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Conveyancing

Conveyancing refers to the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. When it comes to buying or selling a property, there is actually a lot of legal and administrative work to do before completion.

For Buyers

For Sellers

If you are obtaining a mortgage, a conveyancing solicitor acts on behalf of the buyer and the lender to ensure that all the lender’s conditions in the mortgage offer before funds can be requested.

A conveyancer assists to redeem any existing loan, apportion outstanding property tax payments, prepare the discharge documents and other essential paperwork.

For the majority of Singaporeans, property transactions are likely to occur only once or twice in their entire life. With such a huge sum at stake, it is essential to get things right from the get-go.

To help buyers get a clearer view of the conveyancing process, we decided to present a sneak peek into the duties that come with engaging a conveyancing lawyer.

1) Research

We all know that research is of utmost importance when considering any property. However, apart from your prospective home’s conditions, there are a few other things that a conveyancer could assist you to look into:

  • Eligibility: Under the Residential Property Act, there are certain restrictions on who is allowed to purchase what type of residential property. Special permissions may be required before a sale can proceed. Additionally, HDB buyers also need to take note of the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP).
  • Land / floor area: How large the land or floor area of the property is.
  • Price: Price of the property, including other fees in the conveyancing process like property taxes and stamp duties.
  • Financing options: Your payment options for the property, in particular requesting a bank loan or using CPF funds to offset any amount.

2) Title Search

In addition to these, a conveyancer will also conduct a title search to find out more information about the property. Through the title search, they will attempt to confirm that a seller has a “good root of title”. This means that his title to the property is not defective to the extent that the property cannot be marketed. If the seller does not have a good root of title, it is inadvisable to proceed with the transaction until the defects have been remedied. 

Information found through a title search:

  • Property title and tenure: This refers to whether the property is freehold or leasehold and the total remaining years on the lease.
  • Encumbrances (if any): Whether the property is protected by caveats or has been mortgaged. Should any such encumbrances be found, additional steps will need to be taken to remove them (if possible).
  • Name of registered proprietor(s): The full names of the owners of the property
  • Manner of ownership holding: This is especially important when there are multiple owners of the same property (Joint Tenancy or Tenancy in Common). The sale proceeds will be divided and distributed according to the manner of holding.

3) Signing the Contract(s) & Making Payment

Depending on whether the property to be transacted is a new launch or resale, the entire conveyancing process may take as quickly as 8 weeks to as long as 5 years (until construction is complete).

New Launch

Resale

  1. Go to the show flat
  2. Place a 5% booking fee
  3. Appoint a lawyer
  4. Obtain a bank loan
  5. Execute the sale and purchase agreements
  6. Start paying off the stage/progress payments. 
  1. View the property
  2. Place an Option Fee (typically 1%)
  3. Exercise the option 
  4. Place the deposit
  5. Appoint a lawyer
  6. Obtain a bank loan
  7. Execute the sale and purchase agreements
  8. Pay the balance purchase price

4) Taking Possession & Transfer of Title

When the property is ready to be transferred, the seller will give vacant possession of it to the buyer. Before accepting the handover, the buyer should carefully inspect the property to ensure that it is free from defects. If any are discovered, they should be reported to the seller for rectification.

Once everything has been verified as in order, the buyer will receive:

  • A certificate of title
  • A transfer form
  • The keys to the property

This completes the entire transaction.

What can go wrong?

There are many steps involved in the process of transacting a property. Although it may seem straightforward, there are numerous details that can go awry if care is not taken—titles may be lost over the years or the measurements of a property may differ from what is on the original title.

To avoid these pitfalls, it is highly advisable to engage someone who knows all the ins and outs of real estate law and is qualified to advise you if steps are needed to prevent or remedy any situation.

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