Planning for settlement day when selling
There are a number of things you need to do before settlement day to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Summary of important things to know
You must make the property available to the buyer for a pre-settlement inspection, unless the property is being sold with a tenancy in place. Your agent will help the buyer arrange this.
You must ensure there are no outstanding charges on the property and that all chattels are owned by you.
Your property must be vacant on settlement date – unless you have a tenant and the buyer has agreed they can stay on. This will be stated in the sale and purchase agreement.
Property settlement is largely a legal process. Your lawyer or conveyancer will help you.
The information on this page may not cover everything you need to know. You should always get advice from your own lawyer or conveyancer.
The pre-settlement inspection is a chance for the buyer to check that the property and chattels are in the same condition they were when they signed the sale and purchase agreement, and that you have met any conditions listed in the agreement. If there is any significant damage or if a condition has not been met, the buyer may be entitled to compensation from you. The inspection is not an opportunity for the buyer to uncover problems that already existed when they signed the sale and purchase agreement.
The pre-settlement inspection is usually at least 2 working days before the settlement date so there is time for any issues to be addressed.
If the property is being sold with a tenancy that will continue when the buyer takes over the property, the buyer may not be entitled to a pre-settlement inspection. If the tenancy will end before or on settlement day, the buyer should have the right to an inspection. You will have to get your tenant's consent to show the buyer the property and give the tenants a reasonable amount of notice.
Note that standard sale and purchase agreements require you to remove rubbish and any chattels not included in the sale and purchase agreement before settlement.
Things the buyer may look for in the pre-settlement inspection
The buyer is likely to:
- check that the property is in the same condition as it was when they signed the sale and purchase agreement
- make sure that all the chattels listed on the sale and purchase agreement are in the property and are in good working order (unless it has been agreed and documented otherwise)
- check that fixtures such as lights work too
- check if there is any property damage since the sale and purchase agreement was signed, for example storm or earthquake damage, or damage caused when the previous occupants moved out
- check you have completed any maintenance or repairs to the property that you agreed to as part of the sale and purchase agreement conditions
- check all the previous occupant's belongings (not included in the sale) and rubbish have been removed from the property
- make sure all keys, garage door remotes and security alarm codes are accounted for and will be available to them on settlement day.
It’s a good idea to refer to the sale and purchase agreement for details of any conditions and chattels.
If there are issues during the pre-settlement inspection
If the buyer finds damage during their pre-settlement inspection (that wasn’t present when they signed the sale and purchase agreement) or if a chattel is missing, this could delay settlement. Your agent will outline your options and can negotiate with the buyer’s lawyer or conveyancer to rectify the situation.
You can choose to fix any damage immediately, or you may agree that the cost of fixing the issue can be deducted from the final payment the buyer makes.
Having the final inspection at least 48 hours before settlement gives you and the buyer time to reach agreement about any issues.
- The buyer’s deposit is usually paid to your agent’s trust account when the sale and purchase agreement is signed or when the agreement goes unconditional. The agent will deduct their commission fee from the deposit.
- You must make sure all charges on the property are fully paid, including electricity, gas and rates. Rates charges can be passed on to the buyer if these have been paid in advance.
- Make sure there is no money owing on any chattels listed in the sale and purchase agreement.
- If your property is rented and your tenant is staying on under the new ownership, you must notify the tenant and transfer the bond to the buyer. You must provide the buyer with a copy of the tenancy agreement. You are only entitled to collect rent up to settlement day, so if your tenant has paid you rent in advance, you will need to pass this on to the buyer.
You are responsible for the property and chattels and insurance of these until settlement day. You can cancel your insurance after settlement day when the buyer’s insurance cover will begin.
Your support team
Your lawyer or conveyancer will help
Your lawyer or conveyancer will work with the buyer’s lawyer or conveyancer to make sure all the paperwork and payments are completed on settlement day. You will need to visit your lawyer or conveyancer before settlement to sign an authority for your lawyer or conveyancer to transfer the certificate of title. You will also need to provide information about your tax status and may need to sign a form about this.
Your agent's role
Your agent will answer any questions you have about settlement and what you must do before settlement day.
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Other things to do before settlement day
- Book a moving company, if you are using one, and plan the actual move.
- Think about care for children and pets on the day.
- We recommend planning the move before settlement to make things less stressful on the day. If there are any delays and the property isn’t vacant on settlement day, you may be liable to pay compensation to the buyer.
- Your property must be left tidy with all rubbish removed. Check the sale and purchase agreement for any additional requirements about cleaning.
- Arrange final readings and payments for utilities such as gas, electricity, water and phone/broadband.
- Change the address of your contents insurance, and make sure it includes cover during the move.
- Arrange for your mail to be redirected to your new address.
- Notify the council and arrange for your final rates bill. If you have paid rates in advance, these can be recovered from the buyer. Ask your lawyer or conveyancer about this.