Settlement agents

Office closure

Our offices will close from Monday 24 December 2018 and will reopen on Thursday 3 January 2019. For urgent assistance during that period you can contact us.

Unless you are a suitably qualified lawyer, it would be very unwise to try to carry out the settlement of your own property. It's a complex and time consuming business, with many traps for the unwary.

When you are buying a property, it is necessary for all the paperwork to be completed and all the promises to be fulfilled in the contract for the sale of the property. Such work is known as conveyancing. If you don't want to do this yourself, you must employ a licensed settlement agent or a lawyer with a current practising certificate in law to attend to all these details on your behalf.

The main difference between employing a settlement agent as opposed to a lawyer is the settlement agent is not qualified to give you legal advice. However, a settlement agent is required by law to let you know when it is a good idea to get legal advice.

Conveyancing is the legwork to make sure the promises in a contract are carried out.

Using a settlement agent

  • Settlement agents must be licensed to operate in Western Australia.
  • A settlement agent must provide you with a written quote (costs disclosure) setting out the maximum amount they will be charging for their services, before you sign the appointment to act. The maximum amount must include all fees, commissions, charges and general office disbursements payable for the settlement agent’s service.
  • Settlement agents must give you a Form 1 Appointment to act as Settlement Agent which you and the settlement agent need to sign which authorises the agent to act on your behalf.
  • When a personal, business or financial relationship exists and there is a potential conflict of interest, the settlement agent must provide you with a ‘Form 2 - Disclosure Notice’ before you sign the Appointment to act as  Settlement Agent Form 1. 
  • If someone who is involved in buying or selling the property, such as the real estate agent or the bank lending you money suggests you use a particular settlement agent, they must give you a form for you to sign explaining your rights.

Settlement agents cannot act for both the buyer and the seller unless both the buyer and the seller give permission to do so on the appointment form. You do not have to use a particular settlement agent because someone else has suggested or recommended you do so. Settlement agents must also comply with the Code of conduct for settlement agents

Information about choosing a settlement agent or lawyer

When selecting a settlement agent or lawyer, shop around try looking through phone directories and ask for recommendations from family and friends.

It is recommended you choose your own settlement agent or lawyer, who is not also providing conveyancing services to the other party.  If a conflict of interest arises during the settlement which would place one party’s interests above another’s, the settlement agent would be forced to withdraw service from all parties. 

What to expect from the settlement agent or lawyer conducting your settlement

He or she:

  • ensures the completion and lodgement of documents to transfer the details of ownership on the certificate of title;
  • makes necessary enquiries, such as title, rates and zoning; double checks all inspections and other special conditions in the contract have been completed prior to settlement and ensures their client is satisfied the conditions have been met;
  • requests funds to proceed to settlement;
  • keeps you informed about the progress of buying your property and lets you know about any problems; and
  • attends settlement on your behalf.

You are free to choose or change the person conducting your settlement at any time. However, if you do, you may be required to pay some money for the work already done on your behalf.

The person conducting your settlement must either not take on a client or cease to act for an existing one if they have a conflicting interest in the transaction.

Information about choosing a settlement agent or lawyer

When selecting a settlement agent or lawyer, shop around using the Yellow Pages and ask for recommendations from family and friends.  It is recommended you choose your own settlement agent or lawyer, who is not also providing conveyancing services to the other party. 

Settlement agents are able to determine what fee to charge their client for their services.  You can for a quote before deciding on which settlement agent to use.  In any event, the settlement agent must provide you with a written disclosure of the maximum amount they will charge you, before you officially appoint them to act on your behalf.

Settlement agents and lawyers will also pass on to you a range of disbursement costs incurred in processing the settlement.  These costs may include charges related to telephone calls, facsimiles, photocopying, postage, stationery and courier costs.  With settlement agents, these disbursement costs must be incorporated into the maximum amount disclosed to you prior to your appointment of the settlement agent. 

The Choosing a settlement agent fact sheet provides general information about choosing a settlement agent or solicitor along with their respective roles in a property transaction.

Share this page:

Last modified: