Monthly Archives: February 2014

What are Improvements, Inclusions and Exclusions in Conveyancing?

When you buy a property in NSW, what you are really buying is the land.
So when you are looking at that four bedroom house with the beautiful polished floors, an amazing chandelier in the foyer and with a wooden cubby house in the back yard, what you are really purchasing is a plot of dirt.

That’s why it’s so important to go through the contract in detail and really specify what you expect to be on that plot of dirt when you hand your money over!

On the NSW Contract for Sale of Land, what you want and what you don’t want are set out in three clear sections – Improvements, Inclusions and Exclusions.

Improvements are the structures that have been built on the land. This is where we specifically list what you are buying, for example a House, or Home Unit, a Garage or Carport. If you are buying vacant land, this will also be stated in this section.


Inclusions are a list of all the items in the house that you expect to remain in the property when you take ownership. Standard inclusions noted on the Contract are blinds, built-in wardrobes, clothes line, curtains, dishwasher, fixed floor coverings, insect screens, light fittings, range hood, stove, pool equipment and TV antenna. Some other common examples are air conditioner, ceiling fans, gas heater, security system etc.
Occasionally you may make an agreement with the seller to buy something that belongs to them and is not really a part of the house, so for example if there are not built in wardrobes in the property, you may agree to purchase a free standing wardrobe that they have in the bedroom as part of the Contract.
The idea here is to be as specific as you can about what you expect so that there are no surprises on settlement.
We have had clients on the day of settlement disappointed about comparatively small things, for example the owner removing tomato plants from the garden. If you really want that tomato plant, or chandelier, or whatever it may be for you, the best thing you can do is write it down on the Contract so you know exactly what you are getting and there are no arguments or unnecessary stress on settlement.


Exclusions are a list of anything that you specifically want taken off of the property before it becomes yours. Examples may be an aviary in the yard or a built in workbench in the garage if you plan to use that space for something else.
This is also the place that the owner may tell you if they plan to take something that you may have thought was included. In this case it would normally be something of sentimental value for example the owner wants to keep the curtains in the bedroom as they were made for them by their mother, or perhaps they wish to move the cubby house to their new home.

The whole system is designed to make sure that you know exactly what to expect on the day of settlement.

Remember, ambiguity is the enemy of the law, so take the time to set out exactly what you and do not want on your Contract.

Why wouldn’t settlement take place on the Contract date?

What reasons could settlement be delayed?
Can you guarantee the settlement date?

These are some of the most common questions I get asked during a conveyancing matter. Of course – I completely understand why! You need to know what date you’re getting your money, what day you need to book the removalist for and bribe all your friends to help you move. It’s one of the most important factors for you when you are buying or selling property.

Unfortunately I can’t guarantee the settlement date any more than I can guarantee that I personally will be alive tomorrow to help you with your conveyancing. I certainly plan to be – but some things are just outside of our control – and I only make guarantees that I know I can honour.

With the property market starting to heat up, and particularly just after the Christmas break, I’ve noticed an increase of properties not settling on the agreed date under the Contract. This is probably caused partly by buyers entering into Contracts before they were ready in fear of missing out on the property to somebody else, and partly by losing some of the working days over the Christmas break for conveyancers, solicitors and banking institutions to process their paperwork in time for the settlement date.

In January we had 6 files not settle on the agreed Contract date and for each file the reason was because either the discharging or incoming mortgagee was not ready.

So the best lessons we can learn from these facts is that you should have your pre-approval ready with your chosen financial institution before you go looking at property, and then when you find the right house tell them straight away so they can give you the formal unconditional approval on that property. Find somebody accountable, it helps if they are also local, that you can check in with at your bank or building society so you can make sure that they will be ready for settlement.

You certainly can’t choose the timing of finding the right home, or the right buyer for your home, but if it happens around Public Holidays, consider lengthening the Contract time a little to allow financial institutions sufficient time to be ready. This may mean that settlement is a little longer than you would have ideally wanted, but you will be more likely to have your settlement go through on the intended date. Particularly if you are exchanging Contracts with your Real Estate Agent, you could suggest this option to them, and call your Conveyancer and lender before exchange to ask if they believe they can meet the expected settlement date. For example, over this past Christmas break our office returned to work on 2 January 2014, most other firms returned on 6 January 2014, and some didn’t come back until 20 January 2014. Everybody deserves a holiday, but obviously the amount of working days dictate when the matter will be ready for settlement, and this is a problem that can be foreseen, and worked around to give you a more reliable settlement date.

Lastly, be aware that even if every person does everything right – your property matter may still not settle on time.
Unfortunately disasters do happen from time to time and may mean that settlement is delayed, for example: – If the tenant doesn’t move out; if a caveat is lodged to say a person has an interest in the property; if the property is vandalised, or has storm damage, or if there’s a fire in the property.

But rest assured that the vast majority of property settlements do, in fact, take place on their Contract date.