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Your legal checklist for buying a home in Queensland

Updated: Mar 6, 2021

Buying a home is an exciting time, but remember, it’s a big-ticket investment. It’s essential to understand what you’re signing up for, how the process works and your obligations. We have put together some helpful reminders for you to check off when buying a home in Queensland.

1. Do your homework

If you’re in a position where you can take your time, it pays to give due consideration to a property before making an offer and getting the legal ball rolling. Where practically possible, view properties in person and ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I like the neighbourhood and street?

  • Does the home have everything I am looking for? Will I be compromising on any of my must-haves?

  • Is the purchase or guide price within my budget?

  • Does the home need any immediate work? Can I afford this?

  • Does the proposed settlement period work for me?

Make sure your finances are in check before making an offer. If you are borrowing funds, chat with your mortgage broker, financial planner or bank manager. Make sure your deposit is in check and you understand the approval process. A broker, financial planner or bank manager can also let you know if you are eligible to apply for any Government grants or subsidies, and help you choose a home loan.

If you are dipping into your superannuation, chat with your financial planner or super fund.

2. Understand the full cost

When considering purchasing a property, there is more to the house sale price than meets the eye. Make sure you know what you’re up for during each stage of the buying process. Costs usually include:

Before you buy:

  • Transfer duty (known previously as stamp duty).

  • Professional valuation.

  • Property inspections.

  • Buyers agent fees (if applicable).

  • Legal fees.

  • Conveyancing costs.

  • Search fees, such as a title search.

At the time of purchase:

  • Bank or mortgage fees.

  • Moving costs.

  • Utility connections.

  • Home and contents insurance.

After you buy:

  • Council rates.

  • Body corporate fees (if applicable).

  • Ongoing maintenance costs.

3. Consider engaging a solicitor

When buying a home, a solicitor can help you with a range of tasks, including:

  • Check your sale contract before your sign and the disclosure documents.

  • Provide advice about your mortgage contract.

  • Carry out title searches and explain the results.

  • Explain land tax and whether the purchase may affect your liability.

  • Talk through mortgage insurance and your obligations if you receive a transfer duty concession.

  • Liaise with the seller or their solicitor to fix any issues that arise in pre-settlement inspections, handle your final payment on settlement day and transfer the property title from the seller to you.

When engaging a solicitor, ask for a quote. That way, you’ll know the upfront costs and services.

4. Check your contract

When you make an offer, the seller’s agent will present you with a contract of sale to sign. The contract sets out the price you offer for the property, details of when you will pay your deposit and the date and time of settlement.

Don’t be pressured into signing a contract immediately. Take your time, and make sure you understand the terms and conditions. A solicitor can help explain your obligations and whether or not you require any special considerations.

Remember, a cooling-off period of five days applies to contracts for residential properties (excluding those purchased at auction). You can change your mind during this time.

5. Organise your conveyancing

Once you and the seller sign the contract, the conveyancing process will begin. Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of land to the new owner.

While you can consider doing the conveyancing yourself, you risk making a mistake and potentially losing the property or forfeiting your deposit.

When engaging with a solicitor or conveyancer, ask for an upfront quote to understand what services you will be receiving and the cost. When shopping around, understand the difference between both professions – a conveyancer has expertise in conveyancing, whereas a solicitor has a broader knowledge of the law (not just conveyancing). This is especially something to consider if your property sale is complex or contains more risk. A solicitor can advise on issues that fall outside of a standard conveyancing transaction.

6. Fulfil your obligations

When buying a house in Queensland, you need to understand your obligations. This includes insurance, finance, building and pest and transfer duty.

  • Firstly, if your contract is subject to finance, you will have a set time to organise your loan. If you cannot obtain finance on terms satisfactory to you, you typically have grounds to terminate the contract without losing your deposit.

  • Make sure you read your contract and understand the date and time you become responsible for the property. You will need to organise the appropriate insurance.

  • Most residential contracts are subject to a satisfactory building and pest report. If this is in your contract, it is up to you to organise the inspections within the required time frame with a licenced trade professional.

  • When purchasing a property in Queensland, you must pay transfer duty (previously called stamp duty). A solicitor can help facilitate the payment and let you know if you are eligible for a concession.

7. Final Inspection

Once you have ticked off your legal boxes with finance and building and pest, the pre-settlement process begins. This includes liaising with your lender to prepare your funds for payment.

It’s important to remember that in a standard contract, you usually have the right to conduct a final inspection of the property. This can help confirm that the property is in the same condition as you initially inspected before settlement goes through.

8. Settlement

A lot happens on the day of settlement. Typically, you will pay the remaining amount of the purchase price, receive the title of the property and the keys, and take possession. Depending on the sale, this can be a complex process. If you have engaged a legal or financial representative, they will deal with the seller and their representatives on your behalf.

When the final payment is made to the seller, ensure you retain a receipt.

Are you planning or are in the process of buying a property? Contact our experienced team today for a no-obligation quote.

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