We had a chat recently with Tammie Sanders, the Senior Conveyancer at Orion Settlements in Mandurah, about the property settlement industry, what’s involved, and the services Orion offer.
What are the services Orion offer?
Orion Settlements cover all types of property settlements for freehold titles. Primarily we complete transactions involving residential, vacant land, commercial and strata titled properties. Our services are not only limited to a person selling or buying a property, we also manage other transactions; including application for lost titles, application by survivorship in the event of a deceased proprietor or application by executors of estates. Our in house lawyers at Petherick Cottrell Lawyers can also manage the lodgement and withdrawal of caveats.
Why does settlement exist at all? What isn’t it “I just hand over my house and I get the money?”
A settlement agent prepares the legal documentation required in order to transfer the ownership of a property from a seller to a buyer and complete the financial transaction. There are many aspects involved in the transfer of ownership of a property and a settlement agent is there to act in your best interest. As part of the settlement transaction settlement agents check to ensure all the promises in the contract have been fulfilled, make the necessary enquiries about the property such as title searches, notification/interests and encumbrance searches, rates, taxes and orders or requisitions with the local council. Its important to have an experienced professional acting on your behalf at settlement.
What sort of things might that be?
An example of an issue that may be raised during settlement is if there was an unapproved structure at the property and the buyer was unaware. If this is held on the local authorities database, it should be made available during our orders and requisitions search. This is why it’s important for your settlement agent to undertake these checks during the settlement process.
Where do your clients come from? Referrals from agents or people that seek you out.
Repeat clients and referrers. We take a lot of pride in what we do and the level of service we provide. This is how we have become to be in a very short period of time. Orion Settlements is only a few years old and during this time has successfully continued to build its clientele. Our repeat clients and referrers are generated simply by offering a profound level of service, updates, feedback often and has been built simply overtime by offering a great service.
Have you started to see any repeat business?
Yes definitely, repeat business is important to us and we are passionate about helping people find the settlement process as stress free as possible.
So you’ve personally been in the industry for a while?
Yes, I actually started working in the real estate and settlement industry when I was 16 years old. I have been very privileged to have worked in both real estate and settlement agencies during this time having completed my real estate agents licence when I was 18 was a large asset to my career in the settlement industry. Having the knowledge of a property sale and settlement from the very start of a transaction right through to settlement has allowed me advantages for clients to help make the process as streamlined and stress free as possible.
What changes have you seen in the field since this time?
There have been many changes to the industry during this time. With some of the most recent being the most significant to improving the settlement industry. These changes include, As of the 1st of December all eligible transactions must be completed using PEXA (Property Exchange Australia) (Electronic Conveyancing) and the requirement to complete a verification of identity for both sellers and buyers, this is extremely important in remaining vigilant against property fraud. Some smaller but significant changes include the requirement to lodge all contracts with the office of state revenue within 2 months of date of contract, failure to do so can involve penalties or the newly invoked Foreign Investment Duty – a higher stamp duty rate for foreign investors. All of these changes are important to paving the way to improving an already great industry.
How are you finding that system?
I feel the PEXA system is very good and really brings the conveyancing industry to a new level. One of the biggest benefits for clients (sellers) is that the money transfers are almost immediate, this means that funds are received much faster than has been seen in previous years. It also aids in the way we liaise with other professionals, making it far more efficient communicating with mortgagees, helping to achieve settlement in a timely manner.
How do you find having a lawyer in-house with Petherick Cottrell Lawyers?
This is an extremely important aspect for our agency. Settlement agents must abide by the settlement agents code of conduct, the importance of this and having the law firm available is that a settlement agent under the code of conduct “must if it is necessary or prudent, recommend to a the client that they seek the advice of a lawyer in respect of a transaction or a part of a transaction” Having the availability of lawyers in our office means that our clients have this service readily available and they can use this immediately, should they choose to.
Do you personally utilise having the lawyers there?
Yes I do, in the event I am unsure of any aspect of a transaction I will liaise with our senior lawyers as required.
Is there anything you’re doing to try and build your repeat client base?
Not intentionally, I am very passionate about offering good customer service, offering my clients a level of service that exceeds their expectations is very important to me. Being able to go above and beyond naturally aids in building repeat clientele.
What do people appreciate the most in a settlement?
I feel that what is important to most people is contact and regular updates. Buying and selling property is the most stressful thing people will do in their lifetime. Being able to pick up the phone and ask the questions is very valuable and I will often talk with my clients at 8pm at night or I have my emails straight to my phone so if required I can respond immediately. This makes a stressful process far less daunting.
If someone is interested in either learning more about Orion or Employing your services, as either a property buyer or seller at what point in the process should they make contact with you?
On the offer and acceptance there is usually a place to nominate your chosen settlement agency, this lets the real estate agent know who they need to provide written instructions to so the settlement agent can commence their file. It is a good idea to have your settlement agent nominated at this time, however most people will obtain a settlement quote at the time of offer exchange (once the offer and acceptance has been completed) Once they have obtained a settlement quote they are happy to proceed on and if it has not been nominated on the offer and acceptance, then they just need to notify their real estate agent and myself. The real estate agent will provide our office with formal written instructions and we will commence with our file.