The big day is approaching.
You’ve bought the place of your dreams and you can’t wait to move in.
Settlement day is when your new property officially becomes yours. The contracts are signed, the paperwork is handed over and ownership is transferred onto your name. It’s all smooth sailing…
Not so fast.
A settlement can be a stressful process if things haven’t been lined up correctly. From termites to fine print, there are many obstacles that can complicate your special day, and potentially add to your expenses.
To make sure the day runs smoothly, here’s a complete checklist of everything you need to do before settlement.
1. Arrange a conveyancer or solicitor
Your first job should be to arrange a legal representative to take care of all the extensive paperwork and formalities that come with buying and selling a property.
Licensed conveyancers are the most commonly employed professionals to handle these affairs, however some solicitors are qualified to oversee the conveyancer process too.
Among other tasks, your chosen legal representative will be able to perform the following:
- Prepare and/or clarify documentation
- Research property and certificate of title
- Check for easements and other information you need
- Calculate rates and taxes
- Conduct a property settlement on your behalf
- Conduct a final title search
- Represent your interests with a real estate agent or vendor
Although it is possible to handle the legal processes yourself, it’s strongly recommended against. Property laws can be very complicated and you will be held responsible for any mistakes that are made.
2. Building and pest inspection
When buying a house, additional expenses can start to cause serious headaches. This is why arranging a building and pest inspection is so important.
There are many problems with a property that may not be immediately visible during a standard inspection. Water, fire and termite damage are just some of the underlying issues that require expensive repairs, even when a house appears fine on the surface.
The professional who conducts your building and pest inspection report will be able to identify every issue with a property and cost of necessary action to rectify them. You can potentially use this information to leverage a better deal for the home or to request action to be taken before the contract is signed.
To avoid any unpleasant surprises after settlement, make sure a building and pest inspection is ticked off your list.
3. Prepare the money
Your deposit should be paid in full to the seller’s real estate agent or solicitor by the agreed upon date, which will be held in a trust account until the date of settlement.
Using your lender and legal representative, ensure the money is set up for a smooth handover on settlement day. This includes rereading your loan confirmation, knowing the payment amounts and dates, as well making sure the cheques are all heading in the right direction.
In Victoria, the buyer is responsible for any damage to a property after the date of settlement. To make sure you are fully covered, organise your insurance to take effect as soon as the property is in your name.
Some buyers rely on the vendor’s insurance during this period, which leaves them partially or totally unprotected from any damage that occurs to the property. Organising insurance early in the process will give you peace of mind when settlement day arrives.
5. Pre-settlement inspection
The pre-settlement inspection will probably be the most important inspection you undertake. It’s your chance to make sure the property is in the exact condition that you bought it, and that any agreed upon repairs in the contract have taken place.
You should arrange the inspection with the vendor’s real estate agent to happen at least a week before settlement day, allowing time for any necessary resolutions to be reached.
The property should contain every item the vendor agreed to leave. Take photos and document your inspection, and be sure to raise any concerns with the vendor before settlement.
You are only entitled to one pre-settlement inspection, so make sure you cover all bases.
6. Connect the utilities
It won’t be the most exciting task to do before settlement but it will be one of the most important.
If you’re planning to move in from the date of settlement, you’ll want to have all the amenities lined up so you’re not left in the dark.
Although our conveyancer will send a change of ownership form to the Water Authority advising them of the transfer of ownership, you will need to notify your internet, energy and water providers yourself.
7. Collect the keys
Arrange to collect the keys from the real estate agent or your legal representative once the settlement has been completed. It might be simple, but it will another thing off your plate when you’re ready to move in.
After settlement, it’s also common practice to change any locks, codes or passes so the new owner knows who has access to the property.
8. Say goodbye to your home
Last but not least, take the time to say goodbye to the home you have now. Moving to a new home is a big deal so reflect on the memories you have.
Gathering your family for one last meal at your old house is a great way to celebrate an important life milestone.
Staying organised and on top of your settlement will keep you stress-free as you start the next chapter in your life.