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A guide for first home buyers on the final steps of settlement and getting the keys to your dream home.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Congratulations – your offer has been accepted you are on your way to becoming a first home owner! Just when you think you are at the end of your home buying journey the time between your offer being accepted and getting the keys can seem endless. There are still a few things to consider during this period, which we have listed for you in the order they generally occur.

Appoint a conveyancer or solicitor

To finalise the contracts through to settlement you will need to appoint a conveyancer or solicitor to review your contract and represent you. You can find a local conveyancer or solicitor or there are many online conveyancer services available as well. Your conveyancer will also be able to check any special conditions on your property title, such as easements and covenants on the site. If you’re buying an apartment or townhouse, your conveyancer will check which kind of land title governs the property and your ongoing obligations as an owner.

Pest and building inspections and valuation

Make sure you and your conveyancer are satisfied with the pest and building inspection. You may want to be cautious if the reports show significant structural issues as that could become expensive in the future.

If you already have home loan pre-approval your lender will need to value the property to ensure it is worth what you have offered. If the valuation says the property is worth less than you are paying then the loan amount may need to be reviewed.

Review contracts

Your conveyancer should check for mine subsidence and any other potential site risks (i.e. flood or fire zones) and advise you of any unusual clauses within the contract (for example a shorter or longer settlement period). Your conveyancer should also ensure that adjustments are made for council and water rates to ensure the previous home owner pays their portion of the rates for that quarter (so you are not left with a bill for utilities you didn’t use!).

You should have a thorough read of the contract and consider the site plans – do any utility pipes run through the yard right where you thought you might build a deck, pool or garage? Are there any extensions or buildings that currently exist on the block that don’t appear in the council records? All buildings need to be approved by council, so if it’s not on the plans it’s worth investigating to ensure you don’t end up answering to authorities for an illegal building on your block!

Contract exchanges

Once you and your conveyancer are satisfied with the above then you sign the contract and your conveyancer exchanges contracts with the vendor’s conveyancer. During this time a settlement date is agreed upon, and your conveyancer also engages with your lender to ensure they know when to attend your settlement appointment.

Settlement

On the settlement date your conveyancer, the vendor’s conveyancer and your lender will meet and money will be exchanged to finalise the purchase. Your bank will store the property titles for safekeeping until you have finished paying off your loan and fully own your home. Once settlement is completed your conveyancer will let you know that you are now officially a first home owner!

Your lender will usually send you an email or letter setting out the loan number for your home loan, the repayment amounts and frequency, as well as the date the first repayment will fall due.


This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to your objectives, financial situation or needs and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Before you act on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. Applications subject to credit approval and fees and charges are payable. Terms and conditions apply and are available on request.

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