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The summer months in New South Wales can be an exciting time to switch properties.

There are however some traps to watch out for and things to consider during the conventional Christmas holiday period.

Most lawyers and conveyancers take holidays during this period and additionally, there are a number of public holidays in the period.

If you enter into a contract to buy or sell a property prior to the Christmas holiday period you should check that your solicitor or conveyancer includes or negotiates a clause into the contract specifying that the settlement date falls outside the traditional Christmas closedown period (usually around 23 of December through to the end of the first week in January).

If you do not do this, the result may be anxiety or some financial loss to you. The clauses in a land sale contract create obligations on both the seller and the buyer to complete the conveyancing transaction on a specified date. If this cannot be achieved due to the fact that your conveyancing representative is not around to carry out the work, then if you are a vendor you might pay additional interest on your mortgage loan. If you are purchaser, you may suffer default interest owed for late payment or face even more serious consequences for the failure to settle on time.

Another matter to consider is that you might find a property to buy whilst you are on holidays or indeed as a vendor a buyer may come along during the holiday period. In such a case you may not be able to get advice from your solicitor or conveyancer straightaway. Although some solicitors or conveyancers may be available to assist you during the holiday period, many have taken their treasured annual holiday with their families at this time and are out of contact. Whilst a real estate agent may be available at the time who holds a marketing sales contract and is able to negotiate a price between the parties, both parties will be wishing to seek advice from their professional conveyancer prior to committing to the transaction.

The real estate agent may suggest that the parties enter into the contract subject to a cooling-off period. In the case of the vendor, there is still a need to seek advice on the contract which may need updating or otherwise finalising and bear in mind that the cooling-off period does not apply to a vendor. Under New South Wales law the vendor does not have the benefit of withdrawing from the contract during the cooling-off period.

The purchaser, however, does have the benefit of the cooling-off period and can enter into the contract subject to the statutory five business day cooling-off period. A forfeiture of 0.25% of the price applies if the purchaser withdraws from the contract during this period. The cooling-off period does not run during public holidays or on weekends and may be extended upon negotiation between the vendor and the purchaser. If a purchaser’s solicitor or conveyancer is not available when a sale has been negotiated, the cooling-off period, especially if extended, may give the purchaser sufficient time to seek professional advice prior to becoming completely committed to the transaction. So, this assists a purchaser, who must be cautioned however to ensure that his or her solicitor or conveyancer will have sufficient time to properly advise prior to the end of the cooling-off period.

In summary, it is most important to take on board, that if you are considering dealing in real estate during a Christmas holiday period, you should contact our experienced and friendly conveyancing team to discuss the above matters well prior to the commencement of the holiday period.

Please note our firm is closing from 5:15pm on 23 December 2020 and we will reopen at 8:45am on 11 January 2021.


Image Credit – Natalya Osipova ©