Seek expert advice on property

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You can get advice on buying and selling property from experts such as 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. You can find out if a buyer's advocate is licensed by checking our Public register of licensed estate agents.

Note: An estate agent cannot act for a buyer as a buyer's advocate and for a seller on the same property transaction.

A buyer's advocate can help you find properties, bid on your behalf at an auction and generally represent you throughout the buying process.

If you decide to use a buyer's advocate:

  • talk to several to find the right one for you
  • ask about their services and fees, and
  • carefully read the agency authority before you sign it. The agency authority is the legal document that gives the buyer's advocate authority to act for you.

Estate agents' responsibilities to buyers

Although an agent's responsibility is to the seller, they are also obliged to act responsibly and ethically when dealing with you, the buyer.

As a buyer, you can expect an estate agent to:

  • take your details and provide free information advice about relevant properties for sale
  • answer any questions you have
  • arrange inspections
  • give you a Statement of Information for a property for sale
  • provide a copy of the Section 32 statement
  • communicate genuine offers to the seller
  • organise the signing of the contract of sale.

Note: New laws were introduced in May this year to strengthen laws against underquoting in Victoria. Underquoting can occur when a property is advertised at a price that is less than the agent's estimated selling price, the seller's asking price, or a price already rejected by the seller. For more information on real estate pricing and advertising, view our Understanding property prices page.

Legal practitioners and conveyancers

Transferring land ownership from the seller to the buyer is called conveyancing. This is often done with the help of a legal practitioner or conveyancer.

Legal practitioners must have a current practising certificate and conveyancers must be licensed. They must both have professional indemnity insurance – this will cover any financial loss you suffer as a direct result of their information and advice.

We recommend you:

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

There are differences in what legal practitioners and conveyancers are allowed to do on behalf of a client.

Legal practitioners

A legal practitioner 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
  • advise how different types of title may affect ownership rights and responsibilities
  • perform general legal work and provide legal advice.

To check if a legal practitioner has a current practising certificate, search the Register of legal practitioners and law practices on the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner website.

Conveyancers

A conveayncer can:

  • undertake property conveyancing work
  • carry out legal work or give legal advice regarding the transfer of title.

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.

To find a conveyancer, search our Public register of licensed conveyancers.

Do-it-yourself conveyancing

You can do your own conveyancing, but if you do, you will not have a legal practitioner 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.

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 one of the following statutory compensation funds:

Section 32 statement

Before a property is sold, the seller must give you a ‘Section 32 statement’ as required by section 32 of the Sale of Land Act 1962. You can find this Act on our Legislation we administer page.

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

  • mortgages
  • covenants
  • easements
  • zoning
  • outgoings (for example, rates)
  • a declaration if the property is 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.

The Section 32 statement is a legal document that must be factually accurate and complete. If it contains incorrect or insufficient information, you may be able to withdraw from the sale or take legal action.

The statement is:

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

You should have the Section 32 statement checked by your own legal practitioner or conveyancer before you buy.

Contact of sale and GST

You can make an offer to buy a property by signing a contract of sale. The offer is accepted and the property is sold when the seller also signs the contract.

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 property 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, the amount.

For information on special conditions that can be included in contracts for:

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 website.

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