Selling a house - conveyancing - what to do
The information in this fact sheet IS NOT designed to let you do-it-yourself - there are other products that do this - we just want to give you some background information on the usual process.
There are a number of stages involved in a standard conveyance:
- Sign the Contract Note (or similar e.g. Offer and Acceptance, Offer to Purchase) or Contract of Sale.
- Exchange contracts with the buyer.
- Answer Requisitions on Title.
- Sign the Transfer of Land.
- Arrange mortgage discharge.
Requisitions on Title
In States/Territories where this is applicable, these are questions (requisitions) that the buyer asks you about the property. There are also other types of requisitions, usually issued by banks or the Titles Office, but we will not cover them here.
Normally requisitions are sent to the seller as soon as possible after signing the Contract Note (or similar e.g. Offer and Acceptance, Offer to Purchase) or Contract of Sale (whichever was offered first).
There are standard form questions that are usually used. There will be a space at the top of the form where the buyer puts the details of the property, their name and your name.
If the buyer doesn't ask the questions they are considered to have accepted that everything is okay with the property.
There is a fine line between giving too much information and not giving enough, or giving answers that are misleading. The bottom line is that you have to hand over a satisfactory title at settlement (this is called "giving good title").
If you give an answer that later proves to be false, it might be enough for the buyer to cancel the contract. Remember, you have to put your name (by signing) to these answers.
If you have a lawyer/conveyancer, they will be able to deal with these and discuss the responses with you.
After you have signed your contract you exchange your copy with the copy signed by the buyer, i.e. you get the signed buyer's copy and they get your signed copy.
The Transfer of Land
This is the document that tells the Titles Office (or Land Titles Office) to change the registered ownership of the property into the buyer's name. The buyer prepares the Transfer of Land. This is handed over at settlement.
The purchase price of the property is "adjusted" to allow for expenses associated with the property that have been paid in advance or are owing at settlement.
Adjustments are necessary because rates are charged over a 12 month period, and the sale of the property will take place at some time during that 12 months.
It is unfair if you have to pay for rates and charges that apply to the period after the property is sold.
Remember that different authorities charge from different starting dates, so the buyer will have to work out each adjustment separately.
Adjustments are calculated by dividing the total amount of the annual rates by 365 (for the days in the year) to get a daily rate. The buyer is then able to "adjust" for the balance.
Discharging the mortgage
You must give a clear title at settlement. So it is your responsibility to make sure that any mortgages are paid out and removed from the title.
You or your solicitor/conveyancer contacts the bank or lending institution that holds the mortgage. Once they know what the settlement date is, they will tell you what the final pay-out figure for the mortgage is. This figure will include costs for discharging the mortgage.
A formal discharge of the mortgage is handed over to the buyer at settlement. This is then lodged at the Titles Office (or Land Titles Office).
This is the big day, the one you have been waiting for!
Everyone gets together and exchanges the documents and cheques that complete the sale of the property.
As long as everyone has done their job properly, it should be a simple process. Although it's surprising the things that can go wrong - not necessarily all are major problems.
After settlement, you or your lawyer or conveyancing company will tell the relevant authorities that you no longer own the property.
Last Updated – April 2010
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This fact sheet is intended to be general information about the law in Australia. It is not a substitute for legal or other professional advice. Lawscape Communications Pty Ltd and Fairfax Digital Ltd do not accept responsibility for loss to any person, who either acts or does not act because of this fact sheet. Last Updated - October 2005