Home Loans

Explaining mortgage and conveyancing documents

3 min read

Home Loans

Explaining mortgage and conveyancing documents

3 min read

Say you’ve found the perfect home. It’s got the right number of rooms, a backyard big enough for a Saint Bernard, it’s equally close to shops and schools, within your budget… great! But now comes the paperwork.

The number of forms involved with purchasing property can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it’s vital to know what’s required, as a seemingly minor oversight can cause major headaches.

Getting help

Before considering making an offer on a home, you’ll probably want to engage the services of a conveyancer (or conveyancing solicitor). A conveyancer will make sure that both you and the vendor are complying with your legal obligations, and that your rights are protected. Their job is to dot every i and cross every t; they’ll help you navigate the paperwork and keep you from getting lost in the lingo.

What should I expect?

There are several documents that you (and/or your trusted conveyancer) will have to read at some point in the process. Knowing what to expect can make it easier to wade through them without getting bogged down in the detail.

Please note that the information below is intended as a guide only, and there may be other requirements depending on your circumstances.

Vendor’s statement

A vendor’s statement (often referred to as a section 32) is a document that provides information about a property that’s relevant to its sale. It’s only mandatory in certain states. If you receive a vendor’s statement, review it carefully with your conveyancer.

Certificate of Title

This is a document that specifies the registered owner of the property. This certificate should be provided by the seller and reviewed by you, or your conveyancer, before a contract is signed.

It’ll also mention any limitations or special conditions on a property, such as:

  • caveats, which are an official notice that a third party has an interest in the property;

  • easements, which grant another party the legal right to use the property (for example, a power company may have the right to access part of your property to maintain cables);

  • existing mortgages on the property; and

  • heritage overlays.

Conditions like these may restrict what can be done with your land. For example, if there is an easement over part of your backyard to allow workers to inspect and maintain pipes, you may not be able to build anything which impedes their access. So, your plans for an in-ground swimming pool or your dream entertaining area might be flushed down the easily-accessible drain.

Contract of sale

This one may be the most important, as the property is officially sold — with a big red sticker on the sign and everything — once you’ve signed the contract. The contract will include details such as:

  • property details, like the address;

  • names of the vendor and buyer;

  • details of relevant agents and conveyancers;

  • settlement date;

  • cooling off period, if one applies;

  • property price, deposit paid and outstanding balance; and

  • special conditions, such as the sale being subject to finance, or subject to a building inspection.

The moment of signing can be nerve-wracking, but it can also be very exciting. You should ensure that you’ve read everything and that you understand it, and that you’re adhering to any special conditions. For example, in Queensland, building and pest inspections are organised and paid for by the buyer with no intervention from the realtor or owner of the property. 

This means the onus is on the buyer (that is, you) to organise and be satisfied with the property’s building and pest inspections or pull out of the contract if you are not. Different legislation applies in different states, so be sure to check the rules where the property is located.

Loan contract

This is a contract between you and your lender that will spell out the details of your home loan. These details will probably include things like:

  • the amount you’re borrowing,
  • whether the loan offers a fixed or variable interest rate,
  • the expected loan period,
  • any associated fees and charges, and
  • other features such as a redraw or offset facility.

It’s important that this contract is finalised before you pull the trigger on your purchase; committing to buying a house before you can actually access the funds could land you in a very tricky situation.

Settlement statement

It’s important to remember that you don’t immediately take possession of your new property once a contract is signed. There’ll be some time between the contract signing and the handover of keys (which occurs on the settlement date), giving you plenty of time to sort out moving arrangements, switch utilities over, and argue about who gets the bigger bedroom.

The vendor will need to provide you with a document outlining the details of your settlement, describing where and how your funds need to be distributed. Details in this settlement statement can include:

  • purchase price, 

  • deposit amount, 

  • rates estimate,

  • government fees, and

  • stamp duty.

You may receive an initial settlement statement prior to signing your contract, then a final statement after the contract has been signed and the settlement date is official. Then you can start counting the days until the big move!

Transfer documents

Once settlement is completed and the property is officially yours, a document transferring ownership of the land will be lodged with the relevant office in your state or territory. This document is an official record of who owns a given piece of land and will contain detail such as the purchase date and price. If the property is to be owned by two or more people, this document will specify the nature of their arrangement.

This document will be lodged by the seller, but before settlement it normally needs to be checked and signed by you, your conveyancer or solicitor.

Of course, you should also make sure that you take time to enjoy the moment. You found the right house, you made a successful offer, and now it’s yours. That’s cause for celebration!

You should never feel like you’re being rushed into signing something that you don’t fully understand or agree with. Take the time to read things thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek independent advice. Your conveyancer is a great source of information, and your lender or mortgage broker should be able to help you navigate the loan arrangements. Friends and family who have purchased property before can also be a valuable resource. They’ve been there too; they know how stressful it can be.

The more informed you are, the better prepared you’ll be to dive into the property market while avoiding any negative surprises.

Get assistance

For any home loan questions and assistance with your application, the home loan experts at Suncorp Bank are here to help.


Talk to a home lending expert


Published 10 October 2023

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The information is intended to be of a general nature only and any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.

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