I have been buying and selling properties now for around 10 years in several states and territories around Australia. I even had the chance to go behind the scenes when I was working in real estate as a Sales Secretary. As we were going through our recent sales I was wondering what are the steps that I haven’t yet seen? Being inquisitive I asked questions, and as a result of that and noting down things I learnt along the way I have put together a checklist that enables me to be pro-active when buying or selling real estate, especially if you decide to sell privately, like I just did.

I am sure that as with all things property, this checklist is a work in progress, however it is a great start I believe, so I thought I share it with you. Buyer’s Checklist & Seller’s Checklist.

There are a few points I’d like to raise for extra learning, which weren’t easy to show in a checklist…

Buyers

  1. Before you make an offer, get a title search on the property you are considering. This can uncover items that may but you off completely – like easements, sewerage, restrictive covenants or cause issues with the sale of the property – like caveats.
  2. If you are considering a strata property, make sure that you have all information on what belongs to you, what doesn’t. What costs are involved in running the strata and what do they cover. Some can be rather expensive for what you get.
  3. Engineer’s reports can uncover serious structural issues, so unless you are thinking of demolishing the site, they are well worth it.
  4. Pest reports, especially in tropical areas, can also find those hidden little nasties, like termites. This can be a good negotiating tool, if you want to deal with that sort of problem.
  5. If you suspect that asbestos is present, better get an inspector in.
  6. Make sure that you get the right entity name on the insurance documents, otherwise the bank will get you to change it
  7. Keep on the bank to ensure you get your loan documents in a timely manner, if not this can cause delays, which may mean you end up paying penalty interest. If you do get delayed and it is truly not due to the lack of action on your side, negotiate with the bank on reclaiming that interest, after settlement.
  8. Make sure that all special conditions, chattels and other conditions are noted on the contract at time of signing. You don’t want to get caught out!
  9. Follow up with council and water authority straight after settlement to ensure the account is up to date. This should be attended to at time of settlement, however if there was a delay, it may not be the case!

Sellers

As a seller, if you decide to sell through an agent, than some of the items on the list will be driven by your agent. It doesn’t hurt however to be vigilant.

  1. If you sell privately, make sure you are aware what documents will need to be included with the contract. In WA there is a form called Joint form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land. This has to go to the buyer when they sign a contract.
  2. If it is a strata property you also need to provide the Strata Declaration form, with a strata plan, showing what belongs to the property and what is common property. If you have any fees and charges involving the strata, you need to provide that also.
  3. You have to make sure that there are two RCDs in place and also hard wired some detectors. If you haven’t already done so before, you have to get these installed prior to settlement and provide electrical certificates for these. Your property won’t settle without.
  4. Make sure that you arrange the mortgage discharge at the time your buyer receives their finance approval. Contact the bank to get their discharge forms and make sure you follow up with them once you sent it through to ensure timely action.
  5. If you have the property rented then keep your property manager up to date with what is happening, they have to advise your tenants accordingly.
  6. Make sure that you have your documents witnessed by the right people, depending on the rules in the state or territory, these can vary.
  7. Make sure that you cancel all services you will no longer require after settlement, like insurance and power. Water and Council are generally taken care of by your conveyancer.

Whether you are buying or selling, be proactive so you can move things forward in a timely manner and so you can keep a peace of mind.