PUBLISHED IN DOWNTOWN MAGAZINE HOMES, ISSUE 2
With the right help, buying and selling property shouldn’t send you into a frenzy. You need to surround yourself with experienced advisors who have your best interests at heart. People you respect and trust to help guide you through the process and who can sweat the small stuff for you.
I once read an article that listed purchasing or selling a property as a significantly stressful life event. There, in black and white, the process of ‘purchasing a house’ sat rubbing shoulders with the most impossible of losses. Losing a loved one, divorce, losing your job and buying/selling property. Really, could this be so? And, if it is, surely as an industry we can do much better.
The reality is that buying or selling property is something you might do a handful of times in your lifetime. You shouldn’t be expected to know the ins and outs of the process – that’s our job, after all.
After 20 years in the property law game, let me offer a few tips and tricks to help you set your expectations, balance your nerves and make the process a whole lot simpler – maybe even a little fun! .
THE PROCESS TAKES TIME
An executor is the person you ask to take on the responsibility to carry out your wishes after you die. Put simply, the executor makes sure your debts are paid and your assets go where you want them to.
CAN I APPOINT A GUARDIAN FOR MY CHILDREN IN MY WILL?
We know processes, systems, check lists and timeframes can seem like a massive ‘kill-joy’, particularly off the back of bagging your dream home. But as experienced property lawyers, it’s important that together we take the time to thoroughly step through the process, so that your best interests are protected.
The process of transferring property from one party to another is a precise art – a highly choreographed legal dance between buyers, sellers, property lawyers, lenders, agents and multiple government agencies to make sure your asset is protected. With such high stakes, it’s important to know from the get-go that the process will take time.
Even if you are a cash purchaser and have negotiated a faster settlement, how quickly the transfer occurs is dependent on lots of moving parts and will take time to negotiate and coordinate.
It’s important not to rush this part of your purchase or sale. You want all your ‘t’s crossed and ‘i’s dotted. Pushing through a settlement may save you some time, but could end up costing you a bunch more if the required due diligence hasn’t been taken.
COVER YOUR BASES
Purchasing a property is a big deal. For most of us, investing our hard-earned cash into bricks and mortar is a rite of passage.
With so much at stake, it’s important to make sure your investment is protected and that you know exactly what you’re buying. If you are buying property, the four reports we encourage you to get and inspect include:
These reports will ensure there is nothing on the site that you don’t expect to be there such as illegal building work or changes to boundary lines that have occurred over time.
Knowing the ins and outs of the property also provides you with an opportunity to leverage price, should things not be up to standard. It safeguards you from taking on a property with major deficiencies, structural or otherwise. And when it comes to purchasing property, the term ‘buyer beware’ applies – so it’s best to do your homework.
HAVE YOUR ID READY
Even if your property lawyer has known you for many years, they will still ask to sight your original, current identification. We are required, under law to have certified identification on file which proves you are who you say you are.
We will ask you to provide your original birth certificate or valid passport, current drivers licence, and Medicare card at the first meeting. These will all need to be original documents. If your name has changed due to marriage, we will also need to see your original marriage certificate. It’s important to stress that copies won’t do. And here’s why:
I remember reading this one case where a couple were holidaying overseas. Whilst they were sipping Mimosa’s beachside, someone broke into their home and stole the original Certificate of Title for the property from an unlocked filing cabinet. These savvy robbers then posed as the owners of the property, leveraged off some poor ID certification processes and successfully sold the home right from under the owners. Scary stuff!
Interestingly, apart from gaining unconditional loan approval, providing original identification (particularly an original birth certificate) is one of the major reasons exchange can be delayed. But, it is an easy fix. If you are planning to buy or sell a property, make sure you have valid, original identification nice and handy.
CHAT WITH YOUR ACCOUNTANT
When you are purchasing a property, getting independent financial advice about how you structure your purchase could pay off in the long run. This particularly rings true if you are purchasing the property as an investment or to flip.
We always encourage our clients to chat with their accountant about the ownership structure of their purchase to make sure the structure is the right fit and takes the best advantage of tax deductions available. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box.
Your accountant may recommend you purchase a property on your own, under a company, trust or in joint names (and in unequal shares) to make the most of tax offsets available to you.
Having a chat with your account is well worth the effort and could save you a bucket in tax liabilities, now and in the future.
FIRM UP YOUR LOAN
In our strange COVID 19 reality, we are seeing a new kind of normal when it comes to securing a home loan. Banks, just like all of us, are adjusting the way they do business and lenders are needing more time to process loan applications and taking longer to release funds for settlement.
With this in mind, we recommend you speak with your lender before you start the property hunt. Your lender can be a useful ally when it comes to establishing your property search guidelines, particularly with setting a budget you can afford.
If you have found the perfect property but still need to tee up your loan, it’s best to make sure your agent acknowledges that your offer is dependent on finance approval.
At the end of the day, with the right help, buying and selling property shouldn’t send you into a frenzy. Make sure you surround yourself with experienced advisors who have your best interests at heart. People you respect and trust to help guide you through the process and who can sweat the small stuff for you.
Who knows, with the right support and planning, you may even find the process incredibly empowering, freeing and exciting. Love it or list it anyone?