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There is a lot of fine print involved with buying a property and it is important to know the legalities behind purchasing a property before signing the dotted line.

There is a lot of fine print involved with buying a property and it is important to know the legalities behind purchasing a property before signing the dotted line.

Listed below are a list of legal things you’ll need to be aware of in order to make the process as stress-free and painless as possible.

Contact a conveyancer

Contacting a conveyancer will be one of the first steps you will take on the journey towards property ownership. The solicitor or conveyancer will be able to look after the legal requirements for you throughout the purchase process. 

Remember, that registered conveyancers specialise in conveyancing, some may also be qualified solicitors, however, they should have specialist qualifications in conveyancing specifically.

Although there are DIY conveyancing kits available, even transactions that look simple can easily become complicated by legislation and regulations. This can make doing the conveyancing yourself a very risky move. A conveyancer can look at issues such as local or national planning controls, permitted uses, heritage overlays and body corporate constraints.

Also, if you have any concerns about the property transaction, youhave a legal professional that you can go to who can provide guidance and advice

Understand the purchase process

The purchase process may be slightly different depending on what state you purchase in. For example, auctions do not have a cooling off period, which means there could be serious consequences if you change your mind after winning a property at auction, however private treaty sales are different. So make sure you know and understand the different sales processes before you start.

When you are borrowing to fund the purchase, you need to ensure that you have written unconditional loan approval from your lender before you exchange unconditionally on the property. This minimizes the risk of losing your deposit if your loan is not approved. Some people feel pressured to exchange contracts without this and so take on a lot of stress and risk in doing so.

Check the title

Most standalone properties in Australia will have a Torrens Title, but there are other different types of titles for different property types and these have their own legalities.

Property titles is a system for handling the legal ownership of a portion of a building or structure including units, townhouses, villas, offices, factories, warehouses and more. So before you exchange on the purchase of a property, it’s important to do some research first to make sure you familiarise yourself with the type of title held on the property as well as conducting a strata search. 

If it has a particular title that is out of the ordinary, then you need to tell your lender upfront as it may impact whether they will accept it as a security and how much they will be willing to lend.

Understand the paperwork

The paperwork for purchasing a property may seem daunting, but if you do your research beforehand and get the help from a legal professional, it won’t be as hard as you think. The process usually includes these key documents:

Contract: The seller’s solicitor will organise the contract of sale detailing all of the property’s information including the settlement date (often 30, 60 or 90 days). The contract will usually also include a zoning certificate, a plan for the land, a diagram of drainage and a Certificate of Title that confirms current ownership.

The contract is usually signed at exchange, which will either take place at an auction or after an offer has been accepted at a private sale. 

Settlement: This is one of the final steps of a property purchase to finalise the exchange. It usually occurs six weeks after contracts are exchanged (but the date is specified in the contract) and you will pay the remaining amount owing for the property. Stamp duty also usually has to be paid within 30 days of settlement.

Land transfer: The land transfer document is also usually finalised at settlement by your conveyancer.

Mortgage: If you’re taking out a home loan to purchase this property then your solicitor or conveyancer will liaise with your lender to ensure that they have the  documents they need to finalise the home loan and be ready to provide the loan funds at settlement.


The inspections of the property is just as important as all the other legal components. Building and pest inspections from qualified professionals, can find potential faults within the property that you might not have seen when you inspected the property. Although it might cost a bit it may save you thousands later on if issues surface that you were unaware of when you purchased the property.