Frequently Asked Questions

* These FAQs have been prepared to give general information only. You should always seek specific legal advice in relation to your specific questions.

Conveyancing is the transfer of legal ownership of a property from one person to another. We will make the legal side of the conveyancing process as efficient and hassle-free as possible.

If you are selling, conveyancing will start from the preparation of the Vendors’ Statement (Section 32 Statement) and will follow through to Settlement and notifying the rating authorities of the change of ownership.

If you are buying, conveyancing can start with a quick check of the Contract before you commit yourself to buy and will follow through to settlement and notifying the rating authorities of the change of ownership.

A buyer is commonly called a purchaser and a seller is commonly called a Vendor.

Buying or selling property is one of the biggest financial transactions that you complete in your life. The consequences of making a financial or legal mistake during this process can be both costly and heart breaking.

By using professionals such as the team at First Class Legal to do your conveyancing and take care of your settlement, you can rest easy, knowing that your sale or purchase will be handled efficiently.

Both a conveyancer and a solicitor can help you with a straightforward property purchase or sale.

Only a solicitor can help you with more complex legal issues that sometimes arise during the process.

Conveyancers take much of the work and worry of buying or selling a home off your shoulders. In addition to managing the complex process of transferring ownership and ensuring that your interests are fully protected, your conveyancer will advise you of your responsibilities and rights and deal with any legal issues that may arise from the transaction.

A conveyancer working for a licensed conveyancing business can deal with a standard sale or purchase but will need to refer off any legal work outside the standard conveyancing.

A legal firm like First Class Legal, however, can handle any legal issues which may arise.

We charge a fixed fee for conveyancing. This means that we will quote you a fixed, professional fee including GST. This will be quoted to you in writing at the outset together with the estimated cost of disbursements.

Any costs that we incur on your behalf in paying a third party for goods or services used to help you are called disbursements.

In a conveyancing transaction, the costs of conducting searches for information about the property are the most common disbursements. These include: a Title search, certificates showing things affecting the property such as proposals for roads and recent building permits and agent’s fees to attend settlement.

If the property is affected by an Owners’ Corporation, a certificate from the Owners’ Corporation (formerly called a Body Corporate) is usually required.

A title search is a search of the database of property ownership maintained by state governments that reveals details of the registered owner of the property at the time of the search.

A title search can also show other important information about the property such as: rights or interests held over the property by the owner or others.

Searches are performed to include certain information in the Section 32 Statement (see below) and to help a buyer evaluate their purchase and to identify legal, ownership or property issues. The results also provide peace of mind that the property is not subject to any current or known future plans or licenses issued by government nor affected by inclusion on the registers such as: heritage listing or environmental management.

Searches also determine whether there are any Encumbrances over the title of the property that need to be addressed prior to settlement such as: Mortgages, Easements, Covenants, Caveats and any other agreements. If any of these are recorded against the title of a property you plan to buy or sell, we will inform you of your rights and obligations.

A Contract Of Sale of Real Estate cannot be signed until the Section 32 has been prepared and signed by the Vendor.

The Section 32 discloses certain information about the property including but not limited to:

  • the Vendor’s details;
  • the Title details;
  • information regarding building works done in the past 7 years;
  • information regarding Covenants, Easements and any other restrictions on title;
  • planning information;
  • details of the amount of rates payable;
  • disclosure of any notices or orders affecting the property; and
  • information on services not connected to the property.

It is very important that the Section 32 is properly prepared as a defective Section 32 can allow a buyer to avoid a Contract ie pull out of a purchase.

The General Conditions are the standard terms which are included with the intention of covering many of the most important aspects of a standard transaction. Since each transaction can be different and the parties may have different needs, Contracts may also have special conditions added.

Special conditions are included by agreement and can override the standard terms so you need to check the Special Conditions carefully.

We can help you with this either by checking the Contract before you sign it or by helping to draft the Special Conditions.

If you are selling and have done any building works in the last 7 years, you need to disclose these before a purchaser signs the Contract. If you do not disclose the works, a purchaser has the right to pull out of the Contract at any time up to settlement.

This is a complex area and you need to give us detailed instructions so that we can advise you properly but, in short, any work done to the property including: bathroom makeovers, kitchen renovations, pergolas and decks need to be disclosed.

If a building permit was obtained and a registered builder is named as the builder, then the works are generally covered by the builder’s insurance and copy permits and associated documents should be attached to the Section 32 Statement.

If a building permit was obtained and you are named as the builder OR no permit was obtained, then an Owner Builder Report should be obtained and provided to a purchaser before the Contract is signed. Depending on the value of the works, insurance may also be required.

Please Contact Us if you have queries about this. It is not worth losing a sale because you did not understand your legal obligations.

Buying a property is likely the highest value transaction that you undertake in your life. It can also be a very emotional decision and, sometimes, you may buy a property without doing all due diligence.

The cooling-off period is a consumer protection provision that gives you the chance to “cool off” from your initial decision after you have had a further chance to review.

During the cooling-off period (within three clear business days of the buyer signing the Contract), the buyer can change his/her mind and cancel the contract. There is a monetary penalty if a buyer chooses to “cool off”.

Cooling off periods do not apply in some cases. One situation where you cannot “cool off” is buying at auction (or within 3 clear business days either side of an auction).

Also, be careful that the “cooling off” notice is served on the Vendor and their legal representative. Do not just serve it on the real estate agent as this is not sufficient.

A property valuation is a central step to buying a home if you are needing finance.

A property valuation or market appraisal may be required for Stamp Duty purposes. We will advise you if this is the case.

When you buy a property, you will usually need to pay a State government fee known as “stamp duty”. Limited exemptions and concessions may apply in some cases. We can advise you about this. You can also see detailed information at

The amount of stamp duty is determined by the purchase price of the property together with any concession that you may be entitled to.

Please note that this information is subject to change and should always be checked with the State Revenue Office (SRO). The SRO website is comprehensive and even has online calculators for you to calculate the stamp duty payable and any applicable concessions. Please ask us for more information or go to

Briefly, some of the most common stamp duty concessions are:

  • First Home Buyer (this is separate from the First Home Owners’ Grant);
  • Principal Residence; and
  • Pensioner Exemption or Reduction.

Please note there are strict eligibility requirements for any stamp duty concessions. The SRO has a compliance department and penalties apply if a stamp duty concession is claimed improperly.

A Certificate of Title (Title Deed) is the record of ownership of a property. In Victoria, Certificates of Title used to be on parchment paper and show the whole history of ownership of the land. Now they only show the current ownership details and they are being converted to an electronic format.

Also, Titles must be surrendered at settlement so you need to know where your Title is if you are selling your property. A lost Title can be replaced (at a cost) but it takes some time so make sure your Title is safe and you know where your Title is.

There are certain different forms of property ownership that have been created as a result of the way we live and use property. Strata Title is a common form of property ownership and is most commonly associated with units or multi-level buildings.

Usually, owners will have rights and obligations that relate to the shared nature of common property such as: driveways, lifts and foyers.

There are several key dates, including:

  • The Contract date – the date when all parties have signed the Contract and agreed to its terms.
  • The “cooling off” period. This is the period within three clear business days of the buyer signing the Contract during which buyer can terminate the Contract without needing to rely on a term of the Contract. There is a monetary penalty to a buyer for doing this. No cooling off applies to an auction sale.
  • The Finance Approval date (if applicable).
  • The building and pest inspection date (if applicable).
  • The Settlement date.

Settlement used to be the day on which representatives of all parties including any banks met at a prearranged time to exchange documents and to pay the purchase price. So called “paper settlements” usually occurred in the Melbourne CBD. Stamping (paying the stamp duty) and lodging (registering the ownership change) used to happen after settlement.

Now, settlements happen electronically in Victoria and stamp duty is paid as part of the process. Vendors receive cleared funds at/shortly after settlement and purchasers are registered on Title immediately.

First Class Legal has been at the forefront of electronic settlements since inception. We have settled electronically thousands of times.

This is usually the choice of couples – each owner has an equal, undivided share of the property.

Joint Ownership or Joint Tenants means that, if one of the owners of the property dies, the property is automatically transferred to the surviving proprietor irrespective of what is stated in their own Will.

A legal document called an Application by Surviving Proprietor is required to be lodged but Probate is not required.

This is usually the choice of unrelated parties or people who wish to keep their assets separate.

It means that each owner’s share of the property (whether they be equal or not) is owned entirely by that owner and, upon death, it can be transferred to whomever they please so long as it is stated in their Will.  If there is no Will, then the laws of intestacy apply but the share of the property is still treated as a separate asset of the person who has died.

Once you sign a Contract to purchase a property, it is yours and the general rule of “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” applies. Consequently, you should do your due diligence before you sign. An aspect of due diligence is a pre-purchase building and/or pest inspection.

If you don’t obtain a building and pest report, you may find that your dream house is infested with termites or in need of urgent repairs.

Unfortunately, once the Contract is signed, those issues (as expensive as they may be to fix) are your problems as the buyer of the property.

A building and/or pest report is an inexpensive exercise compared with the cost of eradicating pests or fixing building issues.

You may not want to spend money on building and pest report before you are the successful buyer. If so, you should ask for a Special Condition to be inserted into the Contract giving you a period of time to obtain a building and/or pest report that is satisfactory to you.

Bear in mind that an auction purchase is unconditional so any inspection reports will need to be done before auction day.

During your conveyancing transaction and with any property purchase, there are a number of risks present which even the most stringent due diligence cannot guard against nor prevent.

To protect against these types of risks, you should consider a Title Insurance Policy. For a once only premium (starting at a few hundred dollars), you can purchase a title insurance policy.

Title insurance includes protection against several issues including: illegal building structures, fraud and forgery, misdescription of land, boundary disputes, easements and zoning problems – all of which can result in a significant financial loss.

For more specific information about title insurance, please Contact Us.

We recommend that a Caveat be registered to protect your interest as purchaser.

A caveat prevents registration of other interests on Title. (A Purchaser’s Caveat automatically lapses when the Transfer into their name is registered).

We believe that the cost of a caveat is well worth the peace of mind it offers.

Please Contact Us at First Class Legal, or call 1300 956 321, and we will answer them for you.

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Buying or selling and looking for a professional to handle the conveyancing process for you?

First Class Legal provide professional conveyancing services throughout Victoria. Buying and selling a home or property is one of the most important events in life. Don’t leave it to chance. Our team ensures peace of mind throughout the buying or selling process.