Selling a house – the conveyancing process explained

Selling a home is usually an emotional and stressful time, and can become a costly
process if mistakes are made. A qualified lawyer or conveyancer can simplify the
procedure and limit the risks involved. In this article, we look at the steps which a lawyer
will take when managing a sale transaction on your behalf.
The Contract of Sale
When selling a property, a Contract of Sale must be prepared before a property can be
marketed and shown to potential buyers. A Contract of Sale is a legal document setting
out details of the property and sale terms, including:
 The purchase price;
 Details of the vendor;
 Relevant information about the property;
 The amount of the deposit to secure the property; and
 Any special conditions associated with the sale.
When you first meet with your lawyer, they will obtain relevant information about the
property from you and undertake searches to obtain copies of common documents
which are required to be included in a contract.
Your lawyer will also discuss with you the fixtures and fittings which are to be included in
the sale of the property. A fixture is anything which cannot be easily taken away without
doing damage to the property and includes such things as built-in wardrobes, carpeting,
baths and stoves.
Once the contract has been finalised, steps can then be taken to sell the property. When
a purchaser has been found your lawyer will prepare a final contract, incorporating any
special terms and conditions which have been negotiated with the purchaser. A final
copy of the contract will be sent to the purchaser’s lawyers and your lawyer will liaise
with the purchaser’s lawyers regarding any further amendments to the contract.
Exchange of Contracts
Exchange of contracts is where the vendor and purchaser check, sign, date and swap
contracts and the purchaser pays a deposit to the vendor (usually 10%). Your lawyer will
attend to the exchange of contracts with a representative of the purchasing party.
Once contracts have been exchanged, the property is no longer on the market, the
purchaser has committed to buy the property and the vendor has committed to sell.
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In most cases, the purchaser has a period of 5 days after exchange of contracts within
which they can pull out of the sale by providing you with written notice. This is known as
the “cooling off period”. In some cases the purchaser waives the cooling off period,
particularly if all searches and inspections have been completed.
Preparations before settlement
After exchange of contracts, your lawyer will take steps to ensure that settlement can
take place, including:
 finalising and reviewing all documents required for settlement;
 communicating with the:
o purchaser’s lawyers – regarding directions as to the distribution of
settlement funds;
o mortgagee – to make arrangements to ensure the mortgage is discharged
on the date of settlement; and
o real estate agent – regarding payment of their commission and release of
the deposit held by them.
At settlement, all the relevant parties meet to exchange legal documents and transfer
title of the property from the vendor to the purchaser and to arrange final payment of the
purchase price. If there is a mortgage on the property, it is discharged at settlement.
Settlement commonly takes place 6 weeks after the date of exchange of contracts.
Your lawyer will generally attend settlement with the bank or financial institution which
has provided the mortgage over the property. You do not usually need to attend
settlement in person.
After settlement, your lawyer will notify relevant organisations that you are no longer the
owner of the property.
If you are looking to sell a property, a lawyer can assist you to understand the
conveyancing process and ensure that the sale transaction runs smoothly.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please
contact us on 02 9191 9293 or email