Buying A House

What happens when a Seller delays settlement?


In accordance with the 2018 Contract for Sale, if either party is unable or unwilling to complete the contract by the date specified in the contract, then either party shall be entitled to serve the defaulting party with a Notice to Complete.

This Notice will give the defaulting party 14 days to complete the transaction.

Much different to buyers defaulting and being issued a Notice to Complete, if a seller does not complete the transaction by the due date, while the buyer is entitled to issue the seller with a Notice to Complete requiring them to complete the sale within 14 day, they are not entitled to charge the seller default interest.

Even though buyers are not entitled to charge penalty interest to the Vendor for not completing on the completion date, the Vendor is still required to complete the settlement within the 14 days set out in the Notice to Complete.

If the seller has still not completed the sale after the expiry of the Notice to Complete, the buyer is entitled to sue and claim damages.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Christine Johnsen
Licensed Conveyancer & JP
02 4607 2105

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

eConveyancing: the 1 July 2019 mandate


Conveyancing is the legal process involved in buying or selling property. eConveyancing is the same process but completed electronically meaning the paperwork involved in a manual conveyance is substantially reduced. The transition to eConveyancing aims to transform NSW into the most efficient and secure place to buy and sell property. 

eConveyancing has been a long time coming and from 1 July 2019, mainstream property dealings can no longer be lodged in paper in NSW. This includes transfers, mortgages, discharge of mortgages, caveats, withdrawal of caveats and transmission applications.

Currently in NSW, over 85% of eligible conveyancing transactions are being completed electronically. This percentage is only set to increase as we reach the 1 July mandate.

So, how will this benefit you? So glad you asked.

You get your money faster. Funds are paid and cleared in your account instantly, on the day of settlement. There is no more waiting for cheques to be banked and for funds to then clear. With eConveyancing you have immediate access to funds from settlement.

Reduces costs. Some banks charge $10, even $15 per bank cheque required for settlement. With e-Conveyancing, funds are paid electronically, eliminating the need for bank cheques and additional expenses like bank cheque fees.

Safety first. e-Conveyancing is tightly regulated. Processes are in place to verify the identity of the parties and allow parties to electronically sign documents securely. For all those tech savvy people, the data is encrypted and the receiving computer checks the data to make sure it wasn’t changed in transit.

Less risk and more certainty. I was reading something not to long ago that reported 1 in 5 people surveyed experience delays to settlement. Delays to settlement can mean additional expenses and make for a stressful situation. With eConveyancing the risk of errors and delays is significantly reduced, giving you added certainty of a successful on-time settlement. This is achieved through electronic signing as well as better checks and balances through electronic channels. For example, there are no cheques drawn in eConveyancing, the funds are electronic. This eliminates the chances of cheques being drawn incorrectly resulting in a delay or even a cancellation to settlement.

Less paperwork. Sending documents in the post to be signed increases the risk of delays to settlement, particularly when documents are lost. With electronic signing, there are far less, if any, documents being posted.

Saves time. In order for settlement to occur, the Transfer must be signed. Electronic signing means you can avoid the hassle of printing, scanning and posting documents. You don’t need to make time to drop into the office to sign documents either. The Transfer is signed by your Solicitor or Conveyancer on your behalf, using their digital certificate.

Peace of mind. In the manual world documents required to transfer ownership to you are typically not lodged for days or sometimes weeks after settlement. With e-Conveyancing it is instant, giving you peace of mind. The change of ownership occurs on the day of settlement, with electronic lodgement to Land Registry Services. This also means Government authorities like Council and Water are advised of the change of ownership much sooner.

Moving forward, in order to complete your property transaction it is important that you ensure your Solicitor or Conveyancer is registered for eConveyancing.

At Coutts not only are we registered for eConveyancing as a firm, but each member of our property team has undergone extensive training and are certified with PEXA (Property Exchange Australia).

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Melina Costantino
Licensed Conveyancer
02 4607 2104

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

New laws give added protection for purchasers in NSW when purchasing off-the-plan


At the end of last year, new laws came in to give purchasers in New South Wales added protection when purchasing off-the-plan properties.


A contract for a property being purchased off-the-plan is a contract for the sale of a residential property that has not been completed at the time the contract is entered into.


In an off-the-plan contract, there is a sunset clause. The sunset clause is a provision that provides for the contract to be cancelled if the property is not created by the sunset date. The sunset date will be noted in the contract and is the latest date by which the property must be created.


Mr Dominello, the Minister for Finance, Services and Property said it best in a recent Media Release when he said “While it works well in most cases, we’ve all heard the horror stories when things go wrong”.


In summary, the major amendments to the Conveyancing Act include:

  • Founding minimum disclosure standards

    Prior to entering into a contract, purchasers must be provided with a disclosure statement, which includes a copy of the proposed plan, proposed by-laws (list of rules) and schedule of finishes (list of the inclusions). Penalties will apply to the vendor if a disclosure statement is not provided.

  • Keeping developers accountable for delivering what they promised

    Purchasers must be given a copy of the final plan and a notice of any changes (if applicable), at least 21 days before they can be required to settle. Additionally, purchasers can cancel the contract or claim compensation if they are adversely affected by changes made, after which time they become entitled to a refund of the deposit paid.

  • Extending the cooling off period

    The cooling off period under a contract for the purchase of an off-the-plan property is extended from 5 to 10 business days after the contract is entered into.

  • Clarifying the powers of the Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court can award damages where the contract is cancelled by the vendor under a sunset clause. The Supreme Court can also make an order allowing the vendor to cancel the contract under a sunset clause, but only if the vendor proves to the court that the order is just and equitable in all the circumstances.


The changes are of significant importance when you consider that 12% of all residential property sales in NSW are off-the-plan sales.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Melina Costantino
Licensed Conveyancer
02 4607 2104

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

What does a Notice to Complete mean?


You have been told you cannot settle on your Contract on the due settlement/completion date and you are going to be issued with a Notice to Complete. So, what does this mean for you?

Contracts in NSW will generally have an additional condition in the Contract stating if settlement/completion does not occur on the correct date then a Notice to Complete can be issued.

When you enter into a Contract to sell or purchase you will be provided with a settlement date also referred to as a completion date. This date is when you must settle/complete the Contract by.

A Notice to Complete can be issued on behalf of the Vendor or the Purchaser.

If, by the settlement/completion date, for some reason a party cannot settle/complete then the other party may issue a Notice to Complete.

There may be many reasons settlement cannot take place, such as the bank may not be ready, the funds for purchasing may not be available, or the property is not completely vacated. The Notice to Complete will provide an additional 14 days for settlement/completion to take place within. This is an assurance for the party ready to settle that an end date is in place and pressure is on the party that is not ready.

As a vendor who has issued a Notice to Complete on a Purchaser, it is at the end of those additional 14 days that you have the right to either extend the Notice to Complete period or terminate the Contract. Upon termination of the Contract you keep any deposit paid by the Purchaser and possibly sue for any financial loss/damages incurred due to the default by the Purchaser. You will then be entitled to place the property back on the market.

As a Purchaser who has issued a Notice to Complete on a Vendor, it is at the end of those 14 days that you have the right to terminate the Contract, get a refund of the deposit paid, possibly sue for any financial loss/damages you may have incurred and walk away from the matter.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Meagan Groom
Licensed Conveyancer & JP
02 4607 2102

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

What happens if I can’t purchase a property that I’ve put down a holding deposit on?


If Contracts have exchanged with a cooling off period, you have the option to get out of the Contract prior to the expiration of that cooling off period, for any reason.


In the instance you decide not to proceed with the purchase, you will forfeit the 0.25% deposit (the holding deposit which equates to a quarter of a per cent of the purchase price) to the Vendor. This is compensation to the Vendor for having the property off the market for you.


Working example. You entered a Contract to purchase a property for $800,000. You pay a 0.25% deposit of $2,000 to the Agent. Contracts were exchange on 1 November 2018 with a 5 day cooling off period. The cooling off period expires at 5pm on 8 November 2018. On 7 November 2018 you are advised that you will not be able to obtain the finance required to proceed with the purchase and instruct your Conveyancer to rescind the Contract. The Contract comes to an end and you forfeit your holding deposit to the Vendor.

For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:

Melina Costantino
Licensed Conveyancer
02 4607 2104

This blog is merely general and non specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever in relation to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.

Purchasing Rural Property - What you need to know!


There are many different considerations when purchasing rural property, in comparison to the usual block of land in the suburbs. If you haven’t owned rural property in the past you may not be aware of some of these differences.

Set out below are some additional considerations for you to be aware of before making an offer on that rural property.

Cooling off periods and Rural Property

A cooling off period is a standard expectation when purchasing property, however if you are purchasing a property that exceeds 2.5 hectares (6.2 acres) then the property is considered rural and a cooling off period, under legislation, no longer applies. This means it will be important for you to undertake all of your enquiries before paying any deposit or exchanging Contracts. In undertaking your enquiries you may consider the following unconditional loan approval if you are obtaining a mortgage, legal advice on the Contract, pest and building report on the dwelling, whether relevant approvals for structures have been obtained from local council or other relevant authorities.

Crown Roads

It is important to consider how you gain access to the property you are looking to purchase – do you have direct access to the main road or is it access by a side road? Is the property ‘land-locked’? If you access is via a side road this side road may be a Crown Road. There is currently an undertaking by the NSW Government to close Crown Roads, particularly where they are not required for public access. In this situation where a Crown Road is being closed the affected lot owners are given the opportunity to purchase the area of land to maintain access to the property. This may need to be organised in conjunction with neighbouring land owners. Below is an example of a property that is ‘land-locked’ being the area marked ‘85’ and the method of access is via the orange and orange and black sections. These sections are the Crown Roads.


The benefit of purchasing the Crown Road relating to the property is that it removes the need for an enclosure permit or ongoing payment of rent for use of the Crown Road and expands the potential uses of the land (as under an Enclosure Permit it can only be used for grazing). It is important to ensure your method of access is secured and you have an understanding of any ongoing costs associated with ownership of the property, aside from the usual rates.

Local Land Service Rates

accessed from

Is the Property over 10 hectares? If so, then Local Land Service Rates may apply. These rates are on top of the normal Council Rates and are specific to the land. As such your conveyancer will undertake enquiries during your matter to ascertain the applicable Local Land Service Rates payable and ensure they are adjusted on settlement. Local Land Service Rates are used to provide services to landowners as insurance against pests and disease and this can include:

  • the coordination of programs to control declared pest animals and insects, including access to baits, traps and chemicals, advice on control methods and assistance in forming groups to tackle pests

  • the provision of animal health services, including animal health and drought feeding advice, diagnosis of flock and herd issues and response to emergency disease outbreaks

  • the administration of stock identification systems, including property identification codes, brands, earmarks and compliance with the National Livestock Identification System

  • the local administration of drought and other natural disaster relief

  • the delivery of agricultural emergency management assistance for drought and other natural disaster relief (bushfires, floods).

Water Access Licences

Is the property connected to town water, tank water, bore water or pumped direct from a river source? This is a question to ask when meeting with an agent regarding purchasing a rural property. If the property is connected to bore water or water is pumped direct from a river source it is important to let your conveyancer know when you meet with them as additional conveyancing work and enquiries will be required in this regard. In these circumstances, it is likely there is a Water Access Licence attached to the property. These licences provide details on: category of water licence, duration of the licence, specific conditions, method of extraction and nominated works. If you proceed to purchase the property then the Water Access Licences will be transferred into your name the same as the ownership of the property so it is to be considered if there are any applicable water fees and charges which would generally be adjusted on settlement by your conveyancer.

For any further advice or legal assistance on this issue, please contact us at Coutts on 1300 268 887

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

Whilst there are good reasons for entering into a Reverse Mortgage, mortgaging your home can have a serious impact on your finances and the quality of life you may hope to live once you have retired. It is important to understand what a Reverse Mortgage is, what is expected of you by the lender and the potential risks involved by entering into this kind of agreement.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A Reverse Mortgage is a home equity loan. This means that it is a type of mortgage where you can borrow money, using the equity in your home as security. You can receive the borrowed funds as a lump sum, a regular income stream, a line of credit or a combination of these options. Generally, you are not required to have an income to qualify and you do not have to make repayments whilst you live in your home. You remain the owner of your house and can stay in it for as long as you want to. Like any other loan, interest is charged. The interest compounds over time and is added to your loan balance. You will need to pay for the loan in full when you sell your home, move into an aged care facility or pass away. This will include any interest or fees attached to the loan.

What do I need to consider before I enter into a Reverse Mortgage?

Entering into a Reverse Mortgage can give the borrower access to tax free funds for their needs which offer flexible repayments scheme, depending on your lender and the agreement. However, there are some risks that should be considered before entering into an agreement:

  • The interest compounds over the term of the loan. This means the debt can become quite significant.
  • The loan may mean you are no longer eligible for a pension or Centrelink benefits.
  • Interest rates are generally very high.
  • If you have to move into an Aged Care facility, there may not be enough money left over once you sell your house and pay off the debt for you to be able to afford it.
  • There will be less funds for you to gift to loved ones once you have passed.
  • There may be special conditions in the agreement – for example you may be required to maintain the property in good condition which may be difficult if you have health conditions which affect your ability to do so.

How can we help?

A Reverse Mortgage has the potential to assist the right person but there are many things to consider before entering into this type of agreement. Usually, the lender will provide you with many documents including booklets of information to help you understand what is involved in this type of loan. However, it is important that you are 100% aware of your obligations, the risks to you personally, the costs involved and what this agreement means for you as an individual.

We can answer any questions, help you with the documentation and help you to understand your legal position before entering into a reverse Mortgage.

For further information contact:

Carrie Alton
02 4036 3307


GST on purchases of property after 1st July 2018

Legislation has been passed to change the way GST is paid to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) in relation to purchases of new residential premises or new subdivisions of potential residential land.  These new provisions are expected to take effect on and from 1 July 2018.

This means that if the Contract has been entered into on or after 1 July 2018 then the new provisions will apply.

To gain an understanding of what type of purchases the new provisions will affect it is necessary to consider what is meant by ‘new residential premises’ and ‘new subdivisions of potential residential land’.

New residential premises

New residential premises are currently defined for the purposes of GST as residential premises that have been built to replace demolished premises on the same land or property not previously sold as residential premises.

New subdivisions of potential residential land

This term is not currently defined for the purposes of GST, however it is understood that the intention is to capture subdivisions that do not contain buildings used for commercial purposes.  In particular, it is expected to relate to land sold as part of a house and land package where the purchaser settles prior to the commencement of construction of the dwelling.


Notification by developer or supplier

The developer or supplier will be required to provide a withholding notice either as part of the Contract or no later than 14 days prior to settlement, once the notice is received payment of GST prior to or on settlement will be required.  This will be required in almost all circumstances, even where it is clear no taxable supply is being made, for example where a vendor is not registered for GST purposes.


When and what is being withheld?

Following receipt of the notice for the developer or supplier, if a withholding amount is required then:

  • amount being 1/11th of the purchase price; or

  • if the margin scheme applies then 7% of the purchase price,

will be required to be withheld and remitted to the ATO on or before the day of settlement.


Penalties for non-compliance

If the developer or supplier do not notify the purchaser then relevant penalties apply and if the purchaser does not withhold and remit the correct amount to the ATO then relevant administrative penalties apply.  However, if the purchaser is relying on notification from the developer or supplier then penalties will not apply.



What is the date on the Contract?

If the Contract has been entered into prior to 1 July 2018 and the purchase price (not including the deposit) is first paid prior to 1 July 2020 then the new provisions will not apply.

This level of exception will require all parties to be vigilant, particularly where there are delays in completion.



As the new legislation is finalised and brought into practice it will be important for all parties to take into consideration each transaction that may be affected.  In particular, Contracts for unregistered land with sunset dates and extensions to sunset dates that could result in the Contract to be subject to the new provisions.

For further information contact:

Coutts Conveyancing Team


Should I buy or build a house?


Everyone has their own reasons for why they might buy or build a house. We wanted to take a quick moment anyway, with the help of Domain, to list a few considerations for if you're torn between what move you should make. Once you've decided on the best path to suit your needs, your friendly local Coutts conveyancer will help guide you through the processes involved in finalising your purchase. 

Buying an established house

  • Usually requires a quicker process which will see you move in faster.
  • Land sizes are generally larger than what you will find with new builds.
  • Property location is more likely to be more central to established infrastructure.
  • Established houses are more likely to be purchased for investment purposes.
  • If the house is in the right location and if improvements are made, value may be added.
  • Buyers can establish fair market value with nearby sales data available in established areas.

Building a new house

  • This is a popular for first home buyers due to concessions available.
  • Less maintenance issues than with established houses.
  • New house designs are more likely to be energy efficient, delivering long term savings.
  • You can pick a design that suits your family.
  • Building can be a time consuming process with the potential for complications.
  • Building is a perfect option when looking for your forever home.
  • New builds are usually covered by warranties.

Have you made the decision to buy or build recentely and need a conveyancer? Meet your new conveyancer HERE.

I’m separated, can I buy a new property?

I'm separated, can I buy a new property?

If you have recently separated from your partner, you may be looking for a new place to live. You may find yourself chatting to a charming real estate agent who is showing you around the perfect new house. Before you sign the contract and pay the deposit for your dream home, you need to be sure that it won’t become a nightmare. 

Even if you and your partner are amicable, it is important to complete a formal family law property settlement to protect any new property you buy after separation. A property settlement will end the financial relationship between you, but until you do this any new property you purchase could become part of the dispute. For example:

Lisa and Michael were married for 7 years and have been separated for 10 months. Lisa meets Steve and they purchase a new house together. Michael then commences property proceedings and Lisa’s new house forms part of the property pool between her and Michael. She’s required to disclose details such as the address, who else owns the property, purchase price, and loan details. 

A lot of people may think that because they’ve purchased the new property after separation its none their ex’s business. However, until you tie up the loose ends of the marriage or de facto relationship by way of a property settlement, your leaving yourself open to a claim over your new property. Whether or not your ex is successful in their claim is a different story, but the cliché, ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’ exists for a reason. 

You should note that there are also time limitations which end the financial relationship between you and your partner such as:

  • being divorced for 12 months for a marriage; or
  • being separated for 2 years for a de facto relationship. 

It is important to a speak to a family law solicitor before purchasing a new property to be aware of any potential consequences, the ways to complete a property settlement - which doesn’t always mean going to court, and to see whether you meet any of the time limitations listed above. For more information on time limits when separating have a read online here

Need assistance with a family law property settlement? Contact Coutts today.

Conveyancer's top tips for buying and selling

Conveyancer's top tips for buying and selling

Here’s a quick guide to buying and selling from Coutts, your local solicitors and conveyancers. 


  • Make sure you have your finance sorted prior to making an offer, taking into account all extra costs including but not limited to stamp duty, legal fees, bank fees, land tax.

  • Ensure that you have carried out your due diligence on the property prior to locking into a contract. Consider carrying out pest and building reports, talking to neighbours, make enquiries with Council, arrange for your conveyancer/solicitor to review the contract.

  • Engage a reputable conveyancer or solicitor.

  • Ensure you have your deposit ready to go in the event that you end up in a contract race.

  • Ensure that you know what entity you are purchasing the property in. This could be through a super fund, trust, or as an individual or company.


  • Engage a reputable conveyancer or solicitor.

  • Make sure you have all documentation in relation to your property in order. For example, if you have a pool, ensure you have a pool compliance certificate arranged in order to avoid a delay in the preparation of your contract.

  • Ensure you allow enough time to sell and buy to guarantee that your transaction runs smoothly. Make sure the funds you are expecting from your sale are available when required, especially in the instance that you are simultaneously purchasing or in the event of selling an investment property where there may be tax implications from surplus funds received from the sale.

  • Ensure you are happy with the agent you engage.

  • Ensure you are happy with the price you have set. Consider if this is going to give you enough funds to be able to buy, and again in the event of the sale of an investment property, remember the tax implications of the funds you are to receive.

Need assistance with your next property transaction? Contact the team at Coutts to see how we can help and to learn more about our fixed conveyancing fees.

To buy or sell first? Part two


If you are looking to buy a new home and sell your existing home you've most likely wondered whether you should buy or sell first.

There are several things to consider when making this decision so you are best prepared for the journey. In part two here we'll look at things to consider when buying first.

Buying first


  • There is less pressure to just ‘get’ a new home so you can settle on time – you can really shop around
  • You have greater certainty that you will only have to move once
  • In a quickly rising market you may be able to achieve a higher sale price and secure a better price on your new home


  • Bridging finance may be required if you do not sell your existing home in time for settlement
  • You won’t have a clear budget for your new purchase
  • You will need to ensure you have a cash deposit sufficient to cover the purchase or be prepared to obtain a deposit bond

Deposit Bond

When buying a property, first you will need consider options for payment of the deposit.  The traditional method of payment of a deposit is cash.  However, when cash is not available like when your equity is tied up in your existing home, a deposit bond maybe a suitable option.

There are private companies that issue deposit bonds and banks can issue the equivalent being a bank guarantee.  Each issuing institution will have different fees and criteria so you will need to investigate these and ensure you comply.

Your conveyancer and mortgage broker can assist in this process.

Bridging Finance

When buying first your ability to cover the mortgage of two properties will be a main consideration.  Bridging finance is an option worth discussing with your mortgage broker.  Bridging finance loans have:

  • shorter terms of between 6 and 12 months;
  • fixed and variable rates are typically still offered;
  • higher interest rates; and
  • Lenders Mortgage Insurance may still apply if the loan is more than 80% of the total value of both properties.

Extended Settlement

As noted above, a longer settlement period of approximately 10-12 weeks (or longer if you are moving to an area where properties are scarce) maybe a necessary consideration.

The downside of an extended settlement is you may need to accept a sale price that is lower than you originally expected in order to sell in time to achieve settlement.

Contingency Plan – Conditional Purchase

A last resort to overcome the cons is to make your purchase dependant on the sale of your home.  As noted above, this can be negotiated be your conveyancer or solicitor.  Keep in mind that a vendor does not have to agree to this request.

Other Considerations

If settlement of both your sale and purchase have been timed perfectly there are some last minute considerations that need to be covered to ensure settlement goes well.

  • Timing for final inspection

When buying property you are entitled to a final inspection of the property within 48 hours prior to settlement.  This is also relevant for the people buying your property.

  • Timing for settlement

If settlement has been timed perfectly it will occur at the same time on the same day.  Otherwise, settlement may need to occur a few days apart to allow funds to clear and cheques to be drawn.  Settlement is most likely going to occur after 2pm as many banks have this requirement.

Do you have to attend settlement – the short answer here is no.  Your solicitor to conveyancer will arrange attendance by a settlement agent on your behalf.

  • Timing for moving out/moving in

So, settlement has been set for the same time on the same day.  Great news – you only have to move once.

Now it is time to co-ordinate moving.  The best option tends to be hiring a removalist with a truck large enough to fit all of your furniture and possessions in, in one go.  This will allow you to pack up and vacate the property easily prior to settlement.

  • Moving into new property including the collection of keys

Once you have moved out of your old home, you will be waiting for the keys to move into your new home.  In order for you to collect the keys , your solicitor or conveyancer will call the agent and let them know settlement has been finalised, this will happen within 30 mins to 1 hour of the set settlement time.  This call will enable the agent to release the keys to you and you will finally be able to move into your new home.

If you're thinking of selling first, have a read of part one here.

If you would like more information on the process of buying and selling please contact Kylie Fuentes our licensed conveyancer in Picton.

To buy or sell first? Part one


If you are looking to buy a new home and sell your existing home you've most likely wondered whether you should buy or sell first.

There are several things to consider when making this decision so you are best prepared for the journey. In part one here we'll look at things to consider when selling first.

Selling first


  • You are in a better position to negotiate your sale price
  • You will know what your limit is on purchase price when buying your new home
  • The need for bridging finance is less likely
  • You can plan ahead and extend the settlement period to allow you to secure your new home


  • In a quickly rising market your new home may be more expensive than you planned for
  • You may need to consider temporary accommodation if you have not secured a new home by settlement on your sale
  • Possibility of storage fees or double the removalists fees
  • If permitted under your contract you may use the deposit paid by the purchaser towards the deposit payable on your new home

Negotiating power

A main benefit in selling your existing home first is that you will know exactly what you can spend on a new home.  This will help you budget your family expenses and make the right move for you and your family.  By selling first, you also put yourself in a better position to negotiation the best sale price as you are not under pressure to achieve settlement on a certain date.

Extended settlement

In this scenario however, a good option is to have a longer settlement period of approximately 10-12 weeks (or longer if you are moving to an area where properties are scarce).  This will allow time for the cooling off period on your sale to come to an end and for you to secure a new home to move into.  This will also reduce the likelihood of needing temporary accommodation and extra moving costs.

Releasing your deposit

Many people looking to move on in the property market may be hesitant due to access to funds for a deposit, especially if your deposit funds are tied up in the equity in your home.  By selling first you can overcome this issue.  Ensure when your Contract is prepared that it allows you to use the deposit being paid by the purchaser prior to settlement.  By having this provision in your Contract you will be able to access these funds for your purchase.


If an extended settlement will not work for your buyers you could raise the option of a leaseback provision.  By doing this you effectively extend your moving out date until you secure a new home.  This is useful if your existing home is one investors are likely to be interested in as they will have a guaranteed tenant from the settlement date.  The details of this kind of provision are usually negotiated at the time of exchange.

Contingency plan – Conditional Sale

A last resort to overcome the cons is to make your sale dependent on you purchasing your new home.  Your conveyancer or solicitor can insert a clause into the Contract that stipulates that settlement is not triggered until you have secured your new home which will allow you to line up settlement allowing you to only have to move once.  Keeping in mind this may reduce the number of buyers interested in your existing home.

Contingency plan - Renting

If the above options do not suit your needs or your purchaser you may need to consider a short term rental until you have secured your new home.  If you do consider this option, when looking at rentals be very clear that it is short term situation and check what the termination costs are if you move out earlier than the lease expiry date.

If you're thinking of buying first keep an eye out for part two where we'll outline further considerations to help you prepare for the journey.

Ready to discuss your next buying or selling property transaction? Talk to the team at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers.

What should I tell my Conveyancer?


A lot of people do not know when exactly they should start talking to a conveyancer. The simple answer is, the earlier, the better. As your conveyancer, the more we know about your buying or selling situation, the better we are able to act on your behalf.

As a purchaser or seller it is important to remember that the smallest amount of information, while it may seem unimportant to you, can have a severe impact on your transaction. As your conveyancer we don't want to come across any surprises so it is extremely important that you communicate to your conveyancer if you have, for example, severe financial restrictions, tight time limits, or any other specific concerns or requirements relating to your situation.

To assist you in your next sale or purchase, we have prepared a short summary listing some of the things you'll need to tell you conveyancer in your first meeting.


If you are selling, be sure to make your conveyancer aware of the following, if they apply to you:

  • If you are looking at changing/have changed your name since you bought the property (meaning the legal owner on the Certificate of Title will differ from your new name);
  • If you are separating/have recently separated (in these circumstances, instructions will be required from both parties);
  • If you are getting married/have recently married (meaning that your legal name has or will change);
  • If you are re-financing/recently re-financed (this may hold up settlement of your sale – important for us to know right at the start);
  • If you are not an Australian Citizen/Permanent Resident (this is extremely important given the new laws regarding foreign purchasers and sellers);
  • If you pay land tax;
  • If you pay local land services rates;
  • If you anticipate your property will sell for $2,000,000.00 or over;
  • If a party to the Contract has passed away; and
  • If you are also looking at purchasing at the same time (and require a simultaneous settlement).


If you are buying, be sure to make your conveyancer aware of the following, if they apply to you:

  • If you are looking at changing/have changed your name (we will need to ensure that the name on the Contract is correct);
  • If you are getting married/have recently married (again, we will need to ensure that the name on the Contract is correct);
  • If you have a guarantor to your loan (this is important for settlement/mortgage document purposes);
  • If you are re-financing during your purchase (again, very important for settlement purposes);
  • If you need a 5% deposit to be acceptable by the Vendor;
  • If you need another person on the Contract (such as a parent or sibling) for the purposes of loan approval;
  • If you are not an Australian Citizen/Permanent Resident (this is extremely important given the new laws regarding foreign purchasers and sellers);
  • If this is your first purchase; and
  • If you are relying on the sale of another property to be able to purchase.

Whilst the above is not a conclusive list of what your conveyancer needs to know in your first appointment, it is a start. Before you meet with your conveyancer it is a good idea to have a think about how your situation differs or is special from what you would consider a normal situation, and be prepared to discuss this with your conveyancer.

Ready to discuss your next buying or selling property transaction? Talk to the team at Coutts Solicitors & Conveyancers.

The New Home Grant Scheme

I have many clients who ask me about the New Home Grant Scheme with government incentives for non-first homebuyers. Non first home buyers are someone who owns property or has owned property before. It pays to buy vacant land, new homes or off the plan … it pays $5,000! That’s right, for the purchase of vacant land, brand new home or off the plan, the government will give you $5,000 toward the payment of stamp duty as part of the new home grant scheme.

Here’s the ‘catch’ (you knew this was coming):

  • The value of the new home can’t be more than $650,000
  • The value of the vacant land can’t be more than $450,000
  • Purchasers must be Australian citizens, Australian residents or an Australian-owned bodies
  • Each purchaser is limited to one grant per financial year
  • For vacant land, construction of the home must begin within 26 weeks of the completion of the purchase
  • The grant is not available for the purchase of an existing home to knock down and build and a new home on the land
  • Doesn’t apply for vacant land or brand new homes intended to be used for commercial or industrial use

Provided you comply with all of these requirements, you’re eligible! What are you eligible for? It’s called the New Home Grant Scheme and it’s a $5,000 contribution toward your stamp duty. Sounds good to me, I mean stamp duty never looked so good for non-first homebuyers, so what are you waiting for? If you would like to apply for this $5,000 amount our Conveyancing department can help you apply.

Has this sparked more questions? Contact us on 1300 268 887 or click here to register for a call back.

*This information is current as at January 2015.