Hiring a professional for house and land sales
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Most people will need to hire the services of a professional for the different steps of buying and selling a property.
Finding a professional
Make sure any professional you hire is licensed to carry out the work.
Check the public licence register
Agents, sales reps and auctioneers must carry their registration when working and show it to you on request. The agent’s registration number is also displayed on any property advertisement.
Real estate and land agents
A real estate or land agent is usually involved in selling property on behalf of the seller. People can also sell the property themselves.
An agent can't act on behalf of both a seller and the buyer, but in certain situations, this is allowed if the buyer is given a warning notice.
What the agent does
- give a realistic selling price
- give advice about the best way to sell - for example, auction, by offer
- organise advertising and marketing
- organise and attend open inspections
- negotiate the final selling price
- prepare legal documents, for example contract of sale
- register bidders for the auction, including sighting their ID.
Your agent, their sales reps and associates - for example, a close family member - can purchase your property at auction. But they are not allowed to buy your property by making an offer unless they have been given approval by Consumer and Business Services. Approval will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
- a set fee
- combination of both.
The estimated selling price is written in the sales agency agreement. This can only be a single dollar figure; price ranges cannot be used.
Sales agency agreements
Before an agent can sell your property, you must sign a contract with them called a sales agency agreement. For residential properties, the agent must give you a guide (Form R1) which outlines your rights and obligations under the agreement, before the agreement is signed.
The two main types of agreements are:
- sole agency agreements - the agent has exclusive right to sell the property and entitled to a commission even if they aren’t directly responsible for the sale.
- general agreements - the agent is only entitled to a commission if they sell the property.
Both types of agreements must specify
Conditions can be added to either agreement, but most agents won't offer a general agreement as they risk having to pay for advertising and marketing without a guaranteed commission.
There can be penalties for withdrawing from the contract before the end date. Make sure you seek legal advice before withdrawing.
A registered auctioneer must conduct all property auctions. The real estate agent will normally organise this for the seller.
The auctioneer will ask for reserve price to be set in writing. This is the lowest amount the seller will accept.
Before the auction
The auctioneer must:
- provide bidders with the bidders guide (43.2 KB PDF)
- make the collusive practices statement (28.1 KB PDF) available to view 30 minutes before the auction.
During and after the auction
The auctioneer will usually:
- announce and place vendor bids during the auction
- decide whether the auction will stop to allow latecomers to register to bid
- maintain a written record of the number of bidders, bids made and who made them
- announce and record the outcome of the auction
- negotiate with bidders if the auction was held over
- accept the highest bid if it is equal to or more than the reserve price.
Conveyancers and solicitors
Conveyancers and solicitors are the legal professionals who transfer the ownership of property from one person to another.
What the conveyancer or solicitor does
They prepare the transfer documents and complete the legal steps when someone:
- buys or sells property
- subdivides land
- registers, changes or removes an easement
- updates details on a certificate of title – for example when registering a death.
Do it yourself
You are not legally obliged to hire a conveyancer or solicitor but if you sell or subdivide a property yourself, you must:
- prepare all legal documentation
- make sure you fully understand relevant legislation and regulations that apply
- be aware of what is required for agencies that might be involved in the sale – for example, your local council.
You will not be able to lodge the documents yourself to transfer the property to the new owner. This can only be done by a conveyancer or solicitor with access to an electronic lodgement system.