What is a settlement?

It’s not a silly question. We’re often asked “what is a settlement?“.


Settlement is the process by which a contract to buy and sell real estate is completed.  At settlement, legal title to the property is transferred from seller to buyer in exchange for the balance of the purchase price. Settlement is also the name given to that period of time, usually around 5 or 6 weeks, between the signing of a real estate contract and completion of the title transfer – the day that “settlement goes through“.

Settlement representative

Both buyer and seller appoint their own settlement representative – a lawyer or licensed settlement agent. The same settlement representative may act for both parties provided they both consent.

The WA Department of Commerce says “the main difference between employing a settlement agent as opposed to a lawyer is that settlement agents are not qualified to give you legal advice. However, a settlement agent is required by law to let you know when it is a good idea to get legal advice.

Your settlement lawyer or settlement agent will assist you to complete all the necessary paperwork and all the promises to be fulfilled in the contract for the sale of the property. These services are also known as conveyancing.  Likewise a lawyer and settlement agent providing these services is also know as a conveyancer.


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