What exactly are you buying?
Technically, owning a property means having “title” to it. From a practical point of view, this means once you have bought your name will appear on the Certificate of Title (sometimes known as the title deed). Because most land in NSW operates under Torrens Title, your solicitor will register a transfer at NSW Land Registry Services so everyone knows you are now the owner.
Generally, when you buy a house or apartment in NSW you get one of the following:
- Freehold, which gives you ownership over the land and the buildings on that land
- Leasehold, which means you have ownership of the land and the buildings on it for a certain period of time (often 99 years)
- Strata title, which usually applies to apartments or town houses and gives you the rights to the internal part of your unit
- Company title, which is a less common way of apartment ownership. You buy shares in a company and this in turn entitles you to the use of an apartment
- Community title, which often works in combination with strata title on large developments and gives you rights – along with other owners – to common land.
What happens at settlement?
When you sign the contract you will usually agree to a settlement day. Most commonly this will be six weeks after the date of exchange.
At settlement, you will need to pay the seller everything you owe them to settle the purchase of your home. This amount will take into account any utility bill, strata levies and tax calculations that your solicitor makes.
If you cannot settle by the date stipulated in the contract for sale, you are likely to be charged interest. In some circumstances, the seller may even be able to cancel the sale and keep your deposit (and sue you for any additional losses).
You should let your solicitor know as soon as possible if it looks like you cannot make the settlement date so they can attempt to come to an arrangement with the seller’s solicitor.
Do you need to be present at settlement?
You do not usually need to attend settlement in person and most settlements now take place electronically.
Your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will make sure they have everything they need for the sale to go ahead. If you are taking out a mortgage to pay for the property, a representative of your bank (as well as the seller’s bank) will also be involved in the settlement.
Once settlement happens, your solicitor will call you to let you know you are the proud owner of a new home.
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