The duties of solicitors acting for both buyers and sellers are listed. Buyers must pay fees for searches, registration at Land Registry, caveats, transfers as well as Stamp Duty and solicitors’ costs. The Business Licensing Authority (BLA) handles disputes between agents and sellers or buyers. Arbitration is available for disputes but this course can be costly. Mediation on contracts disputes is less costly and the Law Institute of Victoria can recommend a mediator.
The duties of a buyer’s solicitor include:
- advising the buyer before the contract is signed about special conditions that are included and the effect of signing the contract;
- checking the contract and the vendor’s statement;
- conducting searches and making applications for certificates, and reporting to the buyer. The buyer is expected to examine the property;
- exchanging contracts with the seller’s solicitor (if a contract of sale is used);
- preparing the transfer of land;
- advising the buyer about finance and providing all the information that the lender requires about the title to the land;
- checking the mortgage documents and advising the buyer;
- preparing a statement of adjustments and settlement statement showing how the cheques are drawn and paid;
- arranging and attending settlement on the buyer’s behalf;
- lodging a notice of acquisition of land at the SRO;
- notifying the council and the water authority of the purchase; and
- paying stamp duties and lodging documents for registration (unless the lender does so).
The duties of the seller’s solicitor include:
- preparing a vendor’s statement and special clauses to go into the contract;
- preparing a contract of sale if one is used;
- exchanging contracts with the buyer’s solicitor;
- checking the transfer, statement of adjustments and settlement statement;
- preparing the statutory declaration about the value of chattels in the sale;
- arranging for discharge of the seller’s mortgages and for a clear title;
- attending settlement on the seller’s behalf; and
- notifying the council and the water authority of the sale.
If you employ a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer registered with the BLA (see “Conveyancing“), the fees and charges may be paid on your behalf and will appear on the solicitor’s bill as disbursements. Sometimes, the solicitor will ask the buyer for expenses in advance.
The buyer must pay:
- Land Registry search fees;
- registration fees to the Land Registry on the caveat, transfer, and mortgages;
- stamp duty on the transfer. Duty is charged on the consideration in the transfer. Check the website for current rates of duty www.sro.vic.gov.au/first-home-owner;
- fees for the certificates, totalling about $250; and
- solicitor’s costs.
The seller must pay:
- estate agent’s fee (which is usually deducted from the deposit);
- expenses of the sale, including advertising expenses;
- fees for certificates and searches necessary to prepare the vendor’s statement;
- solicitor’s fees; and
- registration fees on discharges of mortgage and withdrawals of caveat necessary to clear the title.