Settlement Agents

When buing a property there are certain agreements and contractural paperwork that must be completed before ownership is transferred. This part of the sale of a property is called conveyancing. Conveyancing is the process of ensuring that all legal obligations are met and that the parties rights are protected throughout the process. While you can undertake the settlement of your property yourself, it would be unwise to carry it out without advice from a lawyer. Sometimes there are complex scenarios and may traps that may catch the unwary unawares.

While lawyers are trained to provide legal advice, settlement agents are not qualified to provide legal advice, they will however, advise when you should seek legal advice.

So you can do it yourself or elicit the services of a licensed settlement agent or a lawyer to attend settlement on your behalf.

If using a settlement agent there are some critreia that must be met.

Before Using a Settlement Agent

  • Ensure your settlement agent is licensed to operate in Western Australia (WA)
  • Before signing a contract with your settlement agent, they must provide a written quote outlining their services and the maximum cost they will be charging you. This quote must include all fees and charges aswell as their commision, office disbursements and service charges.
  • Ensure you are provided a form called "Appointment of Settlement Agent". This form authorises the agent to act on your behalf and must be signed by both you and teh agent.
  • If someone who is involved in buying or selling the property, such as the real estate agent or bank that is lending you money suggests that you use a particular settlement agent, they must give you a form for you to sign that explains your rights.

Settlement agents cannot act for both the buyer and the seller unless both the buyer and the seller give permission to do so on the appointment form. You do not have to use a particular settlement agent because someone else has suggested or recommended you do so.

Information about using a lawyer

Lawyers must have a current practising certificate in law from the Legal Practice Board to perform conveyancing in Western Australia.

What to expect from the settlement agent or lawyer conducting your settlement

He or she:

  • ensures the completion and lodgement of documents to transfer the details of ownership on the certificate of title;
  • makes necessary enquiries, such as title, rates and zoning; double checks that all inspections and other special conditions in the contract have been completed prior to settlement and ensures that their client is satisfied that the conditions have been met;
  • requests funds to proceed to settlement;
  • keeps you informed about the progress of buying your property and lets you know about any problems; and
  • attends settlement on your behalf.