If you’re thinking of buying there’s a pretty good chance you know what you want, where you want it and how much you are prepared to pay. When it comes to buying there’s no shortage of advice online as well as from parents, friends, armchair experts, not to mention those get rich spruikers.

The biggest mistake you are likely to make isn’t doing enough research, investing wisely or getting the best price, the biggest mistake most buyers make is not calling a settlement agent before they sign a contract.

How many rock stars have said “I only wish I got my lawyer to look over the contract before I signed it?” In property they call it caveat emptor or buyer beware, but it needn’t be like this, in fact, it can quite easily be buyer aware.

Let’s bust a myth and a BIG misconception. The real-estate agent isn’t your friend, sure they might seem lovely, keen to show you around the property and they might even use the standard contract. But you need to know they are working for the seller and the standard contract in WA favours the seller. Why? Because just like those music execs they know you aren’t necessarily skilled at negotiating a million dollar contact in your favour? So why try?

The settlement agent is experienced at representing both buyers and sellers so they have seen it all. Good and bad! What you might not know is that they are also duty bound to look after you. A bit like a police officer is there to serve and protect. Ok they might not have a badge but they are fierce when it comes to looking after you.

Why would you appoint a settlement agent after you have signed a contract? You are effectively excluding the one person experienced enough to assist you with purchasing a property.

If you’re about to lay down some serious money on a property start by calling a licensed settlement agent, the conversation will go a bit like this:
You: I’m thinking about buying a property but I haven’t signed a contract yet
SA: Excellent, wise move, I have some questions for you and there may be some clauses you want to add plus some pre-inspections you might want to consider. Wound you like me to assist you?
You: Yes, but how much will that cost?

Depending on the settlement agent and how much assistance you require will depend if they charge a modest consultation fee or not. This is your first opportunity to build a relationship of trust with a property professional who could be representing you all the way to settlement. It’s time to use your intuition and ask yourself “is this settlement agent right for me”. The choice is yours! Ask questions and be open about your situation and what you want.

So if you are looking to buy, strike up a conversation today with a Licensed Settlement Agent before you sign anything.

Other common mistakes made when buying a property are:
• Underestimating purchasing costs. Along with government fees and charges there are additional costs that won’t be known until your settlement agent has the chance to look over various documents and searches as well as confirm details with you.
• Being unaware of the interests and encumbrances either noted or not noted on the certificate of title. Not all interests affecting the property are noted on the certificate of title. Strata properties are notorious for having special levies and fees in addition to council rates and any utility costs
• Not understanding how state and federal legislation may impact the cost of your purchase. Having to be verified. Increased stamp duty of spouse who are non-residents. Grants that may save you thousands. Do you know them all?
• How penalty interest might be applied due to delays to settlement caused by you either directly or indirectly.
• Failing to do building and pest inspections.
• Failing to navigate the transition period between selling and buying. Will you need to rent or can early possession be negotiated?
• Not choosing a settlement agent or choosing badly. Why would you haggle over a few hundred dollars when it comes to choosing someone who is representing you in life’s biggest purchase? You might have just saved yourself $200 but how much did it cost you in the long run?
• Failing to get finance pre-approval
• Doing your own settlement. There’s a good reason why only around 2% of buyers do their own settlement!

To find a settlement agent visit https://aicwa.com.au/find-a-conveyancer/