Seek expert advice on property

You can get advice on buying and selling property from experts including buyer’s advocates, estate agents, conveyancers and legal practitioners. 

We recommend you engage your own legal practitioner or conveyancer. 

On this page:

Buyer's advocates and estate agents

A buyer’s advocate is a licensed estate agent who, for a fee, acts for a buyer instead of a seller. A buyer’s advocate cannot act for both a buyer and seller on the same property transaction.

They can source properties, bid at auction and generally represent you throughout the buying process.

Talk to several buyer’s advocates before you decide who to use. Ask about their services and fees. Read the agency authority carefully before you sign it to appoint a buyer’s advocate.

Make sure the buyer’s advocate is licensed or authorised to deal in property by checking the Victorian Business Licensing Authority’s public register of estate agents.

Estate agents’ responsibilities to buyers

An agent’s responsibility is to the seller, but they are obliged to act responsibly and ethically when dealing with both buyers and sellers.

You can expect an estate agent to:

  • take your details and provide advice about relevant properties for sale
  • answer questions about listed properties 
  • arrange inspections 
  • provide a copy of the Section 32 statement (also known as a vendor's statement) 
  • communicate genuine offers to the seller 
  • organise the signing of the contract.

Conveyancing

Transferring land ownership from the seller to the buyer is called conveyancing.

Usually, buyers and sellers each engage a legal practitioner or conveyancer to handle this process. There are differences in what legal practitioners and conveyancers are allowed to do on behalf of a client.

We recommend you: 

  • choose a legal practitioner or conveyancer that you feel comfortable with and meets your needs
  • check references and make enquiries about the standard of their services 
  • obtain written quotes from several, and discuss all disbursements (administrative costs).

Do-it-yourself conveyancing

If you do your own conveyancing, you will not have a legal practitioner’s or conveyancer’s professional indemnity insurance if something goes wrong.

There is a lot at stake, so you must be confident of your ability. If you are not, use a conveyancer or legal practitioner.

Do-it-yourself conveyancing kits are available by searching online and in bookshops. Consumer Affairs Victoria does not endorse any specific private suppliers.

Legal practitioners and conveyancers

Legal practitioners

A legal practitioner must hold a current practising certificate and have professional indemnity insurance. They can:

  • review and advise on the Section 32 statement and the contract of sale
  • ensure that the transfer of title is done correctly 
  • advise on terms and conditions that need to be included in a contract to meet your needs, and on how different types of title may affect ownership rights and responsibilities
  • perform general legal work and provide legal advice to their client.

If you use a legal practitioner make sure they have a current practising certificate by checking the Legal Service Board of Victoria’s public register of legal practitioners.

Some legal practitioners specialise in conveyancing and property law.

Conveyancers

A conveyancer is a person other than a legal practitioner, who can:

  • undertake property conveyancing work 
  • do legal work or give legal advice with respect to the transfer of title.

A conveyancer must hold a licence and have professional indemnity insurance.

You can engage a conveyancer to:

  • find and review property titles
  • check the Section 32 statement  
  • advise on the terms and conditions in the contract of sale.

If you use a conveyancer, make sure they are licensed by checking the Victorian Business Licensing Authority’s public register of conveyancers.

Protection for clients of conveyancers and legal practitioners

If your legal practitioner or conveyancer misuses a deposit held in trust on your behalf, you can seek compensation from a statutory compensation fund. The relevant funds are:

  • legal practioners - Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund, administered by the Legal Services Board
  • conveyancers, estate agents and their employees - Victorian Property Fund, administered by Consumer Affairs Victoria. For more information, see our Compensation claims page.

Section 32 statement (also known as a vendor's statement)

Before a property is sold, the seller is required to provide the buyer with a Section 32 statement. 

This document is called a Section 32 statement because the information the seller must provide is outlined in section 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962

The Section 32 statement is:

  • usually prepared by the seller’s legal practitioner or conveyancer
  • signed by the seller 
  • attached to the contract of sale 
  • made available to prospective buyers along with the contract of sale, usually by the estate agent and before the sale or auction.

It is a legal document and must be factually accurate and complete. If it contains incorrect or insufficient information, a buyer may be able to withdraw from the sale or take legal action. 

You should have the statement checked by your own legal practitioner or conveyancer before you buy.

The Section 32 statement contains information about the property’s title, including:

  • mortgages
  • covenants 
  • easements 
  • zoning 
  • outgoings (for example, rates)
  • declaration if located in a bushfire-prone area.

It does not include any information about:

  • the condition of buildings
  • whether they comply with building regulations 
  • the accuracy of measurements on the title.

It is your responsibility to get any information that does not legally have to be included in the Section 32 statement.

Contract of sale

A prospective buyer makes an offer to buy a property by signing a contract of sale. The offer is accepted when the seller signs the contract. A property is sold when both buyer and seller have signed the contract of sale. 

The contract of sale contains: 

  • details of the property
  • names of the seller and buyer 
  • details of the seller’s estate agent, if they have one
  • details of the seller’s and buyer’s legal practitioner or conveyancer, if they have one 
  • the price 
  • the deposit 
  • the balance owing at settlement 
  • any special conditions such as ‘subject to finance’.

The contract must clearly specify whether the sale price includes or excludes the goods and services tax (GST) and, if it is included, how the amount will be calculated.

Generally, the GST only applies to the purchase of new homes. It does not apply to established homes unless the seller is registered for GST.

You can check a seller’s GST status on the Australian Business Register.

Last updated: 18/07/2016

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