When buying a property, the house hunting and finalisation of the settlement date are just the beginning of the process. When a property changes hands, there is a lot of work that happens between the acceptance of an offer and the handing over of the keys. With all of the complex work that happens in the interim, you may be wondering how long does a property settlement take?

There are many factors that may impact this timeline, and our team of experts have pulled together everything you need to know, so you can be armed with knowledge.


What is a property settlement?

Property settlement refers to the legal process of property transfer from one party to another. This isn’t a straightforward exchange of the purchase price; it also includes financing from your bank, pre-settlement adjustments such as stamp duty, concessions, grants, and compensating the seller for costs such as council rates, water rates, and body corporate fees.

While buying a home might feel like a marathon, property settlement is indeed the finish line where you take legal possession of the property. This process can include conducting a pre-settlement inspection, checking and signing transfer documents, registering the transfer of ownership with the relevant government agency, and making the final payment to the seller. Typically, a conveyancer or solicitor assists with this process, ensuring that all necessary steps are accurately completed.

A Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) is a legal document summarising how property, assets, and financial obligations will be divided between divorcing or separating parties. It becomes especially critical in a divorce, as it defines each spouse’s rights, responsibilities, and obligations regarding property and financial matters.

Key elements of a Property Settlement Agreement include the identification of assets and liabilities. This may include real estate, personal property, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, loans, mortgages, and credit card debts. The agreement also specifies how these assets and liabilities will be divided. It can include arrangements for spousal and child support, division of retirement accounts, maintenance of life insurance policies, and the tax implications of the property and financial settlement.

The agreement should also be clear that it is binding on both parties and can be enforced in court. If applicable, both parties and their attorneys should sign the agreement, and the execution date should be stated.

Navigating the property settlement process requires legal help. Always seek legal advice to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

How long does it take to settle on a house?

There are many factors that impact how long settlement may take, and the times from signing to settlement can vary. The usual period is between 30 and 90 days but it will vary depending on the circumstances of the buyer and what is attractive to the seller.  The default at auction is 30 days and if that doesn’t suit, then a buyer may negotiate a longer settlement but that needs to be done prior to the auction.

What can cause delays in property settlement?

Errors: Some vendors or purchasers choose to do the conveyancing themselves. But due to the complexity of property settlements, there may be errors. This is why we always recommend engaging an experienced conveyancer instead. There is also the risk of the bank making an error. This may happen because of documentation mix ups, cheques with wrong information or clerical errors. 

Finance: Sometimes, finance that was arranged becomes unavailable or new information leads to different terms being offered. Given that finance needs to be in place ready for transfer at settlement, this can cause delays.

Buyers and sellers: it is not uncommon for vendors/purchasers to ask for an extended settlement period during contract negotiations. This may be because the purchaser needs extra time to arrange finance or complete the sale of another house. But this extension will come as no surprise, because both parties need to agree to the settlement date when the sale contract is finalised.

How long does settlement take on the day?

On settlement day, the parties to the transaction get together and make it happen. If there is an existing mortgage over the property, that mortgage needs to be discharged, and the property will need to be transferred to the seller.

All parties involved sign and exchange the updated documents; usually this happens online using one of the property exchange platforms. Your new place is finally yours, although you might be sharing it with the bank for a while. You will get a call from one of our conveyancers with the good news and then it’s time to move in.

Depending on how the above process goes, settlement on the day can take anywhere from an hour to all day.

Learn more: 

  • Buying off the plan
  • Changing your title details
  • Process and steps for buying and selling a house

Do you move on settlement day?

Settlement day is the day you legally become the owner of the property. This means there are things like bank processes that need to be finalised and contracts to be signed. So, it is technically a possibility to move in on settlement day, but if any of these things are delayed you may be in trouble. We suggest you wait until settlement day to confirm your move-in day.

What should I do the day before my settlement?

Settlement day can be stressful, so it pays to get all your ducks in a row before the day comes. The day before your your settlement day you should:

  • Re-confirm with your bank that you have the cleared funds available in your account.
  • Approve the settlement statement
  • Speak to your solicitor to ensure that any mortgage another lender had over the property has been removed

How long after settlement do you receive your money?

When asking how long does a property settlement take, you may be looking for some scope on when you’ll be receiving money after selling a property. As we mentioned above, the settlement time may vary depending on your circumstances, therefore there is no one answer. However, you can reasonably expect to receive the money from the sale within 30-90 days.

Who can help with the settlement process?

When looking to purchase a home, especially if you’re a first home buyer, there can be many hidden costs of buying a house. This is why it’s so important to engage a professional conveyancer to ensure there are no surprises. At Eckermanns we have been arranging the settlements of South Australians for more than 40 years, and are South Australia’s most trusted property experts.

Still wondering how long does a property settlement take?

With such a long history in the conveyancing business, we’ve come across the smooth and the truly bumpy. However, if you have worked with us before, you’ll know we take smoothing the bumps for you very seriously. So whether you’re asking how long does a property settlement take or what must you disclose when selling a house, we have you covered.

We call it friction-free conveyancing and we have become adept at working out where problems tend to lurk and how to troubleshoot them. Our communication is second to none and we will take the time to explain the steps and procedures so that there are no surprises. Check out our reviews – our clients tell our story best.

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