Leases

What are the Conveyancing Fees for Buying and Selling a Residential Property?

Buying or selling a residential property can be a stressful experience. For many of us, buying a residential property is the most expensive financial transaction we will ever make, and selling a home can also cause emotions to run high as we consider the memories we made while we lived there. Due to this, for the transaction is vital. Here, we’ll cover the fees charged by conveyancers and whether you’ll need to pay Transfer Duty on the transaction.

Getting Quotes for Conveyancing

The conveyancing market is an incredibly popular one, with thousands of property transactions taking place across Queensland every day. As with any professional service, if you get quotes from different conveyancers, then they’ll likely all be different.

However, when you’re buying or selling a property, there are a number of factors to consider, and the cheapest quote you receive may not be the best. Depending on the complexity of your matter, the amount you pay for conveyancing will vary and there may also be other fees that you need to pay. For this reason, you should.

When you’re asking conveyancers for quotes, you should not only ask them for an overall value, but you should also ask them for a full breakdown so you can understand what’s covered by the quote.

What Should the Quote Include?

There are multiple aspects to any conveyancing quote and you should be aware of these to ensure that your quote includes everything you need it to. Generally speaking, there are three key areas:

  • Professional fees – this is the time charged by the lawyer for the work they undertake relating to your matter. Whereas most lawyers usually charge an hourly rate for family law matters, most firms use a standard fee for conveyancing matters.
  • Goods and Services Tax – Goods and Services Tax (also known as GST) is an unavoidable additional cost to your conveyancing fees and should be included in your quote.
  • Searches – part of the conveyancing process involves your conveyancer performing a number of searches or paying for outlays (depending on the exact nature of your matter). Searches to some degree will always be involved in the conveyancing process and you should make sure that the cost of the searches you require is included in your quote.

If you ask for a detailed breakdown of your quote, you may realise why some firms are cheaper than others, as many firms will not include searches within their quote in order to make it cheaper. However, searches are an unavoidable cost, so you should make sure that your quote includes everything you’ll eventually have to pay. This way, you can make an informed decision about which quote is best for you and your matter, and you can directly compare quotes.

In addition to the conveyancing fees, you should be aware that there are other costs associated with buying a property, such as registration costs, inspections, survey costs and valuation fees.

What is Transfer Duty and Will I Have to Pay it?

Transfer Duty is payable on the contract when you buy or sell a residential property over the value of $5,000. Transfer Duty is paid by the buyer, and the amount you pay depends on the price you’re paying for the property.

Your lawyer will be able to inform you about what Transfer Duty is payable as part of the transaction and the transfer documents will be stamped in accordance with the assessed Transfer Duty amount. Should you wish, you can also use an online Duty Transfer calculator to check the amount you’ll be required to pay.

 

If you would like a quote for conveyancing on your residential property matter, then please contact our office on (07) 3343 9522 or (07) 5446 1745 or through our contact us service here. We can provide you with a detailed breakdown of the fees you can expect to incur.

What are the Hidden Costs of Buying Property?

Buying your first property is one of the most exciting moments of your life. However, before you make the decision to buy your first home, there are a number of other costs that you should be aware of. By being aware of these costs, you’ll be able to budget for your move and ensure there are no hidden surprises along the way. In this article, we’ve listed out some of these costs, so you can arrange your budget.

Property Inspections

You’ll want to arrange for inspections before you begin negotiations on the property. This way, you’ll know the state that the property is in before you make an offer.

Inspection reports can cover a number of things, including, building and pest inspections and pool inspections. The average cost for a building and pest inspection is $400-$600, while a pool inspection will cost $170-$350.

Searches

Before you purchase the property, a number of searches need to be carried out to ensure that all the legal information surrounding the purchase is correct, and to ensure that there are no encumbrances on the property.

In Queensland, you can buy property title searches and survey plans online via the government’s website. There are also a number of other searches to consider, including:

  • SmartMaps showing current information on property boundaries, valuations and sales data
  • Environmental property searches
  • Mining permit and applications
  • Vegetation property report
  • Title searches of other registers

If you instruct a conveyancer to deal with the property sale (which is highly recommended), then they will conduct the searches on your behalf and tell you which are applicable to your purchase.

Legal Costs for Conveyancing

Conveyancing is an essential part of buying a property. Fees for conveyancing vary, but if you’d like to discuss a , then please contact us.

Finance Charges

If you’re applying for a loan to buy your home, then depending on the type of loan you’re taking out, you might be charged a finance fee for your loan application.

Likewise, you may also have to pay a bank valuation fee, and if your loan is for more than 80% of the value of the property, then you may be required to take out lenders mortgage insurance.

Discuss all of these options with your bank and ensure that you know all of the fees and charges associated with the product they’re selling you before you sign.

Title Registrations

When you purchase the home, you will need to register the title with the Queensland state government. All of the information for the fees associated can be found online.

Rates

When purchasing the property, you may be required to pay the vendor for the remaining rates (these may be paid yearly or quarterly). You’ll owe money from the date of the settlement, and the costs that you pay will be individual to that property and that area.  Your conveyancer will work out these adjustments for you at settlement so everything is squared away.

Insurance

When you sign the contract, the property is at the purchaser’s risk.  If you are confident the contract is proceeding, very early on you must obtain insurance for the property.  This is done shortly after signing the contract, not on settlement. For this, you’ll need buildings and contents insurance to safeguard your new property against fire, flooding and theft. The amount you pay for this insurance will once again vary depending on a number of factors. For example, properties located on or near riverbanks will be more expensive to insure because they’re more liable to flood.

Transfer Fees and Stamp Duty

As the purchaser, you’ll need to be prepared to pay transfer fees for the property. For future transactions, stamp duty will apply, which will depend on the price paid for the property.

Removal Costs

Depending on how far you’re moving and how many things you’re moving, then removal costs could be a major expense. To help keep this cost as low as possible, be sure to shop around for quotes, as the first one you get may not necessarily be the best.

Changing Services Across

Once you have a date for moving into your new home, you’ll also need to switch across all your services, such as electricity, water, any paid or satellite television services, and have your post redirected. There’s normally an administration fee for this and, although it’s only a small charge, it can add up across multiple providers and is something you should budget for.

Hopefully, this guide has given you a good idea of all the extra charges and hidden costs of buying a property. Armed with this advice, you should now have no problem budgeting for your move, allowing everything to go smoothly. If you have any questions or we can assist you with your conveyancing, contact us.

The Benefits of PEXA Accreditation in Property Law

Property law governs the legalities of real estate and other property ownership. It covers a variety of areas including purchasing or selling property, rentals and tenancies and more. Having a legal team represent you who specialise in property law is essential. Having a PEXA accredited lawyer or conveyancer gives you specific advantages when making property transactions.

What is PEXA?

PEXA is an e-conveyancing platform with a large network of Lawyers, Conveyancers and Financial Institutions. The network allows the transaction of property to happen quickly, securely and efficiently. It carries many benefits for both the property seller and purchaser.

e-Conveyancing

e-Conveyancing is the process of lodging and preparing documents relating to property law, online. The PEXA platform allows the minimisation of paperwork and manual processes such as postal delivery. e-Conveyancing was originally institutionalised by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), and is supported by the network of PEXA members and its platform.

Benefits of PEXA for the Property Seller

When you sell property using the services of a lawyer accredited through PEXA, you have advantages that could make or break the sale. Firstly, the PEXA platform allows you to have increased certainty about your property sale. It effectively eliminates manual processing errors, allowing for document submissions to be checked online instantly. This increases your chance of the property settling quickly and successfully.

As someone who is selling property, it can be an uncertain process with many variables that come into play. Through PEXA and e-Conveyancing, you have the ability to have funds cleared quickly. Instead of waiting days for paper cheques to clear, your funds are processed instantly as if they were cleared. The platform basically simplifies the entire process of selling property, eliminated unnecessary waiting periods and automatically organises documents and important information.

Benefits for a Property Buyer

If you are making a property purchase through a PEXA-using lawyer or conveyancer, you have far more peace of mind on your settlement. You have access to see, in real time, when and what documents are lodged. They go through the same online document check, which will keep your settlement on schedule and allow for quicker processing times. PEXA allows for a transparent and easy transaction, where funds are cleared quickly and without extra fees or the hassle of postage and bank cheques.

You can also track the progress of the settlement and opt to receive instant notifications via SMS or email. PEXA is a user-friendly and easy to understand platform that offers a guarantee on the security of your sensitive information and personal details.

Life Law is a PEXA-accredited firm, that has access to its full range of benefits for our clients. Settle your property transactions with ease, eliminate long waiting and processing periods and stay informed and up to date with the important details of your settlement. 

What is the Conveyancing Process When Buying a House?

Purchasing property is an exciting investment into your future. It is a big decision and comes with a repertoire of legal processes to protect you as the purchaser, as well as the seller. You may have heard the term conveyancing used in the process of property transactions. But what is a conveyancer and how does it relate to buying a home? What is the conveyancing process? Keep reading as we break down the legal process of purchasing a house.

What is Conveyancing?
Before we go into the process, we need to understand what conveyancing actually is. Put simply, conveyancing is the area of law, or legal process, that prepares documents for the transaction of property. The procedure ensures that both parties interests are protected and represented fairly, as well as ensuring that the transaction follows the relevant legal guidelines.

The Conveyancing Process: Purchasing Property
The process for purchasing property can be quite lengthy. It is in place to ensure that everything that happens throughout the transaction is done correctly, so nothing is overlooked. There are a few things that can help the process along, including using a PEXA-accredited conveyancer. The process can differ according to individual circumstances, but follows the same general principles or steps.

The Contract is Drawn Up
After you have agreed on a price and have decided to purchase the property, a contract of sale will be drawn up, usually by a real estate agent. This will be fully explained to you by your legal representative. The contract will outline the terms and conditions of sale and can have changes made, or clauses added by your solicitor. Once every person has signed the contract (both you as the purchaser and the party selling the property), it is legally binding and marks the beginning of the conveyancing process.

Inspections are Carried Out
At this stage, there are a number of inspections that can be carried out upon the property to ensure its in the optimum condition for purchase. Generally the contract will include terms that rely on these tests coming back in a positive light. For example, a pest inspection and building report; these inspections ensure that the home is structurally sound and have no infestations of pests such as termites that can affect the integrity of the property. You may also choose to have a surveyor come to inspect the boundaries of the property, as well as arranging an inspection from the council, to ensure the property adheres to their restrictions.

Financing is Finalised
At this stage you may have completed preliminary steps towards a mortgage for the property you are purchasing. Here, you would provide them with the essential information on the property that you are purchasing. For example, the exact price that the contract was signed for, the address and any other documents that the financial institute may need you to provide.

Exchange of Documentation
At this stage in the process, important documentation is then delivered from solicitors, to the property seller and buyer. This may include the final exchange of contracts, the investigation of titles, transfer documents and more. Here is where your solicitor can assist you in ensuring you complete the most appropriate procedures and forms. If your solicitor is PEXA accredited, then the forms can be lodged online and the progress tracked instantly. Without this accreditation, you may have to wait for postage and handling times, alongside processing and clearing periods.

Settlement
Once all of the above is done and the fine details are sorted out between your solicitor and the seller’s, your new property is officially yours! A final titles search will be conducted, to ensure that the title of the property is in your name. Once confirmed, all of the transfer documents are handed over, the final balance to pay is given, payment is made and you can pick up the keys and enjoy your new property purchase.

The process may seem overwhelming, but having the support of a legal team ensures that you have peace of mind and a safety net. Conveyancing is very document heavy, but it is a process well worth investing in as it can cause repercussions into the future if the process is not completed properly.

Can we still negotiate our property settlement during the Covid-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 – Family Law

Can we still negotiate our property settlement during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The directives from the Prime Minister and Queensland Health are pretty clear – do not leave your home unless you have to, practise social distancing and self-isolation.  However, self-isolation does not mean that everything on hold for several months, in fact, there might be good reasons to use this time to sort out what you can.

The Courts are still operating and lawyers are still working. You can still instruct a lawyer to help you through negotiations and document any agreement you reach.  These documents can be lodged electronically with the Court and orders can be made.

From a practical point, you can work into your agreement any timeframes that you might need to consider given the COVID-19 pandemic.  For example, you might need to think about whether now is the right time to list a property for sale or split superannuation.  You can fix a time for these to occur later and work in a time frame that is appropriate in the circumstances.

There are other benefits, particularly if you are in a position to take advantage of some of the stimulus package offerings – for example, it may suit you to take advantage of any deferred mortgage repayments.

Matters can also proceed to mediation with most family lawyers and mediators offering services via Zoom and MS Teams.  These are great video conferencing platforms which allow parties to participate effectively, share documents and sign off on agreements reached.

Once you have reached an agreement there are special directives in place for the signing and lodging of documents.  Both the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia have authorised the use of electronic signatures on Court documents, including an Application for Consent Orders and the proposed draft Orders agreed by the parties.  This is a big step forward and will streamline the signing and lodgement of Applications before the Court.

If you are not sure about how your family law matter is impacted by COVID-19 or have questions about your family court matter, contact us for advice.

At this time lawyers remain an essential service pursuant to the Queensland Health directives.  This means that it is okay for you to attend at our office when required. When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement.  We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.

These in-person appointments are limited. Our preferred approach, however, is to meet with you via Zoom or other video conferencing to talk with you about your family law matter.  We have reduced fees available to assist you with obtaining relevant advice for your matter.

If you would like some further information about how we can assist you in how the COVID-19 pandemic may impact your matter, please contact us at 3343 9522 or mail@lifelaw.com.au for an appointment.

How do I file my family court documents during COVID-19?

COVID-19 – Family Law

How do I file my family court documents during COVID-19?

Dealing with your family law matter is stressful on any given day.  Add in requirements for social distancing and social isolation and it can be more stressful.  Not only are you potentially dealing children at home and chaos in the supermarkets – you now need to work out how to see your lawyer and sign your affidavit or consent orders.

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have issued a direction about how documents can be managed during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This includes your affidavit, financial statement and even consent orders. It is an extremely helpful resource and will be a relief to those who are unable to leave their homes.

A summary of the key parts of the joint practice direction are:

  1. All documents must be filed electronically via the Commonwealth Courts Portal.
  2. If a document is unable to be filed electronically it must be emailed to the Court for filing. The court will not accept hard copies of documents.
  3. If you need to inspect documents which have issued by subpoena you must contact the Registry and ask for permission to view the documents. Lawyers and parties should only make appointments to view documents if the matter is critically urgent.
  4. It is the usual practice in the Family Court (as opposed to the Federal Circuit Court) that annexures are not attached to the affidavit, just made available on the day of the hearing. Now, provided the annexures are not greater than 2cm in width the annexures should be attached to the affidavit and filed electronically.  If the documents are greater than 2cm in width, then you can contact the case-coordinator.
  5. This next point is a significant change and probably the most practical. Documents, including affidavits, financial statements and consent orders can now be signed electronically, including having the person signing the document type their name in the relevant space in the signature block in lieu of physically signing the document.
  6. If parties are unable to sign affidavits with their lawyer or a qualified witness, then the Court will accept those documents which have been signed without a witness and then arrange to swear the contents (confirm the truth) when the matter is next before the Court.

We have many matters where we are assisting clients to resolve their matters.  These new directions will assist greatly in being able to ensure that clients can efficiently sign their consent orders and other court documents which have been prepared electronically.

We have special processes in place to ensure that documents are appropriately signed and there are no issues of fraud or duress which may arise.  We acknowledge that electronically signing documents through programs such as DocuSign can have implications and we will talk with individual clients about our requirements there.

If you would prefer to attend and sign documents in person we can facilitate that. We do however understand the need to maintain social distancing and adhere to directives by the Government regarding social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.  At this time lawyers remain an essential service pursuant to the Queensland Health directives.  This means that it is okay for you to attend at our office when required. When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement.  We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.

If you are not sure if this applies to your matter, or would like some further information about how we can assist you in preparing your settlement documents or consent orders, please contact us at 3343 9522 or mail@lifelaw.com.au.

The full statement from the Court can be found here:

http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/rules-and-legislation/practice-directions/2020/jpd022020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) tips for your conveyancing matter

Covid-19 – conveyancing and property transactions

Coronavirus (Covid-19) tips for your conveyancing matter

If you are signing a new contract or already have a contract for the sale or purchase of property in Queensland it is important to think about how the Covid-19 restrictions may impact your transaction.  We have put together our most frequently asked questions to assist you.

With social distancing and social isolation do I have to meet with my conveyancing solicitor in person?

There are certain in person requirements necessary for all conveyancing matters.  The transfer of property is an area which can be subject to fraudulent transactions.  For this reason, the Titles Office has very strict requirements when signing and witnessing transfer documents.

When you sign a transfer document as part of your conveyancing process, there are strict obligations on the person who witnesses your transfer document to check that you are who you say you are.  The witness must sight (and as your lawyer, we also keep copies) of your drivers licence and current passport.  If you don’t have these documents there are a number of other combinations of documents which must be provided.  Unfortunately, for a transfer or any other document that gets lodged with the Titles Office, it is no longer as simple as popping along to see your local Justice of the Peace.

Other documents which must continue to be signed in person include your authority to complete your transaction electronically where all parties are registered PEXA agents (more about this below) and your transfer duty (stamp duty) declaration may be required to assess the duty payable on your purchase.

Ordinarily, these in person appointment to verify identity and sign transfer documents are likely the only time where we will need to see you in person.  At this time lawyers remain an essential service pursuant to the Queensland Health directives.  This means that it is okay for you to attend at our office when required. When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement.  We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.

What is electronic conveyancing?

Electronic conveyancing are transactions which are completed through the electronic conveyancing platform PEXA (Property Exchange Australia). PEXA is Australia’s largest online property exchange network providing a platform for conveyancing lawyers, banks and other professionals to transact electronically.  Documents are signed electronically.  Money is debited from authorised accounts automatically. Transfers are lodged and registered with the Titles Office. The benefits to you in using this platform is that the process is streamlined, title to property transfers quickly and remaining funds from the settlement are available shortly afterwards.  There is no delay in Titles Office lodgements which can take a few weeks and no waiting for cheques to clear.

How do I know if my conveyancing lawyer can do electronic conveyancing?

When you are signing a contract for the purchase or sale of property, make sure you do your homework and call your conveyancing solicitor to make sure they are PEXA certified.  If the conveyancing solicitor acting for the other party is also registered then an electronic settlement can be arranged.  At Life Law Solutions we have been managing electronic conveyancing for a number of years.  It is our preferred approach because it streamlines the process for you.

What happens if the other party doesn’t have electronic conveyancing?

For your transaction to be completed via electronic conveyancing all parties need to be registered with PEXA, Property Exchange Australia.  Unfortunately, you do not have any control over who the other party engages to do their conveyancing but hopefully, they have also chosen a PEXA conveyancer.  If they do not then your conveyance will occur manually and a physical settlement will be required at the conclusion of your settlement.   Your settlement will still happen as normal, there could just be some delays in the registration of transfer documents and disbursement of funds to you.  We will still do our part to make sure that the process is as efficient as possible for you.

 

Are there any timeframes I should think about when negotiating my contract?

The most important timeframe will be the finance condition.  Usually, this is either 14 or 21 days depending on the contract and your circumstances.  We would recommend considering a longer period for finance and a longer period for settlement.   With the current directives from Queensland Health, it may be that banks are experiencing staff shortages or a different way of working.  It is best to provide for a longer timeframe at the beginning of your contract negotiations rather than be worried about having to obtain extensions if the timeframe cannot be met.  Consider at least a 21 day period, but perhaps longer depending on your circumstances.

At this stage most searches are conducted online so we are not experiencing any delays there, however, there are some searches which involve an in-person inspection of records, particularly for the purchase of units or apartments with body corporates.  Allowing additional time here will ensure you aren’t seeking further extensions and that the information you need to complete your purchase is available to you.

Finally, consider whether you need additional time for settlement.  Most standard contracts provide for a 30-day settlement.  Given the comments made above perhaps consider a 45-day settlement if that is appropriate to your circumstances.

 

What if I can’t complete settlement on time because of COVID-19?  What if we have a forced lockdown and can’t settle?

Your ability to terminate your contract will depend on your personal circumstances and you should speak with your conveyancing lawyer about whether this is an option for you if you cannot practically complete your settlement.

It is important to know that in standard REIQ contracts “time is of the essence”.  This means that if you do not or cannot comply with an obligation you may be in breach of the contract and the other party may be able to take steps against your interests.

The REIQ contract provides for a “delay event” which can suspend a party’s obligation to comply with certain timeframes.  A “delay event” is defined as follows:

(a) A tsunami, flood, cyclone, earthquake, bushfire or other act of nature;

(b) Riot, civil commotion, war, invasion of a terrorist act;

(c) An imminent threat of an event in paragraphs (a) and (b); or

(d) Compliance with any lawful direction or order by a Government Agency.

A delay event does not include a pandemic however in the event that a Government Agency made a direction regarding a shutdown or compulsory close of business then there may be some scope to delay settlement.  You should always get legal advice when you are considering delaying, suspending or terminating your contract. Alternately, our office can suggest the inclusion of a Special Condition into the contract to allow for the particular circumstances of this ongoing pandemic.

I’ve lost my job – can I terminate my contract? Can I terminate my contract because of Covid-19?

The short answer here is – it depends.  If you have lost your job and that impacts your ability to obtain finance then you may have an avenue to terminate your contract on the basis that you cannot get finance.  This only applies if your contract is subject to finance. If you have already said that you have finance approval then you need to get some specific advice about this point from your conveyancing lawyer.

Many standard contracts do not include reference to a “pandemic” as a trigger for the termination of your contract.  You should review your contract carefully and talk to your conveyancing lawyer.  If you have not signed your contract yet, you should ask your conveyancing lawyer to prepare a special condition for you which will give you more options if this impacts you.

Life Law Solutions is an experienced PEXA electronic conveyancing law firm.  For enquiries about this service please contact us on 3343 9522 or by email to conveyancing@lifelaw.com.au. Our property team will be happy to assist you with your enquiries.

 

 

 

 

 

The benefits of electronic conveyancing during COVID-19

Covid-19 – conveyancing and property transactions

The benefits of electronic conveyancing during Covid-19

Our preferred approach for a number of years has been to complete our clients’ purchase and sale conveyancing transactions through the electronic conveyancing platform PEXA (Property Exchange Australia). PEXA is Australia’s largest online property exchange network providing a platform for conveyancing lawyers, banks and other professionals to transact electronically.

Following the directives from the Prime Minister and Queensland Health to practice social distancing and social isolation where required, the ability to complete transactions electronically is even more important ensuring that there is no need for a number of parties to be physically present at one location at one time to give effect to your settlement.

The two key benefits of electronic conveyancing are:

  1. practical efficiencies – with electronic conveyancing there is no need for travel and physical settlements, no need to go to be bank and arrange bank cheques on the day of settlement and no need to physically lodge documents with the titles office.
  2. time efficiencies – once the in person obligations are met, documents can be signed electronically on your behalf, money is debited from authorised accounts, transfers are lodged and registered with the titles office. These processes happen simultaneously and automatically so by the end of the day the property you have purchased is in your name or the funds from your sale can be in your bank account.

A further benefit of electronic conveyancing is the streamlining of simultaneous settlements.  These types of settlements happen when you are selling and then purchasing properties at the same time.  In the past, these types of transactions have been logistically difficult with various different parties involved. Electronic conveyancing settlements allow the automation of this process with linked transactions occurring instantly or on certain conditions.

When you are looking for a conveyancing lawyer to help you with your next property transaction be sure to ask them if they are registered with PEXA.  Provided both parties to the contract use PEXA authorised conveyancers then the transaction can proceed electronically.

Life Law Solutions is an experienced PEXA electronic conveyancing law firm.  For enquiries about this service please contact us on 3343 9522 or by email to conveyancing@lifelaw.com.au.  Our property team will be happy to assist you with your enquiries.

 

How can coronavirus impact your conveyancing matter?

Covid-19 – conveyancing and property transactions

How can coronavirus (covid-19) impact your conveyancing matter?

For many years conveyancing has been a traditionally paper based transaction.  After finding your property, you meet with the real estate agent to sign the contract, each party signs the original contract and then you begin your conveyancing process.  You fill out an application for finance, you engage your building and pest inspector.  Transfer and mortgage documents are signed in person.  On settlement day the representatives for all parties meet to handover transfer documents in exchange for cheques.

At Life Law Solutions our preferred approach for a number of years has been to complete conveyancing transactions through the electronic conveyancing platform PEXA (Property Exchange Australia). PEXA is Australia’s largest online property exchange network providing a platform for conveyancing lawyers, banks and other professionals to transact electronically.  Documents are signed electronically.  Money is debited from authorised accounts automatically. Transfers are lodged and registered with the Titles Office. The benefits to you in using this platform is that the process is streamlined, title to property transfers quickly and remaining funds from settlement are available shortly afterwards.  There is no delay in Titles Office lodgements which can take a few weeks and no waiting for cheques to clear.

When you are signing a contract for the purchase or sale of property, make sure you do your homework and call your conveyancing solicitor to make sure they are PEXA certified.  If the conveyancing  solicitor acting for the other party is also registered then an electronic settlement can be arranged.

How are Queensland property and conveyancing transactions practically being impacted by Covid-19?

Lawyers in Queensland remain an essential service able to operate through this pandemic. This means that we can continue to assist you with your transaction and where required you can continue to meet with your lawyer as necessary.

There are certain in person requirements necessary for all conveyancing matters, regardless of whether you are using the PEXA system.  The transfer of property is an area which can be subject to fraudulent transactions.  This sometimes happens where a person pretends to be another person and signs documents transferring property out of their name.  It is for this reason that in Queensland the Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy (usually known as the Titles Office), the Department responsible for the transfer of land, has very strict requirements when signing and witnessing transfer documents.

When you sign a transfer document as part of your conveyancing process, there are strict obligations on the person who witnesses your transfer document to check that you are who you say you are.  The witness must sight (and as your lawyer, we also keep copies) of your drivers licence and current passport.  If you don’t have these documents there are a number of other combinations of documents which must be provided.  Unfortunately, for a transfer or any other document that gets lodged with the Titles Office, it is no longer as simple as popping along to see your local Justice of the Peace.

From your point of view, whilst this process seems like a lot of additional steps, you would have peace of mind knowing that it is now much harder for fraudulent property transactions to take place, and that with each transaction a person is checking to make sure that the person who is signing the documents is authorised to do so.

Other documents which must continue to be signed in person are:

  1. your PEXA authorisation declaration. This form authorises your conveyancing lawyer to undertake the electronic conveyancing process on your behalf and must be signed in the presence of a qualified witness (Solicitor or Justice of the Peace). This can be arranged via a video conference in special circumstances.
  2. If you are purchasing a property as your home or first home – your transfer duty (previously stamp duty) declaration forms confirming how you are purchasing your property and allowing us to make an assessment of how much transfer duty you need to pay on your transaction.

Ordinarily, these in person appointment to verify identity and sign transfer documents are likely the only time where we will need to see you in person.  When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement.  We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.

For those transactions that are not completed on the PEXA platform, we can continue to progress the matter.  Banks remain open for the time being so we are able to organise any required bank cheques for settlement.  We will continue to follow the directives of the Prime Minister and Queensland Health in this regard.

Life Law Solutions is an experienced PEXA electronic conveyancing law firm.  For enquiries about this service please contact us on 3343 9522 or by email to conveyancing@lifelaw.com.au.  Our property team will be happy to assist you with your enquiries.

Are Family Courts still operating during the Covid-19 pandemic?

family court and covid-19

Covid-19 – Family Law

Are Family Courts still operating during the Covid-19 pandemic? My matter is in Court soon – how will I know what is happening?

The first few weeks of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic were a scramble for the Courts and family law practitioners.  Initially there were limits on who could attend court and then who could be in the court room at any given time, more recently a transition to no attendances at Court whatsoever.  The arrangements changed almost daily as the Court and family lawyers grappled with the daily news cycle and directives. We have settled now into a new arrangement with all duty matters generally being managed by telephone.  There are also special arrangements for trials to be managed by video conferencing.

I have a matter in Court soon – when will I know what is happening?

In the 1 to 2 weeks before your Court appearance the Court will contact your lawyer, or you directly if you do not have a lawyer and the Court has your details.  If you do not have a lawyer and you are concerned that the Court may not have your best contact details then you should contact the National Enquiry Centre to check – you can do this by phone, email or chat here – http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/contact-us/national-enquiry-centre/fl-nec

If your details have changed you should lodge a Notice of Address for Service via the Commonwealth Courts Portal to update the Court and the other parties with your current details.

If you have a lawyer the email from the Court will go to them and they should be in touch with you to let you know the details.

There are two ways that the Court is managing the telephone appearances and ultimately it will depend on the Judge.  You will either be allocated a specific time to call into a teleconference on the day, or you will simply wait for the Court to call when they have reached your matter in the list.  Hopefully most Judges will adopt the teleconference arrangements as time moves on.

What will happen on the day?

On the day of your court appearance you and your lawyer will call into the conference at the allocated time.  You are asked to keep your telephone speaker on mute as the court may be dealing with other matters when you call in, or your matter may not be first on the list.  Everyone will stay quiet with their phones on mute until their matter is called.

The Judge will then manage the matter in the usual way by asking for the lawyers or parties (where there are no lawyers) to announce their appearances and working through what is to happen on that day.

A further benefit is that there are cost savings for clients along with time savings, where you are not waiting around at Court from 9.30am for your matter to be dealt with.  You know that at some point around your allocated call time your matter will be heard.

It will be important for you and your lawyer to know what is to happen and make sure all issues have been dealt with before the appearance as there will be no opportunity for your lawyer to talk to you and check any instructions or details during the appearance.  The only way this is possible is if you are with your lawyer in their office for the purpose of the call.  With many lawyers working remotely, this may not be possible.

When should I call my lawyer?

If you have a Court date coming up soon check in with your lawyer to make sure you know what is happening and how the matter will be managed.  It is a good opportunity to have your matter organised in advance rather than leaving discussions to happen at Court – that won’t be possible in these circumstances.  Your lawyer and the other lawyer (or parties) will need to be on the front foot and work out the plan beforehand.

If you are not sure about how your family law matter is impacted by Covid-19 or have questions about your family court matter, contact us for advice.

At this time lawyers remain an essential service pursuant to the Queensland Health directives.  This means that it is okay for you to attend at our office when required. When you attend at our office for these engagements we practice the required social distancing and ensure that our office is cleaned after each engagement.  We also space out any appointments we have to limit contact with others.

These in person appointments are limited. Our preferred approach however is to meet with you via Zoom or other video conferencing to talk with you about your family law matter.  We have reduced fees available to assist you with obtaining relevant advice for your matter.

If you would like some further information about how we can assist you in how the Covid-19 pandemic may impact your matter, please contact us at 3343 9522 or mail@lifelaw.com.au for an appointment.