Buying a property

Buying a property is one of the most important transactions you will do in your life.

Set out below are things you should consider when deciding who to choose to help you with the purchase of property.

Can “disasters” happen if you don’t choose the right lawyers?

Yes. We have seen examples of people paying money to fix mistakes made because they didn’t use the right lawyers. To give a few examples, people have –

  • Exchanged contracts to buy the wrong property;
  • Bought a property without knowing it had easements and other restrictions affecting it;
  • Signed contracts which require them to contribute to the seller’s land tax;
  • Bought properties that have major structural problems because they didn’t carry out the right investigations before auction;
  • Bought properties that were constructed without Council compliance.

These problems could have been avoided with the right advice from the beginning.

Do you need to understand how the conveyancing process works?

Yes. We have prepared a Guide to Buying Property – a booklet in plain English which helps you to understand how and when things happen and much more. It also gives you a better understanding of the processes involved in the purchase of property so that you can be more confident in your dealings with agents, banks and others involved.

Won’t using any “lawyer” give the same result?

Not necessarily. Different law firms have different approaches to conveyancing. If you shop around on price you can find some law firms which are “cheaper” for conveyancing than other law firms. You should look behind that price to see what you are actually getting for your money.

In our experience the firms which advertise the lowest price either have minimal solicitor input (the cheaper price is often brought about by having inexperienced junior, non-qualified staff working on your transaction) or they are not available to advise you properly and answer all your questions. You should be able to make an informed decision for the most important transaction of your life.

At Bull, Son & Schmidt who does the work?

We have struck a balance between professional and support staff input so that your interests are protected. Our lawyers review your contract, negotiate amendments, explain the contract and the process to you, review and explain mortgage documents (if required) and supervise all stages of the transaction, and our experienced support staff run the transaction in the background from exchange through to settlement. (For more information on what we do, see below).

Our experience – how it helps you

All our property para-legals have worked in conveyancing for many years. Our lawyers are experienced and practical – we don’t use solicitors straight out of university, and we don’t use your conveyancing matter as a training ground for inexperienced solicitors.

Where does Bull, Son & Schmidt fit in the range of legal costs in the market place?

We are not the cheapest and we are not the most expensive. We believe (and so do our clients) that we provide a quality service at a reasonable price.

You may have phoned around to different firms asking the cost of legal fees for selling a property. Some firms give a telephone quote for costs and disbursements immediately. At first glance that sounds good but unfortunately conveyancing just isn’t that simple. To give a realistic and accurate figure for costs and disbursements it is important to talk to you about the transaction. To do any different is to adopt a “cookie-cutter” approach.

To give a specific figure for costs and disbursements without talking to you about the transaction is a fundamentally flawed approach. To give some examples:

  • What searches should you get? Is a survey necessary?  Is the property Torrens title or old system?  All these factors can affect the cost – but they might raise important issues which affect your decision to buy.

Having said that, we understand that you want some realistic indication of cost and we can set before the matter starts. If you would like to get an idea of the cost, give us a call.

Where do legal costs fit in the big picture of costs when buying property?

Lawyers are often the subject of public scrutiny when it comes to costs. Lawyers are also often the subject of jokes dealing with costs. (In fact, one of our clients’ favourite sayings – “it was so cold the lawyer had his hands in his own pocket” – comes from an anti-lawyer joke book in our office reception area.)

It is important, however, to keep some perspective on where legal costs fit into the total costs which are payable when buying a property. Your other costs include stamp duty on the contract, property inspections and searches, Land Registry registration fees, perhaps bank application fees, removalists and associated costs – tens of thousands of dollars.

In contrast to these figures, the legal fees likely to be charged are minor by comparison.

Our fees, apart from covering all of the legal and administrative processes involved in the transaction, also cover a lot more. We suggest good reliable people to do comprehensive building and strata inspections. We tell you what enquiries to make at the Council to find out about neighbouring developments.

We help by giving tips on how to handle auctions. We can review your loan documents and explain whatever you need to know about the transaction as a whole and the risks associated with it. When you think about it, we are the only ones who are there to help you through the whole transaction.

How can BSS help?

If you haven’t got a copy of our Guide to Buying Property booklet – contact us and ask for one. We can send it out to you, or you can pick it up from our office. It is free for clients.

If you have a property you are interested in buying – get a copy of the contract from the real estate agent and contact us to arrange a time to review it.

If you need any assistance contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call 02 9439 5299 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.