5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Settlement Agent
When you appoint a settlement agent, you’re choosing someone who will be in charge of one of your most important transactions (if not your most important transaction), ever.
Clearly, your settlement agent needs to be an agency you can trust.
Here are five essential questions you should be asking your settlement agent before entrusting them with such an important transaction:
Q: Will you communicate regularly with me?
Without regular communication, conveyancers may miss important details that will jeopardise settlement.
We’ve heard of cases where a settlement agent dealing with a seller has simply assumed that the seller knows what date to move out on, and how to hand keys over – when in reality the seller was waiting to be contacted – leading to the seller still living in the property come settlement date!
The right settlement agent will regularly contact you, your real estate agent, and the settlement agent acting for the other parties instead of making assumptions.
Q: Do you understand my situation?
Every property transaction is unique, so don’t choose a settlement agent that will treat you as a number. The property involved, the terms of the contract, and your personal situation are always going to be slightly different from the next person. You need a settlement agent who asks you the right questions about your unique situation – questions like “Are you planning a trip away from Perth during settlement?” and “Do you have any special concerns about the settlement process?”. Does the settlement agent you’re looking at do this?
At Residential Settlements, we interview both you and your real estate agent before taking any action on your file. That way, we pick up every detail that might influence your settlement – especially the details that could cost you money.
Q: Will you put the appropriate amount of care into my property transaction?
Even the best conveyancers make mistakes when they’re dealing with too many files. These mistakes can include:
- lodging the contract for stamp duty more than two months after signing of the Offer and Acceptance, leading to massive stamp duty penalties, or
- transferring the wrong property because they glanced over the certificate of title instead of examining it correctly.
They can be avoided if conveyancers are given the opportunity to pay each situation the appropriate attention. That’s why the conveyancers at Residential Settlements never take on more than they can handle – we’re all about quality, not quantity.
Q: Are you a settlement agent, or a lawyer?
Under Australian law any qualified lawyer is qualified to carry out the work of a conveyancer. Lawyers can also give out legal advice. However, legal firms deal with a range of cases, most of which have nothing to do with property. Settlement agents, on the other hand, only deal with settlements – and they devote all their attention to settlements, every day.
For a better working knowledge of the ins and outs of the settlement process, use a licensed settlement agent, not a lawyer.
Q. Do you charge a fixed fee?
When it comes to the most important transaction you’ll ever make, there are many more considerations than just money. But naturally, fees remain a big consideration for many buyers and sellers. That’s why when you get a quote from a settlement agent, you need to know:
- Is the fee quoted all-inclusive?
- Is it a fixed fee, or are you going to pile on extra fees after settlement if my case gets too complicated?
At Residential Settlements, we not only provide the best service to ensure value for money – we also make fees uncomplicated. Ask us for a quote, and you’ll get a single amount inclusive of government taxes and our own settlement fee. The amount we quote you will rarely change at the end of settlement, because unlike some, we provide you with a realistic estimate of disbursement fees at the start of settlement – so you aren’t charged with unexpectedly high fees later.