumber, a builder or a conveyancer. This is true even if you know the person who is doing the work.

You might think, “I’m working with someone I really trust”, and you therefore choose to take a contractor’s word for it. However, here are some reasons why that’s not enough:

  1. A quote that’s not confirmed in writing can suddenly change in cost.

    This can spell trouble, especially if you’re on a budget. A quote is meant to provide specific details on costs such as tools and labour, allowing you to wisely make decisions based on what you can afford. However, if you accept a verbal quote, it may not be legally binding – and you run the risk of a service provider suddenly increasing the price for any number of reasons, at a point when you can no longer turn back.

  2. A quote that’s not in writing can cause confusion regarding scope of work.

    Failing to clarify expected services or scope of work clearly and in writing can lead to disagreements and misunderstanding. An important distinction to keep in mind is that an estimate is different from a quote. Estimates are usually given verbally and can be vague with regard to the details on the work to be done. Quotes are usually more concrete and can be relied on as a final figure.

  3. A quote that’s not in writing can prevent you from fairly comparing.

    A written quote allows you to keep track of the prices, inclusions and expected timeframes. Ideally, you should be requesting the same information so you can compare apples with apples. You may receive (and accept) a lower verbal quote, only to find after the fact that it increases once extra services and inclusions are factored in – and it therefore wasn’t the most competitive quote at all.

What if my supplier can’t provide a written quote?

Understandably, there are some situations where suppliers may be incapable of presenting a very clear quote right off the bat. In these cases, estimates can serve as a temporary placeholder, but they should always be followed by proper written quotes once the details have been hammered out.

For instance, at Think Conveyancing, when we provide a written quote to potential clients, we include fixed costs for services that we know are relevant, and we then include a guide/range of costs for services that may be required and estimate costs for disbursements that may be incurred. This provides transparency and ensures there are no surprises when the bill arrives.

Keep in mind that written quotes don’t need to be actually supplied on paper; they can be provided via the post, on email or even in a text message.

Ultimately, getting a written quote is about safeguarding yourself. The acceptance of a quote indicates a need for both parties to follow through on the listed terms, so by having something in writing, you protect yourself from getting ripped off.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss your situation in further detail, please contact our friendly team on 1300 932 738. You can also contact us online here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Off the Plan Property is Risky in 2017

Property Builders

Buying off the plan property can be an appealing option to property investors and homeowners alike, who wish to own a new home and to benefit from stamp duty discounts. But despite these benefits, off the plan property purchases come with some serious risks.

As conveyancers, we’ve seen the negative side of buying off the plan play out in myriad ways. For instance, the developer may be unable to deliver the terms of the contract, which leaves the buyer with several problems. Or, property values may fall between purchasing and settling, leaving you as the buyer in a position where you need to come up with more cash to settle the deal.

Furthermore, with tens of thousands of new apartments being constructed Australia-wide in 2017, oversupply is a looming issue.

If you are planning to buy off the plan property this year, make sure you know of the following potential pitfalls:

Construction delays

Though property developers provide an estimate of when the property will be completed, finishing behind schedule is a possibility. The uncertainty of apartment completion can be very frustrating for buyers who have already deposited 5-10% of the developer’s asking price for the property.

At best, delays may be an inconvenience. At worst, buyers might be left homeless for some time if their lease expires in the month that the off the plan property is supposed to be finished. To gauge the risk of delay in the property you’re buying, ask the developer about their track record for delivering projects on time in the past.

Different than expected

One thing to consider about off the plan properties is that you never know what the final product will look like. There is always a possibility that the finished product may turn out differently from the original plan, or differently to what you expected.

In some cases, the fixtures and fittings may not match the original specifications. But there are also instances in which the floor plan and balconies have actually been different from the ones stated in the contract. Units may even turn out smaller than expected.

In such cases of “material alteration”, we would advise buyers that they have the right to renegotiate the price, but this process can be stressful and time-consuming. Furthermore, not all alterations can be construed as “material” as developers will normally reserve certain rights to amend the plans and specifications for off the plan developments. The best risk mitigation strategy in this regard is to stay in close contact with your developer, and if you see any red flags – such as the measurements and the area of the floor plan being substantially different to what was promised – raise the issue with them as soon as possible.

Slow price appreciation

Experts have been warning that an apartment glut will eventuate this year, which is a cause for concern for off the plan buyers, as it could lower the resale value of your property. According to a recent report, 60% of units purchased off the plan in inner Melbourne since 2011 have made a loss or broke once resold.

Adding to this risk for investors is the fact that BIS Shrapnel is warning that gross yields may fall under 4%, once rental returns slip due to an apartment oversupply. Brisbane and Melbourne are both experiencing a property glut at present, and National Australia Bank forecasts apartment sale prices to stay flat or fall in all capital cities in the short term looking forward.
To mitigate this risk, property investors are advised to buy in a location with a small number of apartment buildings, as it helps to ensure a scarcity value.

Financial risks

When buying off the plan, it is impossible to know the final apartment value for the property, even with careful planning and forecasting. Buyers must take the word of the developer and trust it – which can prove to be financially fatal.

In cases where the property is valued at a lower price than the price you agreed to pay, as a buyer, you must make up the difference financially by providing a larger deposit. We have seen clients in this type of situation before as conveyancers and it can be extremely stressful for buyers in this situation.

With many uncertainties in the current property market, not to mention the changing landscape for the mortgage industry, buyers should think doubly hard when buying an off the plan property. As conveyancers, we are available to help you navigate the complicated terms and conditions that may apply with an off the plan purchase. Please contact our friendly team today on 1300 932 738 or you can also contact us online here.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why Queensland Property Buyers Need a Conveyancer

Death by paperwork may be the funny term given to the risk of drowning in real estate documents, but when you’re buying or selling property, it’s no laughing matter!

If you’ve ever transacted property before, you’ll know that it involves a lot of document preparation and review, such as the contract of sale, land titles, transfer documents, and duties forms. Processing these property sales documents is the domain of a conveyancer, who is an essential member of your real estate team.

There are several reasons why Queensland property buyers in particular need to hire a qualified conveyancer, including following:

A conveyancer can handle any type of property transaction

A conveyancer can provide guidance and support for almost any type of property transaction – whether you’re buying or selling the property, updating a title due to inheritance or estate transfers, or even just registering a covenant or an easement. In all of these cases, there are legal documents that need to be updated, and your conveyancer can assist.  

A conveyancer knows the ins and outs of property transactions in Queensland.

Your conveyancer for a Queensland-based property transaction is based in the state, and they know the requirements for the sale to be legally finalised and filed with the registry. They know all the documents that are required before, during, and after the sale of the property, and can assist with ensuring you meet all the obligations of settling your property by the settlement date.

5 Interview questions to ask your conveyancer >>

A conveyancer helps you save time and effort.

With a conveyancer on your team, you do not need to do the actual nitty gritty work of calculating adjustments or filing of the documents yourself. Your only job is to focus on negotiating the sale of the property, as the time, effort and hassle of collating and organising all the required documents and adjustments are handled by the conveyancer.

For instance, consider the fact that council rates are paid by the current owner until a certain date. Your conveyancer will calculate how many days of council rates have been paid; how many of these days are post-settlement; and will arrange a financial ‘adjustment’ between buyer and seller to account for this. These little tasks add up, and having a conveyancer handle them for you saves you time and stress.

A conveyancer can help you avoid any legal pitfalls.

Though not all conveyancers are lawyers – all conveyancers in Queensland have legal qualifications, but some have more legal expertise than others – you can be sure that your Queensland-licensed conveyancer is knowledgeable when it comes to Queensland property laws. They are required to thoroughly study these rules and regulations, giving you peace of mind that they can help you avoid legal mistakes and pitfalls.

If you are buying or selling property in Queensland, you should look for a licensed conveyancer who is an expert in Queensland property laws. At Think Conveyancing, many of our solicitors are qualified and experienced in handling conveyancing transactions in several states and territories across the country. Every state has its own set of property rules and it’s important to work with a legal professional who is experienced in your specific state or territory.   If you have any questions about your property transaction or the conveyancing process in general,or to request a free quote, call us on 1300 932 738 to speak with one of our team members today.