The settlement process
Settlement is the official process of legally transferring a property from one person to another.
It is usually conducted by the legal and financial representatives of both the buyer and the vendor eg conveyancers. Settlement normally happens four to six weeks after both parties have signed the contract of sale.
The settlement date is included in the contract of sale and agreed to when you signed it. It is the date that:
- the balance of the purchase price is to be paid to the vendor
- all relevant legal documents - eg memorandum of transfer, are completed and lodged with the appropriate agencies
- the certificate of title is transferred into the buyer's name
- the property is legally transferred to the buyer
- the adjustments for rates and taxes are calculated.
The settlement is a complex legal process and it is strongly recommended that you engage the services of a professional conveyancer or solicitor to represent you.
The majority of settlements occur in the settlements room, a room provided by Land Services which is open weekdays between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm. No booking is required.
Documents usually lodged, along with the necessary fees, with the Land Titles Office (LTO) after settlement include:
- memorandum of transfer - to transfer the certificate of title from the vendor's name into the buyer's
- memorandum of mortgage - the buyer's mortgage is registered on the property's certificate of title
- discharge of mortgage - removes the vendor's mortgage from the certificate of title.
These documents are available online. Once these documents have been lodged, the LTO will advise all the relevant state and local government agencies of the transfer of ownership for rating and taxation purposes.
Rates and taxes
Outgoings - eg rates and taxes, will be transferred from the vendor to the buyer. The vendor is responsible for rates up to and including the date of settlement. After settlement the buyer becomes responsible.
This is a Government tax calculated on the value of the property at the date of the contract of sale. This is usually payable at or before settlement. More information about stamp duty can be found on the RevenueSA website.
If you are buying a property and are eligible for any grants you can lodge your application with RevenueSA once the settlement has been completed. If you are using a conveyancer they will complete and lodge these forms on your behalf.
Once the settlement has been completed, the buyer can contact the vendor or their agent to arrange a time to get the keys to the property. Any access to the property that is required before possession can be negotiated with the vendor or their agent.
Withdrawing from the contract of sale
Once the contract of sale has been signed by both parties and the cooling off period has expired neither the buyer or the vendor can withdraw from the contract without legal repercussions - eg compensation may have to be paid.
Withdrawing from the legally binding contract of sale can be expensive and complex. It is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice before deciding to do so. The consequences of defaulting on the contract will be detailed in the contract of sale.
On this site
Buying a home - Legal Services Commission
For an alternative version of this document contact Consumer and Business Services.