You’ve found your dream home. Perhaps it’s a brand-new development, or a house with perfect potential for a renovation. You’re excited to move in already, do you really need a settlement agent?
The answer is of course, YES!
Whether you are a first-time home buyer, or a savvy investor, purchasing a property in Western Australia without the help of a settlement agent is extremely risky. It’s essential that all necessary paperwork is completed correctly, and lodged promptly for your settlement to be successful.
A settlement agent gets you into your dream home quicker and, most importantly, makes sure it is done right! At C&R Law, we offer these services, and the added advantage of quality legal assistance to buyers across Perth, Western Australia. Regular settlement agents are not qualified to give you legal advice, however, at C&R Law we have a team of lawyers and are experienced in all areas of property law. We offer qualified, clear and concise property legal services at an affordable settlement agent cost.
Planning on buying a home in Perth? Benefits of using a settlement agent include:
- Verifying your identity as required by Landgate (titles office)
- Completion and lodgement of the settlement documents to change the details of ownership on the certificate of title
- Dealing with your bank to ensure they are ready for settlement
- Making enquiries and keeping you informed about the progress of the settlement
- Notifying you right away if any problems arise
- Adjusting shire and water rates and ensure they are paid up to date at settlement
- Checking that all inspections are completed, and all clauses/special conditions in the contract are met
- Ensure that settlement costs are paid at the time of settlement.
Check out this helpful fact sheet on how to choose a settlement agent.
What can go wrong if I don’t use a settlement agent?
The most obvious risk that lies with not using a settlement agent, is your property transferral being unsuccessful because of technicalities! But often the biggest risks to your ownership over a home are the unknown and hidden risks that exist at the time of your purchase.
A settlement agent can provide the resources necessary to protect you from these risks. Survey and boundary defects, registration gaps, fraud, forgery and identity theft, planning and title defects, outstanding rates & taxes, or illegal building work can all affect or cause you loss of ownership. The latter is an especially dangerous risk, particularly for those home buyers wanting to renovate. Illegal building work and unapproved structures pose serious safety threats to your family.
This horror became a reality for one Perth family last month. They were devastated when plans to renovate their property led them to the discovery that half of their purchased home had been illegally built and unsafe to live in. They are now forced to demolish much of their house which was built without council approval. Read more at PerthNow.
Unfortunately, with privacy rules, you are often unable to simply request property plans from the local council. Settlement agents can put in place contract conditions that protect the buyer, making the sale of the property contingent on all structures of the property being council approved.
How else can I protect myself?
Title Insurance is another important risk management tool used in conveyancing transactions. At C&R, many of our clients have benefited from Stewart Title Insurance, with some key features being:
- One-time premium payable on settlement
- No excess payable on claims
- No fault claims process
- Covered for life of ownership of the property
Read more about examples of title claims here.
If you are looking into buying a property it is important not to overlook the necessity of using a settlement agent, even if the seller of your prospective property is represented by an agent. You need to ensure your own interests are always protected.
Why do I need a settlement lawyer even if the seller is using one?
The answer to this is that settlement agents cannot act for both the buyer and the seller, unless both parties have granted that permission to do so. Even still, it is recommended you choose your own settlement agent who is solely providing conveyancing services to your party. This is to avoid complications of a possible conflict of interest and guarantees your interests are always prioritised.
From the initial stages of having your offer accepted, through to finance approvals and pre-settlement, a settlement agent will assist you with getting your contracts in order and paperwork lodged, so that you can get into your dream home as quickly as possible!
Download our Buyers Flow Chart, which details the step by step process to buying your property: