What is a Settlement Agent?
Generally, buyers and sellers of property will engage a settlement agent or solicitor to conduct settlement on their behalf, although it is possible for buyers and sellers to conduct their own settlement. When carrying out a typical property settlement, a settlement agent or solicitor follows up the performance of general and special conditions relating to the contract of sale. Some of these tasks include:
- searching land titles and checking any restrictions on the use or transfer of the property which are identified on the title;
- arranging, where required, for any restrictions on the title of the property to be removed;
- enquiring with local councils and with government departments about rates, taxes and water consumption to determine details of the sewer connection, any outstanding orders and building licences and the amounts to be paid by the seller and the buyer;
- notifying the relevant authorities about the change of ownership;
- preparing settlement statements and a number of legal documents and forms;
- obtaining payment from the client of any fees and duty payable on documents involved in the transaction and arranging for the payment of transfer duty (previously known as ‘stamp duty’) and other fees to the relevant government agencies;
- attending settlement to exchange documents and monies to facilitate the legal transfer of the property; and
- notifying the relevant authorities when settlement occurs.