While there are numerous grants and concessions available, buying or selling a property can be expensive and conveyancing is only a small part of this overall cost. There are many costs to consider, most of which are government fees. We help you to navigate and minimise these fees and hope this guide will help you have sufficient funds to settle comfortably.
Like any professional service there is a huge variation in the quality of conveyancing services available in the market and likewise the advice you could receive from different conveyancers and lawyers. Some conveyancers give better advice than some lawyers. Some lawyers only look after a few conveyancing matters per year and may not be up- to- date with the avalanche of recent changes in our industry but may still charge you $1,000 more than average.
You may save $150 in using a licensed conveyancer with only one year of experience, but it may end up costing thousands in lost sales or negotiations during a transaction, or because they have tried to save money by not buying all necessary searches to protect your interests. This could lead to you inheriting the vendor’s debts on the property or being unable to use the property the way you intended (e.g. there may be an undisclosed easement running under your driveway, or your fence line may be inside your neighbour’s title boundary).
Sadly, quoted fees in our industry can be misleading. When you obtain a quote from a conveyancer or lawyer, we strongly recommend asking what is not included? For example, GST, searches, printing, postage, and so on. A $600 conveyancing quote can easily equate to $1,300 when you add on all the extras.
One of the reasons we are so highly recommended is we are upfront about what we charge. Although in some cases where a party defaults (i.e. they settle late or pay their deposit considerably late) or there is extra work outside of the conveyancing (e.g. negotiating entry to the property before settlement under a special license agreement), or an owner’s corporation certificate is needed, the vast majority of our clients pay our quoted fees. We believe our fees to be highly competitive and the best value in our industry as we provide thorough searches and a report on your property, give fantastic advice and are extremely responsive and friendly.
* A small minority of property transactions incur extra costs, these are normally incurred because you, your selling agent or mortgagee have requirements outside what are typical for a standard conveyancing transaction. Non-residential property transactions incur an additional fee.
Know the Costs Involved in Your Property Purchase
Buying a home or an investment property is an exciting time and one of the biggest investments you will make. But it isn’t just about the price you agree to pay the vendor. You need to be prepared for all the costs involved in property transactions, many of which are unavoidable government charges.
State Revenue Office Stamp Duty and Certification
Stamp duty is a tax you will pay to the Victorian government. Just how much depends on many variables including:
You could qualify for a stamp duty concession or even exemption. Your conveyancer at AB Morison can advise you on how much stamp duty you can expect to pay. As part of the settlement process, stamp duty will need to be calculated and ‘certified’. This process is called State Revenue Office Stamp Duty Certification.
First Home Buyers
First home buyers of established property or vacant land with a purchase price of $600,000 or less are exempt from paying stamp duty. If you are a first home buyer and have brought a brand-new property or purchased off-the-plan (for a dutiable value of up to $750,000), not only is your purchase free of stamp duty, but you could also be entitled to the First Home Owners Grant of between $10,000 (Melbourne metropolitan) and $20,000 (Victoria regional areas). The dutiable value is often less than the total price if there is a discount when buying off-the-plan, as construction is often not yet complete.
For more information visit https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/first-home-owner
Principle Place of Residence
If you are purchasing property to live in as your principle place of residence for $500,000 or less, a stamp duty concession applies. Top qualify for this concession you must live in the home for a continuous period of at least 12 months, within 12 months of settlement. This can reduce your stamp duty payable by as much as $3100.
Investors and Off the Plan Purchases
Unfortunately, the stamp duty concessions for purchasing off-the-plan were removed for investors. Any contracts entered into after 1st July 2017 do not attract stamp duty concessions.
Foreign Investors beware…
If you are a foreigner wanting to purchase is Australia you will be charged extra stamp duty. This duty was increased to 8% of the purchase price on 1st July 2019. This duty is payable in addition to the standard stamp duty payable.
Land Titles Office Registration Fees
Transfer registration fees are charged by the Land Titles Office. Although a lot less significant than stamp duty is another fee (capped at approximately $3,600). For example, the registration fee for a $600,000 property is $1494.
Please contact your conveyancer at AB Morison on 03 9867 5551 to get a calculation of these fees for your purchase.
Verification of Identity (VOI)
All vendors and purchasers of property (including overseas residents and company directors) must obtain a Verification of Identity (VOI) prior to settlement. This government mandated face to face ID check with an Authorised ID Agent is required for all real-estate transactions occurring in Australia.
A VOI is valid for two years, so if you buy or sell property with us again you will not need to do another one.
Your Broker and Bank Fees
When choosing a finance provider, you may wish to consider whether to use a mortgage broker or apply with a bank directly. Some brokers charge a fee, and all make a commission from the lender. A mortgage broker can help to simplify the process and be a direct point of contact to answer any questions you have, as well as being able to compare a range of different lenders to help you understand what your options may be. There are advantages to both going through a broker and applying to your bank directly, depending on your personal circumstances and needs.
Your bank will charge you fees for setting up your mortgage and settling the matter. The fees vary greatly between financial institutions. You should check your loan documents for these costs as they will be deducted from your loan amount.
PEXA Electronic Settlement Fees
Settlements in Victoria are completed on an electronic platform called PEXA (Property Exchange Australia). PEXA is an online platform that removes the new for paper settlements, cheques and increased the timely settlement of your property. PEXA charges a fee of $114.07 at settlement.
Adjustments at Settlement
Adjustments are not fees, but are ongoing charges related to your property. Council, water rates, owner’s corporation fees (if applicable) and land tax are adjusted at settlement between the vendor and purchaser. As the purchaser you will reimburse the vendor for any amounts paid beyond the settlement day. Your conveyancer will complete these calculations or adjustments for you and send you a Statement of Adjustments.
Get a Building Inspections
It is very valuable to obtain a building and pest inspection on both established and brand-new homes. If you are buying off the plan the building inspector will point out defects and provide a full report for the builder to rectify. Here at AB Morison we work with the best building inspectors in the business! If you want a recommendation do not hesitate to get in touch.
Costs to Budget for when Selling Your Property
When you have made the decision to sell your property, you need to know what the whole process is going to cost you. There are many costs to consider, some of them negotiable.
Be Sure to Negotiate Your Real Estate Agent Commissions
Real estate agents fees can vary greatly but are negotiable. Typically, you can expect to pay between 2-3.3% of the purchase price for the services of an agent. In addition to this there may be marketing fees and auction fees. A good real estate agent can be a valuable asset when selling; an agent who knows the market, understands the best way to advertise your home and has potential buyers lined up to get you the best possible price. You might consider using a vendor’s advocate to negotiate the sale of your property. Vendor’s advocates will negotiate with real estate agents on your behalf to get the best possible deal and method of sale for your circumstances.
Up Front and Simple - Our Conveyancing Fees
AB Morison will prepare your contract of sale, give advice and guidance on the sale and assist you through to settlement for a fixed fee.
Styling Your Home for Sale
This is a growing service industry! There are plenty of firms offering home staging and furniture rental services to present your home to potential interested buyers. Boosting the look and appeal of your home could achieve you a higher selling price.
Costs vary between services and suppliers – typically $5,000 to $10,000.
Discharging Your Mortgage
Discharge fees vary depending on the lender and type of loan. Fees can range from $220 to $600. Check with your lender to confirm the amount. The Land Titles Office charges an additional fee to discharge any mortgages held over your property. The current rate as of August 2019 is $110.80 per mortgage. Don’t forget you will need to pay the outstanding balance of the bank loan from funds at settlement.
Compulsory Electronic Settlement Fee
Electronic settlements have been mandated in Victoria since mid-2018. Settlements in Victoria are completed on an electronic platform called PEXA (Property Exchange Australia). PEXA is an online platform that removes the need for paper settlements, cheques and reduces the time it takes for cleared settlement funds to reach your account. PEXA’s fee is $114.07.
Your Outstanding Rates will be Adjusted for at Settlement
As the owner of a property you pay council and water authorities rates and if applicable, owners corporation fees and land tax. When you decide to sell these rates are paid by you up until and including settlement day. They are adjusted for a settlement to ensure the purchaser pays their portion of the bills. Figures are calculated in the Statement of Adjustments and any outstanding bills will be taken out of your settlement proceeds so the property is settled debt free.
How to Avoid Capital Gains Withholding Tax at Settlement
Under the new rules, when purchasing real estate with a market value/ contract price of $750,000.00 and above, a purchaser is required to withhold 12.5% (previously 10%) of the purchase price (or market value of the property) and pay this non-final withholding tax to the ATO at settlement. This is unless they receive a valid clearance certificate or other valid vendor declaration/ variation notice, issued by the ATO, from each vendor registered on the title before the settlement date.
The clearance certificate or other vendor declaration/ variation notice can take up to 30 days or longer to be processed by the ATO but is valid for 12 months. Therefore, if you expect your property to sell for $750,000.00 or above, we recommend you apply to the ATO ASAP to ensure the correct tax is withheld from your sale proceeds at settlement.