20 December 2016

Conveyancing over Christmas

It’s that time of year again, the holiday season is upon us and the rush in finalising conveyancing contracts prior to the Cairns Christmas closures is ever present.

The trend in Cairns, and indeed elsewhere in Australia, is for conveyancing matters to increase exponentially leading up to the holidays and a push for settlements to go through before Christmas.  What many buyers and sellers do not realise is the impact of the holiday period on the critical dates in their conveyancing contracts.

Here are a few things to look out for and keep in mind for property settlements this time of year:

  1. Everyone wants their settlement to go through before going on holidays.  This puts increased pressure on Banks, often needing to deal with a huge influx of mortgage applications and release requests.  This is further complicated in Cairns, because Banks need extra time to mail or courier documents in readiness for settlement.  The key is to keep in contact with your bank and try to get in as early as possible.
  1. In the standard conveyancing contracts in Queensland, time is of the essence.  Accordingly it is essential that you meet finance dates, building and pest inspection dates and settlement dates.

If a finance date, building and pest inspection date or settlement date falls on a public holiday, in accordance with the standard conveyancing contracts, it will automatically pass to the ‘next business day’.  It is extremely important to keep this in mind when you are determining how much time you have to meet your obligations.  In standard conveyancing contracts, the days between 27-31 December inclusive are deemed not to be business days.  This means that a condition of the contract or the settlement date cannot be due on those days and will automatically fall due on the next business day.

For 2017, the next business day after 23 December 2016 is 3 January 2017.  The reason for this inclusion of deemed public holidays is that most law firms and the titles registry are closed in the period between Christmas and New Years. Prior to the change in the standard conditions for conveyancing contracts, it was common for parties to negotiate extensions or bring forward settlements to ensure that it would not fall on a date in this period.

  1. Somewhat confusingly the same does not apply in the case of cooling off periods.  As the cooling off period is imposed by statute, the period is not covered by the standard conditions in conveyancing contracts, but by legislation.

As a result the non-public holidays between Christmas and New Years are counted in the calculation of the 5 business day cooling off period.  If you are looking at signing a contract to purchase a property over the next week you should keep this in mind because it is likely that the cooling off period for your contract will expire during the time that most law firms and real estate agencies are closed.  If you are considering that you will need to terminate a contract in the cooling off period and the expiry of that period will fall in the holiday period, you should contact your lawyer or conveyancer to discuss your options now.

If you have any further questions or would like assistance with your property purchase, contact our conveyancing team today.

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