Buying and Selling Real Estate in Australia (Updated)

International Lawyers Network


The majority of land in Australia consists of freehold title. Registration of ownership of freehold title is recorded using the Torrens system. The Torrens system is a system of title by registration. This means that an interest will only be a legal interest if it is registered on title. Once the interest is registered, that interest is indefeasible and takes priority over all other interests. Both the vendor selling the land and the purchaser purchasing the land execute a legal document transferring ownership. Once settlement of the property has occurred, the transfer document is registered. Each State and Territory in Australia has its own register. The purchaser becomes the registered proprietor of the land, which is recorded on the Torrens title register. The registered proprietor is issued with a specific certificate of title for the property which typically contains a volume and folio number and a plan identifying the land, details of any restrictions (e.g., a covenant) affecting the land and details of any encumbrances (e.g., mortgage). Titles may comprise of land or spaces defined by a plan.

In recent years, property settlements and registration of interests on the Torrens system have been effected electronically through the Property Exchange Australia platform (“PEXA”). One of the key benefits of using PEXA is that registration of interests is effected immediately. Certificates of title were previously issued only in paper, but now titles can be issued electronically.

Please see full publication below for more information.

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