How to choose the right Conveyancing Lawyer (Queensland)

bankers-tighten-lending-policy-to-foreign-lenders

You’ve recently made the biggest investment of your life and now you need to find the right conveyancing lawyer to assist you through the confusing legal process.

If you’re from Brisbane your first instinct is to search Google for “Conveyancing Brisbane”. With so many lawyers to choose from it’s tough to make a decision.

  • Do I choose the first conveyancing law firm that appears on Google?
  • Do I need a lawyer from my local area or close to my new property?
  • Do I choose the cheapest?
  • How do I know if they’re any good?

Most inexperienced property buyers and/or sellers underestimate the importance of asking these questions. Choosing a dud conveyancing lawyer is synonymous with a stressful settlement process, paying hefty penalty fees and in some cases even losing your deposit.

I don’t know about you but if I’m going to trust somebody with the biggest investment of my life, they better be good!

Here’s how to choose the right conveyancing lawyer:

Your conveyancing lawyer doesn’t need to be local or close to your new property. So for example you may live in Robina your new property may be in Coomera and your chosen conveyancing lawyer may be in Brisbane or Surfers Paradise. It’s far more important to choose the right conveyancing lawyer based on their excellent reputation for service rather than location. With modern day technology the conveyancing process can be completed from anywhere in Queensland.

Ask family and friends for a recommendation

A great way to find any kind of service is by word of mouth. I’m sure you all know somebody who has recently bought or sold a property. Why not ask that person who they used and how they found the service? To be guided by the people we trust is always a good start.

Hit the online reviews

People love to share their experiences online, the good, bad and the ugly. Look to sites such as WOMO or Google Reviews to see if the conveyancing lawyer you are considering has the peoples vote.

Call and actually speak to someone

It’s simple to get an online quote however nothing beats picking up the phone and having a conversation. You can learn a lot about someone and the service they provide by their phone acumen.

For example if the person you speak with makes you feel comfortable and confident in the service they provide, If they are happy to share information with you about the conveyancing process and if they genuinely take an interest in speaking with you then most likely they’re going to be good.

Use professional fees as a guide

What’s it going to cost me?

In my experience good conveyancing lawyers don’t compete on price and nor should you!

Beware of conveyancing lawyers that offer dirt cheap conveyancing fees.

You’ll never hear from them.

You won’t be guided through the process.

You won’t have an experienced lawyer doing your work but rather an inexperienced law clerk who will end up costing you more in the long run.

Website great or not

Use the website as an indication on whether the conveyancing lawyer behind the website is up to scratch. If the website is poorly designed and difficult to navigate it’s likely to be a reflection on the service you will receive. Professional’s who take pride in their online appearance certainly deserve an extra tick of approval.

How to become a developer when you have no money

propdev

An option is the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell property at an agreed price and terms during a certain period of time or on a specific date. It allows you to have access to a property despite not having legal ownership.

Most aspiring developers don’t have the cash to get started. If you have a keen eye for value adding, excellent negotiation skills and aren’t afraid of rejection – all you really need is an option to get started.

In addition to the option you will need some cash to pay for the option fee and initial planning costs. I’m certain in your newbie developer days you probably wont even have that. The key is to find someone who does and make them an offer they can’t refuse. Ask them to fund the option fee and initial planning costs for a percentage of the profit which will be realised at the end of the development. While they kick back and relax you do all the hard work, it’s a win/win situation for all.

It’s important that you do your research prior to entering into an option. Jump online, talk to agents and drive around the area. Find out what people want, what’s selling, what’s not selling and your target market (for example families, retirees, younger couples). This will help you determine your price point and conduct a feasibility on the land. Most of your costs are easy to determine but the end sale price will widely differ from area to area. For example a 4 lot townhouse development in Main Beach will sell for more than a development in Varsity Lakes. A feasibility is how you will determine how much you can pay the landowner for their land.

It may take some time to find a landowner who is willing to give you an option. A good way to entice landowners is by explaining that a development approval (DA) will improve the value of their land and will remain with the land even if you don’t buy the property. It’s also highly likely you will have to offer above market value for the land to get the owner on board – remember successful negotiators create a win/win situation for all!

During the option period you can do you’re due diligence and gain a DA on the land. You will then be able to exercise your option to buy the property using the equity you have created via your value adding DA exercise.

Once the option is signed complete your comprehensive due diligence. This includes architectural plans in line with Council’s planning scheme. A good way to see if council will support your vision is by driving around and seeing other developments in the area. As part of your initial planning you may also need to address issues such as planning overlays, slopes in the land and flooding.

Once you have the plans and basic reports to address any planning issues on the land book a pre-lodgement meeting with Council. This is a great opportunity to thrash out any objections Council may have with your vision. Once you have Councils feedback you may need to re-negotiate the price of the land with the owner, especially if Council has identified restraints on the land which you were unaware of at the time of negotiating the original terms with the owner. Alternatively if Council give the go-ahead proceed with the DA process.

A DA will typically cost you 10% of the value of the land. Once it’s in place the land will value more and you can settle the land based on the new valuation.

The development game is tough but it pays to be persistent!

Five top tips for marketing your conveyancing business that don’t include spending money

jims-25140-1

Looking to increase business for your conveyancing services?

Marketing can take on many shapes and forms. When people think of marketing they think of advertising – a 30 second radio spot, an advertisement in the local paper or a television ad. This article will reference five tips for marketing your conveyancing business that won’t cost a cent and don’t include advertising!

1.    Word of Mouth

The strongest form of marketing is word of mouth. Word of mouth is when someone talks about your brand and recommends your business to their connections – friends, family, work colleagues, neighbourhood butcher etc.

The number one rule when encouraging word of mouth is to provide great service. By providing great service your customer is more likely to spread the word about your business.

2.    Define your target audience

Marketing dollars and more importantly your time can be wasted by not correctly identifying your target audience. You should build a profile for your target audience, which may be multiple profiles. For instance as a conveyancing firm you may not want to target a 17 year old that lives with their parents. However, a 30 year old who lives with their parents and has recently proposed knot could be the ideal audience to market to. It’s important to identify their interests and what makes them tick to better understand how to market to them.

3.    Understand that you’re the brand, so flaunt it!

Yes, you’re the brand and you’re responsible for your business every waking moment. You’re probably thinking… another responsibility? Yes, you’re the jack-of-all-trades… the business owner, moneymaker, accountant, HR manager, decision maker, accountant… the list goes on. You also need to make sure your presentation is impeccable, your manners perfect, you’re friendly, approachable and courteous. Remember when meeting with people, whether they are the owner of a real estate firm or a store assistant you should treat each person the same as you never know when your next client will come from!

4.    Network like crazy

There are many ways to network. In the digital age you might think that the only way to network is to fire up your Internet connection and log into your favourite social platform and hit up a few mates. However, you cannot beat face-to-face contact. There are local council groups, business functions, fundraising activities, and university alumni groups. Always remember that networking is about human connections… never judge someone by their title… an office assistant may be more valuable than a general manager – so always remember your brand!

5.    Social profile

With so many social media platforms where do you begin? With a business, the professional service LinkedIn might be your best starting point. LinkedIn provides a superior networking channel for business. You may want to check your Facebook profile. Is it at least semi-professional? Since potential customers may due their due diligence and research you before doing business with you it’s important to ensure all social accounts are respectable.

You can see by the above list that you can market your business without spending any money. A great rule to live by is to take a step back from the business and consider yourself a customer. What would you like to see? How would you like to be served and treated? How often would you like to be contacted?

A Guide on how to appoint a Real Estate Agent

There is a lot to organise and consider before you actually see your property advertised on realestate.com.au.

What is my property worth?

Which real estate agent will I entrust to sell my property?

How much is the real estate agent’s commission?

Are there any other real estate agent fees I need to consider?

How do I appoint my real estate agent?

Are there any risks involved with appointing my agent?

When should I get my Conveyancing Lawyer involved?

A prudent seller would ask all of these questions and more. The intention of this article is to help guide you through some of the above unknowns.

 

Getting ready to sell

Shopping around for a real estate agent is an extremely important part of the selling process. Despite being required by law to negotiate the best possible price a bad agent may compromise getting you the best price for a sale. You want the right agent standing by your side for the best outcome. So when shopping around make sure you ask the right questions and don’t be afraid to negotiate. For example:

–               What does the marketing fee include? (Professional photos to enhance the online appeal of your property, adds on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au, how long will the adds remain on page one of those websites?)

–               What is the agent’s commission? Is it negotiable? When is the agent’s commission payable?

–               Are there any other fees you should be aware of (penalties for withdrawing your appointment of the agent)?

–               What’s the expected turn-around time for a sale?

A local agent will have more knowledge about the property market in your area. Ask 2-3 local agents to inspect your property and prepare a listing presentation. They will explain the state of the property market, what you are likely to get and set out a marketing plan. If you choose to set an asking price the agent must prepare a Comparative Market Analysis, which includes:

 

–          Comparative sales of at least 3 properties;

–          Which are of a similar standard or condition;

–          Have been sold within a 5 km radius or your property; and

–          Have been sold within the last 6 months.

If the agent cannot provide you with at least 3 properties then they must provide you with their market advice in writing and explain how they reached their opinion.

 

Appointing your Agent

In Queensland a real estate agent must be appointed in writing. There are 3 types of appointment, which determine who can sell the property and who is entitle to the commission when the property sells.

If you do not understand the agent’s rights pursuant to their appointment you could make the mistake of paying twice the agent’s commission.

It is therefore critical before you sign any legally binding agreement to appoint your agent (PAMDA Form 22a) you seek independent legal advice from your conveyancing lawyer. The types of agent appointment include:

Open Listing

This is the most flexible. You can list your property with different agents at the same time and you only pay the agent their commission if they sell your property. You or the agent can terminate this appointment at any time in writing.

At the expiry of an Exclusive or Sole Agency the appointment can continue to an Open Listing.

Exclusive Agency

The word “exclusive” is there for a reason. If you exclusively appoint an agent then that agent owns the rights to sell your property for the appointed term. Most importantly the agent is entitled to the commission regardless of who actually sells your property.

So, if during the appointment term, you are dissatisfied with you’re agent’s service and appoint a new agent who sells the property you may liable to pay 2 commissions (to each agent) and damages for breach of contract arising under the Exclusive Agency.

If you sell the property yourself you are still liable to pay the agents commission. The maximum term of appointment is 90 days.

Sole Agency

Similar to an Exclusive Agency if another agent sells your property during the term of a Sole Agency then you may be liable to pay 2 commissions (to each agent) and damages for breach of contract arising under the Sole Agency.

Unlike an Exclusive Agency if you sell the property yourself, then you will not be required to pay any agent’s commission. The maximum term of appointment is 90 days.

Jim’s Interior Design can help sell your home for more

jims-interior

Did you know Home Staging can return 7%-17% on a home sale and is one of the highest returns on investment you can make when organizing to sell your home?

Jim’s Interior Design is a professional design and staging service that will help you sort, fix and stage your home. Removing buyer objections by cleaning, decluttering and fixing your home, Jim’s Interior Design can help sell your home for more.

Download the ‘Jim’s Guide to Selling your Home for More’, for a comprehensive step by step guide of proven strategies to maximise your property value.

https://www.jimsinteriordesign.com.au/jims-guide-to-selling-your-home-for-more/

First Impressions, and why they matter

cxinlaw

It is an old adage we all know; first impressions always count. Going for the first job, going in to convert that client, your first impression should always be your best impression. In a world driven by customer experiences, it is therefore surprising that 78% of law firms fail to leave a positive first impression on prospective clients.

An article, author unknown, was published by the Law Society of New South Wales in October 2015, with some key findings from the research ‘No Second Chance: The Importance of First Impressions’. CXINLAW, specialist in customer experience, and the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) collaborated on the research over a wide range of legal firms and practices, and incorporating the secret shopper technique.

Having reflected on the results, Carl White, Director of CXINLAW (Australasia), had this to say,

“…It can’t be good when over half of the online enquiries received no response and when 40% of lawyers are conveying a tone of inconvenience when talking to a prospective client. Firms are spending significant money on branding and promotion, but then not delivering the service promised. Most clients do not know about law, but they know about great service”

This article can be found at http://www.lawsociety.com.au, or you find a copy of the research at http://www.cxinlaw.com

Bringing Lot Owners to the table

Majority always rules; except that time when the majority did not show up. It is a prevalent issue amongst Owners Corporation managers to achieve a majority vote at annual general and special general meetings. A particular problem if that leaky roof needs to be repaired.

Tom Bacon, principle lawyer of Strata Title lawyers, has shared his “tips and tricks for getting more bums on seats…

–       Announce the meeting date, time and location in as many forums as possible

–       Strongly encourage owners to give proxies to committee members or friends if they cannot attend

–       Schedule meetings for a time when people are most likely to attend

–       Publish an end time to the meeting and stick to it

–       Leave general business items for the end of the meeting

–       Plan a publicise a social event before or after the meeting and include food and drink

–       Give away door prizes or a raffle

–       Arrange for guest speakers such as local MPs, lawyers and architects

–       Acknowledge and thank all of the volunteer work that committee members have made”

 

The full article can be found here http://www.southbanklocalnews.com.au/images/uploads/pdf-archive/SLN_45.pdf

Redevelopment casts shadow over Yarra River

yarra-river

As planning controls forever tighten around inner city development, the trade-off of perceived “open space” for approval is a growing trend.

As reported by Sean Carr, Southbank Local News, Melbourne City Councillors are throwing their support behind a CBUS redevelopment of 447 Collins Street. In return for 2000sqm of open space, the proposed development could be allowed to cast a shadow, beyond the standard provisions of the planning scheme, over the north bank of the Yarra River.

Irrespective of a mass cry for more open space in the CBD, does it set a precedent for developers to bend rules?

Southbank Residents Association president Tony Penna would appear to agree…

“This is a contravention of the planning scheme as it currently stands, which is there to protect the south and north banks from overshadowing. There is no compromise.”

“If this council, or even this government, is going to all an exemption to overshadowing of the north bank, it sends a very dangerous message to developers that overshadowing is negotiable.”

The full article can be found here http://www.southbanklocalnews.com.au/editions/article/green-light-for-overshadowing_4825/

Changes to OTP Developer FIRB Applications for blanket pre-approval

firb

An article was recently released from Maddocks Canberra Lawyer in relation to blanket approvals of FIRB for off the plan developments of 100 lots or more.

As has been past practice, developers have been able to apply for blanket pre approval of FIRB for foreign investors and did not have to pay an application fee. This is now set to change from the 1 December 2015.

As reported by, David Hartney and Nick Holuigue, from Maddocks…

“Under the Proposed New Regime, a developer who wishes to apply for an Exemption Certificate will need to pay the following fees:

1.    $25,000 upon application

2.    Every six months, for each lot sold to a foreign purchaser during that period, a fee of:

a.    $5,000 where the purchase price for each lot sold is under $1,000,000

b.    where the purchase price of each lot is over $1,000,000, the fee is increased by $10,000 for every million or part thereof.

 To put this into context, based on the current Proposed New Regime, a developer who obtains an Exemption Certificate after 1 December 2015 and sells 200 lots (assuming under $1,000,000 purchase price per lot) to foreign purchasers will have to pay $1,025,000 to FIRB.”

The full article can be found here https://www.maddocks.com.au/reading-room/foreign-sales-firb-fee-hit-residential-developers/

Foreign investors feeling the sting of FIRB crackdown

Anyone who thought the federal government was going to fall short on their warning to foreign investors had best reconsider their position.

As reported by Lucy Macken, Domain.com.au, the federal government has forced the sale of an additional seven properties illegally owned by foreign investors, bringing the total to 19 since the reform in February 2015.

Foreign investors have up until the 30 November 2015 to voluntarily come forward to the Foreign Investment Review Board to avoid possible criminal and civil prosecution, after which time could face fines or imprisonment.

Read the article in full here