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Conveyancing is the transfer of ownership of a property from a seller to a buyer.
Usually, the buyer and seller each engage a legal practitioner or conveyancer to handle this process. There are differences in what legal practitioners and conveyancers are legally allowed to undertake 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).
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 in your ability. If not, use a conveyancer or legal practitioner.
Legal practitioners and conveyancers
When you deal with a legal practitioner or conveyancer, you are protected by:
Your legal practitioner can prepare or review all documentation required for a property sale, including your Section 32 statement and the contract.
A legal practitioner:
- must hold a current practising certificate
- can perform general legal work and provide legal advice to their client.
Some legal practitioners specialise in conveyancing and property law.
You can engage a conveyancer to prepare or review the Section 32 statement and other legal documentation, such as the contract of sale.
A conveyancer is a person other than a legal practitioner, licensed to:
- undertake property conveyancing work
- do legal work or give legal advice about the transfer of title.
If you use a conveyancer, make sure that they are licensed. You can find a licensed conveyancer, or check a conveyancer’s licence details, by searching the Public register of conveyancers online.
Section 32 statement (also known as a vendor's statement)
Before a property is sold, you are required to provide the buyer with a Section 32 statement. This is usually prepared by your legal practitioner or conveyancer.
The Section 32 statement is so called because the information it must contain is set out in section 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962. It is also known as a vendor's statement.
You sign the Section 32 statement, a legal document that 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.
Usually, the agent makes the document available to prospective buyers before the sale or auction.
A prospective buyer may have the statement checked by his or her own legal practitioner or conveyancer before purchase.
The Section 32 statement contains information about the property’s title, including:
- outgoings (for example, rates)
- declaration if located in a bushfire-prone area.
Selling in an owners corporation (formerly body corporate)
If you intend to sell your property, you must include an owners corporation certificate and accompanying documents in the Section 32 statement.
Section 32 statements are sometimes prepared up to 12 months before the sale of the property, so buyers should either:
- ask for a new certificate before settlement, or
- make a time to inspect the owners corporation register and records.
While it is free to check the owners corporation register, the owners corporation can charge a fee for copies of documents. For a list of the fee limits, view our Fees – owners corporations page.
Contract of sale for property
A property is sold when both you and the buyer have signed the contract of sale.
The contract of sale can also be used by prospective buyers to make an offer on a property.
- details of the property
- your name and the names of buyer
- the name of your estate agent, if you are using one
- details of legal practitioners or conveyancers that you and the buyer have engaged
- the price
- the deposit paid
- balance owing at settlement
- any special conditions, such as a clause ‘subject to finance’.
The contract must clearly specify whether the price includes or excludes the goods and services tax (GST) and, if included, how the amount will be calculated.