Can settlement be an enjoyable experience? Dianne Seear, an experienced conveyancer and Licensee at Residential Settlements, thinks it definitely can.
I quizzed Dianne about the settlement process and she shared her top tips for agents who want their clients to have an excellent property transaction.
Q. What’s the importance of a smooth settlement to real estate agents?
Clients who have a good experience with buying or selling a property will be more likely to become repeat clients and recommend their agent to friends and family. Advocacy is the best form of marketing and it costs nothing.
Q. In your experience, what’s the number one thing clients want from a settlement?
Buying or selling a property is one of the most stressful experiences we go through in our lives. Clients want help and guidance throughout the experience – and that is where real estate agents and settlement agents come into play. I find by explaining the process of settlement to the client at the beginning and then providing regular updates, they are more likely to understand what is happening and not stress themselves out.
Q. What are the five most important steps real estate agents should take to make sure clients have a great settlement once finance has been approved?
- Continue to be in contact with your clients throughout the process, even if to just touch base and see how they are doing.
- Be pro-active and contact the client to arrange the final inspection; don’t wait for them to contact you.
- Ensure any building and termite reports are ordered and completed within the timeframe allowed by the condition, and ensure a copy of these reports is provided to the client and their settlement agent as soon as they are to hand.
- Advise your client’s settlement agents of any issues with final inspection as soon as it is completed. Don’t leave it to the last minute as this can cause stress to all parties involved and may result in settlement being delayed.
- Inform you clients of the timeframe for hand-over of keys following settlement. Remember if the property is the principal place of residence for the seller/s, the buyer/s are not entitled to the keys until 12pm the day following settlement (unless the seller is in a position to hand them over earlier).
Q. What are the three most common things that hold up settlement, and how can real estate agents help their clients avoid them?
- If you are aware that your clients are fly-in fly-out workers, ensure that both settlement agents are aware of this as soon as possible, so steps can be taken to ensure documents are signed whilst the client is in town.
- Bank delays are a common issue that cause settlement to be delayed. Agents can help avoid this delay by providing finance approval to both settlement agents as soon as it is to hand.
- Problems at final inspection can also be an issue, if possible arrange for the final inspection to occur no later than 3 days before settlement, that way there is sufficient time for any issues to be rectified or for other options to be explored and agreed upon by all parties.
Q. Finally, an obvious factor in making a settlement enjoyable is which settlement agent carries it out. What should real estate agents and clients be looking for in a potential settlement agent?
A lot of agents will try and get the best price for their client’s settlement, and I’m a firm believer that “you get what you pay for”. Some settlement agents will provide cut-cost settlements and are therefore taking on a large volume of deals; this can lead to over-stressed and over-worked conveyancers who complete the minimum amount of work on a file to allow it to proceed to settlement.
By not taking the “best price” option you will find that more attention is paid to your settlement and every detail is attended to. This allows more contact between the client, the real estate agent and the settlement agent – which will result in a much smoother settlement.
You can view more advice from Dianne on our blog. For more advice from real estate experts, check out our other Ask an Expert interviews.