What is settlement day?

Property settlement (also known as “completion date”) is the date when a property transfers from one owner to another.

These legal requirements can be complex, which is why most buyers and sellers will engage the services of a conveyancing law firm to ensure the process is handled correctly.

The settlement date is usually negotiated and agreed between the buyer and seller prior to entering into the Contract for Sale. In the ACT, the standard settlement period is 30 days from the date of entering into the Contract (“exchange date”), however this can be varied by agreement. Once you exchange contracts on your new property, the contract has become formally binding and you will know your agreed settlement date.

Immediately prior to the settlement date you will be required to arrange a pre-settlement inspection to ensure that there are no major issues with the property.

It’s settlement day!

In the ACT, settlements occur at a physical meeting between the parties where documents and cheques are handed over. There are no electronic bank transfers or electronic documents accepted at settlement in the ACT.

Prior to the settlement date, your Conveyancer and lender (if finance is being obtained) will work together to schedule a meeting with the seller’s conveyancer at the ACT Settlements Room on the agreed settlement date. You are not required to attend the settlement.

At settlement, the seller’s solicitor will hand over the Certificate of Title and Transfer forms, and in exchange the buyer’s solicitor will hand over cheques for payment of the balance of the purchase price. Once all requirements of the parties have been satisfied at settlement, the settlement will be complete.

Your conveyancer will be in touch with you immediately after settlement to advise that keys are now able to be collected from the selling party or their agent. At this time you are officially able to take possession of the property.

All title documents are physically lodged for registration with the ACT Land Titles Office after settlement, which will register you as the new owner. This process time-frame is dependent on the ACT Land Titles Office capacity and can sometimes take a few weeks.

From April 2020 the ACT Land Titles Office have begun issuing electronic Certificates of Title. Unless you have obtained finance you will receive a copy of the electronic Certificate of Title from your conveyancer after the registration process is complete. In the event that you have obtained finance, your bank will receive and hold the electronic Certificate of Title, until your mortgage has been discharged.