(03) 9720 2922

Jansen Walsh and Grace


What we do
We understand that for most individuals buying their house is one of the biggest financial commitments they can ever make.  We know that buying your home can be a very anxious and stressful experience.  We provide personalised service with up to date property advice for residential property.  The information on this page is intended to help you if you are buying your own home.  We have separate pages with information if you are buying an investment property or your superannuation fund is buying a property.

Special offer
We offer advice on your Contract of Sale before you buy: normally $275, but only $110 (free if you retain us to assist you with your purchase) or $150 for off-the-plan purchases (also free if you retain us to assist you with your purchase).

"I am buying a house.  Can hackers steal my money?"
The breach of security by a hacker successfully hacking the e-mail account of Sargeants Knox Conveyancing on 30 May 2018 and stealing money belonging to Dani Venn and Chris Burgess and transmitting it to another Commonwealth Bank account owned by the hackers was unfortunate.  There were three other frauds, two where the money was recovered and one which was not successful.  However, you must take it in perspective.  The number of successful frauds have been less in the new system with PEXA than under the old paper-based system.  This type of hacking, and a variant of it, has been quite ubiquitous in the United Kingdom for several years.  It has only started in Australia.  We expect it to get as bad as the United Kingdom.  There is also a US-based variant which we have encountered, but which we were successful in preventing.

Tracking the progress of your settlement
We can reduce the stress of buying your house by instantly updating you on the progress of your property settlement (we cannot do this yet if you are borrowing and the vendor insists upon using the almost obsolete old-fashioned method of meeting face-to-face in the city).

First home buyers
Land transfer duty has been abolished for your first home if the purchase price is below $600,000.  There is a concessional rate of land transfer duty on homes valued from $601,000 to $750,000.  This will enable you to put more of your savings towards paying off your new home.  If the home you are buying is between $600,000 and $750,000, you will still be eligible for a concession on duty, applied on a sliding scale.  The duty exemption and duty concession applies to both new and established homes.  Australian Defence Force personnel are exempt from the residence requirements for the first home buyer duty exemption and concession on all transfers from 1 July 2018.

Principal place of residence concession
Even if you are not a first home owner, you are entitled to a concession on land transfer duty on a sliding scale if:
1.   the property is valued up to $550,000;
2.   you use the property as your principal place of residence within 12 months after settlement;
3.   you reside in the property as your principal place of residence for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

If you are borrowing to fund part of the purchase price, your lender will calculate the land transfer duty and the transfer registration fee.  However, you can calculate the land transfer duty and the transfer registration fee, if you wish.  It does not deal with off-the-plan purchases.

Effect of the royal commission into banking industry
Since 1 May 2018, we have seen the banks' credit departments take much longer to approve loans, and, in addition, they are now applying stricter lending criteria.  This is a consequence of the hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.  For this reason, we advise you to consider whether you should make your purchase subject to finance for a period longer than the usual 10 days and to extend the time for settlement until 60 days.  The usual 30 days might not be time enough for your lender.  Delays in loan approvals have also delayed building starts.

Withholding GST
If you are purchasing a new residential premises, you, the purchaser, will have to pay one-eleventh (or 7% for margin schemes) of the sale price to the Australian Taxation Office where settlement of a Contract of Sale of land which occurs on or after 1 July 2018, even if the contract was entered into before that date, but subject to the exception for existing contracts entered into before 1 July 2018 where settlement takes place before 1 July 2020.  The vendor is entitled to a GST credit for an amount withheld by the purchaser from the contract consideration but only if and when the purchaser pays the withheld amount to the Commissioner.

Buying off-the-plan
Watch out!  Several of our clients have purchased from developers selling properties off-the-plan in order to show the pre-sales to the bank to get finance.   Once the developer gets finance and the dwellings are almost finished, they delay registration and use the "get out of jail" card in the Contract of Sale to terminate the contract and resell the same property at a higher price, often to the same purchaser, who must sign a new Contract of Sale to re-purchase the same property at a higher price.  Most contracts also allow the developer to make certain changes to the plan and you cannot object or complain.  Although only a minority of developers are rogues, the finished product often does not look as attractive as the photographs in the showroom.

Warning about paying Vendor's legal costs
Watch out!  Some vendors are tricking purchasers into unknowingly agreeing to pay part of the vendor's legal costs by disguising it in a special condition in the Contract of Sale.

We have also seen contracts signed by purchasers which allow the licensed conveyancer for the vendor to charge $1,150 for a default notice.  This is more than a lawyer would be allowed to charge and it is more than the major law firms charge for a default notice.  If you think this won't happen to you because you won't default, think again.  If you have a lender, then there is a real risk you will default.  A large number of banks, presumably because of the workload or because they do not have sufficient trained staff, are not ready to realise the funds for settlement.  When that occurs, you will be in default.

Our advice: don't pay 16% interest to the vendor
We also see many contracts in which the vendor is entitled to charge the purchaser 16% per annum for each day of default. This is higher than the standard rate, which is currently 12% per annum.  As mentioned, you could default because your lender is not ready on the settlement date.  Tell the selling agent you want it reduced before you will sign the Contract of Sale.

Measurement of land  — what you must do before you sign
A copy of the title for the property will be attached to the Vendor Statement along with a diagram showing its measurements.  It is important that you check these before you sign the contract.  If you subsequently discover that the measurements of the land do not match those shown on the title diagram, there may be nothing you can do about.  Where there is any doubt, a surveyor should be engaged before you sign.

Building — what you must do before you sign
Another matter that should be checked before you sign the contract is the physical condition of any buildings on the property. There is unlikely to be any remedy against the vendor if you find out after you sign that the buildings have been constructed illegally, are infested by termites or defective in some other way.  The selling agent will tell you that you can have it subject to satisfactory building and pest inspection reports.  However, if you have already signed, then your rights are much more restricted.  The safest course of action is to have building and pest inspection reports before you sign the contract. 

Borrowing to fund your purchase — what you must do before you sign
If you are borrowing in order to fund part of the purchase price, you should make the contract subject to finance.

Asbestos — what you must do before you sign
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.  If any building was constructed before 2004, you may care to obtain a building report as to whether the construction materials included asbestos.

Rubbish — what you must do before you sign
Sometimes the vendors leave the property in a poor state and you must clean up the rubbish and remove the old tyres at your own expense.  We suggest that the contract include a special condition that the vendors have an obligation to remove all old tyres, rubbish, etc at their own expense at settlement. 

Inspection of property before settlement
The agent will contact you to arrange a time for you to inspect the property before settlement.  That will happen a few days before the settlement.