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Although there is a great deal of consistency in the home conveyancing process throughout Australia, states and territories do differ on a few key points. For example, Victoria requires that a highly detailed Vendor Statement accompany every Contract of Sale, while Tasmania requires no Vendor Statement at all. Moreover, first home buyer benefits in the form of first home owner grants (FHOG) and stamp duty relief can vary by tens of thousands of dollars by state or territory. Therefore, it’s important to learn how your Australian state or territory differs from others as you confidently enter the home conveyancing process.
The Vendor Statement
Required by most states and territories in Australia, the Vendor Statement generally accompanies the Contract of Sale and discloses key pieces of information about the property that help the buyer make an informed decision.
Referred to as “the Section 32,” the Vendor Statement in Victoria is a legally required document that must accompany every Contract of Sale. No Australian state or territory demands the seller to disclose as much information in the Vendor Statement as Victoria, where the document originated.
New South Wales
In NSW, the Vendor Statement is entitled “Schedule 1 Prescribed Documents.” These documents include a Section 149 Certificate, which refers to zoning; a plan documenting the lot’s location; a document spelling out the property’s service locations; and a title-related document noting restrictions placed on owners and land-use.
The Northern Territory
Thus far, legislation requiring a Vendor Statement has not passed in NT.
Australian Capital Territory
Like New South Wales, ACT does not have a single Vendor Statement document per say. However, the state does require that the sellers share copies of documents that disclose vital information to the buyer. These documents may include an assessment of the physical condition of the property; documents concerning restrictions to land development; and asbestos and pest inspection reports, among other key documents.
A “Warning Statement” section, placed above the signature line in the Contract of Sale, is legally required in Queensland. Although nowhere near as encompassing as a Vendor Statement, the Warning Statement is a step toward greater disclosure. Queensland’s Warning Statement informs buyers of the cooling-off period while encouraging them to seek professional legal advice and perform a property valuation.
In South Australia, the Vendor Statement is called the “Form 1 Disclosure Statement,” often abbreviated as “Form 1.” SA requires that the seller provide the buyer with a Form 1 at least ten days prior to settlement.
The unofficial name of the Vendor Statement in Western Australia is simply “Seller’s Disclosure Statement.” Buyers often request this document from sellers, although the state does not legally require it.
As is the case in the Northern Territory, legislation requiring a Vendor Statement has not yet passed in Tasmania.
First home buyer advantages
Every state and territory in Australia offers first home buyers one or more benefits, generally in the form of a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) and stamp duty relief.
The state of Victoria offers generous first home buyer benefits, including an FHOG grant of up to $20,000 on new builds (depending on location and property value). Additionally, first home buyers purchasing a home with a dutiable value of $750,000 or less will either be exempt from paying stamp duty or will pay a discounted rate.
New South Wales
NSW offers a $10,000 grant to first home buyers purchasing a newly built property for $750,000 or less. Additionally, if the property is $650,000 or less, first home buyers are either exempt from stamp duty or pay a discounted rate.
The Northern Territory
NT offers a $26,000 grant to first home buyers that purchase a newly built property. The buyer and the property must meet certain requirements, but there is no upper limit to the value of the property, as there is in most other states that apply FHOG. For first home buyers purchasing established homes, as long as the property’s dutiable value is $650,000 or less, they will pay a discounted rate.
Under certain conditions, NSW offers a $7,000 grant to first home buyers purchasing a newly built property. For new builds with values of $585,000 or less, first home buyers are either exempt from stamp duty or pay a concessional rate.
Through the end of 2017, Queensland will continue to offer a boosted FHOG grant of $20,000 to first home buyers purchasing a newly built property of $750,000 or less. For properties with dutiable values of less than $550,000, first home buyers are either exempt from stamp duty or pay a discounted rate.
SA offers a $15,000 grant to first home buyers buying a new build for $575,000 or less. Stamp duty relief for first home buyers is restricted to off-the-plan apartments in certain regions.
WA offers a $10,000 grant to first home buyers purchasing a newly built or “substantially renovated” property, subject to an upper limit on property value that depends on location. Furthermore, if the property is $530,000 or less, first home buyers are either exempt from stamp duty or pay a concessional rate.
NSW is currently extending their $20,000 grant to first home buyers purchasing new builds through June 30, 2018. However, Tasmania does not currently offer first home buyers stamp duty exemptions or concessions.
The cooling-off period
Most states and territories in Australia offer the buyer a cooling-off period that gives them time to back out of the Contract of Sale while keeping their deposit if they decide not to go through with the purchase. However, the length of the cooling-off period, as well as the fee for taking advantage of it, varies among the states and territories that offer it. Here we provide a very brief outline of the cooling-off periods by state or territory. See your home conveyancer or property lawyer to fill in the details.
Victoria offers a three-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, the penalty for breaking the contract is 0.2% of the purchase price.
New South Wales
NSW offers a five-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, the penalty for breaking the contract is 0.25% of the purchase price.
The Northern Territory
The NT offers a four-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, there is no penalty for breaking the contract.
As is the case with New South Wales, ACT offers a five-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, the penalty for breaking the contract is 0.25% of the purchase price.
Like NSW and ACT, Queensland offers a five-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, the penalty for breaking the contract is 0.25% of the purchase price.
SA offers a two-business-day cooling-off period. During this time, the penalty for breaking the contract is equal to the holding deposit (if any) plus $100 of the purchase deposit.
WA does not currently require a cooling-off period.
Tasmania does not currently require a cooling-off period but may pass legislation soon.
The home conveyancing process in your state or territory
Each state and territory in Australia handles the home conveyancing process differently. As a home buyer or seller, those differences can have a significant impact on your rights, as well as your financial burden. Here we’ve looked at three key areas of the home conveyancing process where states and territories differ from one another: the Vendor Statement, first home buyer benefits, and the cooling-off period. However, the differences do not end there. For example, e-Conveyancing, which can save you time and money during settlement, may or may not be available in your state. And there are dozens of other notable state-by-state variables. So take the time to meet with your home conveyancer or property lawyer to review how your state handles all the ins and outs of the home conveyancing process.
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