The day I learned that double-checking isn’t enough when it comes to contract admin
It was meant to be one of those special days in conveyancing, when you get to see the thrill in the eyes or hear the joy in the voice of your client as you confirm the purchase has officially settled. Personally I think those moments are one of the major perks of the job.
So it was a bit of a buzzkill to say the least when, after requesting the bank to sign off a settlement on PEXA one Friday, we were informed that there was an existing mortgage encumbrance on the title.
Therefore, there would be no popping of champagne corks by our purchaser on their new patio until a discharge had been prepared and executed the next week.
Hang on… how did this happen?
Of course, we’d checked the title search in the contract and there was no mortgage noted. And the vendor’s camp had confirmed that there was indeed no mortgage on the property.
But the banks are rarely wrong, and sure enough after some snooping around I found the mystery mortgage, sitting under the Land Titles tab on PEXA – a perplexing surprise for me, the vendor’s lawyer, and the vendor.
Under the radar bridging loan
It turns out the vendor had taken out a bridging loan after the initial contract exchange, and was simply unaware that it had to be discharged. Thankfully, the vendor was very accommodating, and our purchaser was able to move in as planned while we waited for the outgoing bank to be ready for settlement.
Which was just plain lucky, because without such an understanding vendor, our client could literally have been homeless for the weekend waiting for the unexpected paperwork to happen - and I strongly suspect their review of our services may not have been so glowing.
Luck, learnings & the Land Titles tab
Charitable vendors and Lady Luck aside, this drop of the ball did teach me a valuable lesson that has served me well ever since. Even if you’ve performed the title search on a property for any encumbrance, and you’ve double checked with the owner and their representatives, you still need to triple check, with a little click on PEXA’s Land Titles tab.
You can thank me later ;-)
Judith Hammerschlag is a lawyer, conveyancer and cofounder of Contrax, an Australian, family-owned contract admin software platform designed especially for conveyancing practitioners. You can find out more about Contrax by calling 02 9884 7473 during Australian business hours – or visit contrax.com.au.