5 Costs to Factor in When Buying a Home

5 Costs to Factor in When Buying a Home


If you are currently in the process of buying, looking or saving for a house, there are extra costs beyond the property’s price tag that you need to know about.

1. Transfer duty (previously known as stamp duty)

When you purchase a property in NSW, you are required to pay transfer duty. This is a tax on property which varies depending on the value of the property. Generally, you will pay more transfer duty if the property you are purchasing is expensive.

2. Pest and building inspections

Before purchasing property, it is recommended that you have pest and building inspections to determine the property’s condition and to avoid problems and extra costs in the long run. These inspections are especially important for older properties. Make sure you appoint a qualified person such as a licensed builder, surveyor or architect.

3. Mortgage registration

You are required to pay a fee to formally register your mortgage in NSW. This mortgage registration payment is required by the state government to register the security for a home loan. This is important as it allows any potential buyers to check claims against the title of your property.

4. Loan application or establishment fee

When you take out a home loan, you may be required to pay an establishment fee. This payment may be required by the bank to pay for the setting up of your home loan. However, some lenders will waive this fee, so it may be worthwhile to ask.

5. Mortgage insurance

If you are borrowing more than 80% of the property value, you may be required to pay ‘Lenders Mortgage Insurance’ (LMI).  The lender’s valuation of the property determines this fee.

Further Information

It is important that buyers are aware of any additional costs which may be required when purchasing a property. If you have any questions or concerns, we can provide additional information and advice to you regarding your situation. If you would like to discuss your concerns with a legal professional please contact us on 9963 9800 or at law@etheringtons.com.au

The benefits of mediation in a commercial dispute

Lawyers are often stereotyped as being interested in prolonging an expensive court action. More often the opposite is true.

Lawyers know that court cases are expensive and that clients are fearful that legal costs could escalate to an intolerable level. Lawyers interested in preserving long standing relationships with their clients will often recommend alternative dispute resolution options. Mediation is one of those options.

What exactly is mediation?

Mediation allows parties to remain in control of their own disputes and outcome while facilitating parties to tell their side of the story to the other party and the mediator.

Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution. Others include Early Neutral Evaluation, Expert Determination and Arbitration.

In essence, mediation is an informal conflict resolution process brought before an independent, neutral third party. Mediation gives the parties the opportunity to discuss their issues, clear up misunderstandings, and find areas of agreement in a way that would never be possible in a court case.

Mediation is often voluntary. Typically the mediator has no authority to make a binding decision unless both parties agree to give the mediator that power.  This is dealt with in advance of the mediation commencing.

When parties should consider mediation

In practical terms mediation is likely to be quicker and more cost-effective than the more formal processes of arbitration or litigation (in court). Mediation should be considered as early as possible after a dispute has arisen. It is particularly appropriate where a dispute involves complex issues and/or multiple parties.

In addition, mediation can be implemented prior to, or in conjunction with, other forms of dispute resolution such as arbitration or court proceedings.

In circumstances where privacy and confidentiality are important, mediation enables parties to preserve these rights without public disclosure. This often leads to more satisfactory outcomes for both parties.

Advantages of mediation

There are many advantages. In summary these can be described as:

You get to decide

The responsibility and authority for coming to an agreement remain with the people who have the conflict. The dispute is viewed as a problem to be solved. The mediator doesn’t make the decisions, and you don’t need to “take your chances” in the courtroom.

In doing this however, you need to understand your legal rights so that you can make decisions that are in your own best interests.

The focus is on needs and interests

Mediation examines the underlying causes of the problem and looks at what solutions best suit your unique needs and satisfy your interests.

For a continuing relationship

Colleagues, business partners, and family members have to continue to deal with each other co-operatively. Going to court can divide people and increase hostility. Mediation looks to the future. It helps end the problem, not the relationship.

Mediation deals with feelings

Each person is encouraged to tell their own story in their own way. Discussing both legal and personal issues can help you develop a new understanding of yourself and the other person. You are encouraged to see things from the other person’s perspective.

Higher satisfaction

Participants in mediation report higher satisfaction rates than people who go to court. Because of their active involvement, they have a higher commitment to upholding the settlement than people who have a judge decide for them. Mediation ends in agreement about 80% of the time and has high rates of compliance.


Mediation can be a less intimidating process than going to court. Since there are no strict rules of procedure, this flexibility allows the people involved to find the best path to agreement.  Although it is normal for any dispute resolution to be taxing emotionally, mediation is a process that is much less confronting and is conducted in a much more comfortable environment than litigation

Faster than going to court

Years may pass before a case comes to trial, while a mediated agreement may be obtained in a couple of hours or in sessions over a few weeks.

Lower cost

The court process is expensive and costs can exceed benefits. It may be more important to apply that money to solving the problem, to repairing damages, or to paying someone back. Mediation services are available at low cost for some types of cases. If you can’t agree, other legal options are still possible. Even a partial settlement can lessen later litigation fees.


Unlike most court cases, which are matters of public record, most mediations are confidential.

Where mediation is not the solution

With mediation, a resolution is not guaranteed. There is the potential that parties may invest time and money in trying to resolve a dispute out of court and still end up having to go to court. Ultimately, it is a call that should be made in consultation with an experienced lawyer.

Mediation should not be a solution in circumstances where it is not appropriate. For example, where a court remedy is necessary such as an injunction or seeking specific urgent court orders.

It must also be remembered that the mediator has no power to impose a binding decision on the parties. Therefore, even after the mediation the matter may be unresolved and you may still need to go to court. (This is where the selection of the Mediator requires careful consideration by all parties).

Fundamentally, mediation rarely produces a satisfactory resolution unless both parties to a dispute are committed to a resolution.


Navigating the court system can be a financially and emotionally costly and time-consuming process. Mediation is an alternative. It is suitable for people who are willing to communicate with the other party and attempt to better understand and settle their dispute with the help of a trained third party.

To find out more call us on (02) 9963 9800 or email law@etheringtons.com.au.

Swimming Pool Compliance

If you’re the owner of a Torrens title property that has a swimming pool, you need to be aware of your obligations in relation to swimming pool compliance. Due to the preventable drownings that occur in swimming pools in Australia, a requirement has been placed on pool owners to ensure that their swimming pools are compliant with NSW regulations. This blog will briefly review the compliance and who it applies to.

Who does the compliance apply to?

The compliance for swimming pools applies to all swimming pools and spa pools that are capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 30cm and are used for swimming, wading, paddling or any kind of human aquatic activity. Every pool owner must register their pool with the New South Wales Government Swimming Pool Register and also have a compliance certificate from either the council or a private swimming pool certifier. This is particularly important if a swimming pool owner plans to sell their property, as a certificate of compliance (or non-compliance) must be attached to the contract for sale. A failure to do so can result in a purchaser being able to rescind the contract.

Certificate of Compliance

A certificate of compliance can be issued by either the local council or a private certifier. In granting the certificate, the certifier will consider a number of safety items such as the fence and enclosure surrounding the swimming pool and the closure on the gate. The objective is to ensure that children do not inadvertently get into the pool area without the intervention of an adult. Once either the council or the certifier have assessed the swimming pool they may provide you with a certificate of compliance. The certificate of compliance can be attached to a contract for sale and it will remain valid for three years from the date of issue.

Certificate of Non-Compliance

If the local council or a certifier inspects your swimming pool or spa and they determine it is not compliant, they may issue you with a non-compliance certificate.  This certificate lists the reasons that the pool does not comply with the regulations and the items that need to be corrected before a certificate of compliance can be issued.

If the pool is deemed a risk to public safety, the swimming pool owner must rectify the non-compliant issues within a certain amount of time.

If the pool is not deemed to be a risk to public safety, the owner must still attend to the issues of non-compliance, however if the pool owner is selling the property containing the swimming pool the owner must attach this certificate of non-compliance to the contract for sale.

The effect of this is that it passes on the obligation to rectify the issues of non-compliance to the purchaser and the purchaser will have ninety days from the date of completion in which to correct the issues raised in the certificate of non-compliance and to receive a certificate of compliance.

A property owner should consult with their solicitor if they are selling their property to ensure that the appropriate certificate is attached to the contract or conversely, if a purchaser is looking at a property that has a swimming pool and either of those certificates are attached they should seek legal advice.

If you would like any further information about swimming pool compliance, please contact our friendly solicitors on 9963 9800 or at law@etheringtons.com.au.

Compulsory Acquisition

New infrastructure in Sydney is continuously being developed to keep up with the demands of a growing population. To build such infrastructure, a public authority – such as the New South Wales government or a local council – may compulsorily acquire some or all of your property to create the space necessary for construction. Some recent examples include the WestConnex project in Haberfield and the Victoria Cross Metro Station in North Sydney.

Compulsory acquisitions can leave property owners feeling frustrated and helpless, and it can be an upsetting and confusing time. However, it is important to know you have more power than you may think.

An experienced solicitor can work with you to ensure you obtain the best compensation for your loss of property. A solicitor’s reasonable legal fees for assisting you in the acquisition process will be covered by the acquiring authority so you will have peace of mind knowing that you will not have to pay for the work performed in receiving advice.

A solicitor can help you by:

  1. Knowing what your property is really worth

A solicitor will help you engage experts who can accurately calculate your property’s financial value. The public authority acquiring your land will retain a valuer to estimate what they believe your property is worth, but it is often skewed towards the acquiring authority, which may not reflect the property’s true worth. It is important that you engage a solicitor who can help you ascertain the true value of your property.

  1. Ensuring you receive the maximum payment

There are a number of costs associated with the compulsory acquisition of your property including conveyancing fees and real estate agent’s commission (for the purchase of a new property) and removalist’s costs and legal fees (for the acquisition of your property). The purpose of the compensation provided by the acquiring authority is to leave you in the same financial position you would have been in but for the acquisition. A solicitor will ensure that compensation includes the hidden costs of acquisition that are often unrecovered.

  1. Negotiating

A solicitor can help you to prepare for negotiations with the acquiring authority. Even though the acquiring authority will send you an initial offer, your solicitor can assist you with your negotiations to ensure that you receive a fair dollar amount for the acquisition of your property. We will act on your behalf throughout the discussions and negotiations with the acquiring authority to ensure you achieve the best result.

  1. Putting together your claim

Our solicitors can assist with putting together all aspects of your claim to present to the acquiring authority. We can ensure that you will present a counter offer which is well-supported and well-documented so that you have the best chance of achieving a fair result.

  1. Guiding you through the process

One of the many benefits of engaging a solicitor through this process is that we will support you every step of the way and you can feel assured that you are in capable hands.

Etheringtons Solicitors has acted in numerous compulsory acquisitions cases for our clients, including for properties acquired for the Victoria Cross Metro Station in North Sydney, Martin Place and Pitt Street Metro Stations in Sydney CBD and Waterloo Metro Station in Waterloo.

If you have been or think you will be affected by a compulsory acquisition and would like assistance in ensuring you are provided fair compensation, please contact us on 9963 9800 or at law@etheringtons.com.au

The Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor

What Is the Difference Between a Barrister and a Solicitor?

Barristers and solicitors are both people who can assist with your legal matters. The difference between a barrister and a solicitor is the type of legal work they do. In general, a barrister specialises in making court appearances and speaking on your behalf. However, a solicitor often does the preparation work before your court appearance and liaises with the barrister.

Commonly, a solicitor will look after your case initially. They will then refer it to a barrister for court advice and appearances. Barristers don’t liaise directly with clients, so your solicitor will continue to be your contact for the duration of the case.

When to Involve a Barrister in Your Matter

Clients often ask at what stage we will involve barristers in their matter.  A good way to think about it is that solicitors are like general practitioners and barristers are like specialists. Barristers work in particular areas of law and often speak at court.

Sometimes solicitors will discuss your case with a barrister and ask them to provide a written opinion on the prospects of your case. They might also ask their opinion on a specific issue. If a matter is complex or unusual, barristers might also be involved in the drafting of court documents.

Barrister Costs

Similarly to solicitors, barristers are required to provide you with an estimate of their costs. This is also known as disclosure. However, their costs agreement and disclosure documents are issued to the solicitor or firm. The solicitor (or firm) is liable to pay the fees, which they will pass on to you in an invoice.

Barristers usually charge an hourly rate. They can also charge a daily rate, especially for court attendances or mediation sessions. Some barristers will charge a cancellation fee if a hearing settles or is adjourned.

Choosing a Barrister

You solicitor will choose a barrister based on factors including:

  1. Your financial circumstances;
  2. The type of matter it is; and
  3. Which barrister they believe is most suitable.

A barrister can be perfectly suited to one type of case but not another. Sometimes you will have your own choice of barrister.

If you need any legal advice or assistance we are here to help. If you would like to discuss the involvement of a barrister in your legal matter contact us today.

Drink Driving Penalties NSW

Drink driving penalties NSW – everyone knows that driving under the influence (DUI) is an offence in NSW. However, not everyone understands exactly what the implications are if you are caught. It is easy to feel like you are okay after a couple of drinks. Unfortunately, when you are breathalysed you could still end up being over the limit. Below is a short guide to help you understand the ins and outs of drink driving.

What Are the Limits?

There are three blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits, which are zero, under 0.02 and under 0.05. Your BAC measures how much alcohol you have in your system. The units of measurement is grams of alcohol per 100 mL of blood.

Learner and Provisional Drivers

If you have a learners licence, a provisional 1 drivers licences or a provisional 2 drivers licence, you have a zero alcohol limit. This means you are not allowed to have a single millilitre of alcohol in your blood when you are driving. It can take several hours after you have been drinking for your BAC to return to zero, so we strongly recommend you do not drive if you have been drinking.

Unfortunately, certain food, drinks (such as lemon, lime and bitters), medicines and mouthwashes have a very small alcohol content, which breathalysers can pick up. It is best to avoid all of these things if you are going to be driving, just to be safe.

Dangerous Goods, Taxis and Buses

If you are a driver of a vehicle carrying dangerous goods or the driver of a taxi or bus, the BAC limit is 0.02. This is generally reached after having one standard drink. It is highly recommended that drivers subject to this limit should also avoid alcohol before driving.

All other Drivers

All other licence holders are subject to a 0.05 BAC.

Your BAC is determined by your size, weight, gender, liver function, consumption of food, fitness, fatigue and general health condition. There are so many factors involved that it is not worth trying to calculate your BAC – just don’t drink and drive.

Drink Driving Penalties NSW – What if I Have Been Charged?

Drink driving penalties start from fines of $1,100 with a licence disqualification period of 3-6 months. They can stretch up to fines of $3,300 with licence disqualification of 12 months and a jail sentence of 18 months. Even though the fines do not seem that high, low range drink driving is a criminal offence and you will get a criminal record. This could have serious implications for your career going forward.

Avoiding Criminal Conviction

If you have been charged with drink driving, seek legal advice immediately. There are circumstances where you may be able to avoid a criminal conviction. This is generally called a ‘section 10’. Section 10 refers to section 10 of the Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act 1999. This section allows a court to decide whether to discharge you without recording a conviction. If you receive a section 10, you will not receive a criminal record, a suspension from driving or any other penalties.

Who Can Receive a Section 10?

The courts do not issue section 10’s lightly. In considering whether to issue a section 10 the court will consider a number of factors. This includes your age, character, record, nature of the offence and extenuating circumstances. You may end up with a ‘good behaviour bond’. This means if you commit another offence within two years, you will need to go back to the court and be re-sentenced for the original offence. Or, the court may discharge you completely without a good behaviour bond.

There is also an option of obtaining an “interlock” order. This allows you to drive with a special device installed in your car. Interlocks are sometimes overlooked by lawyers and yet is an excellent option for those who must have a car to be able to keep their job. A device gets installed in your car and you have to blow into the device before you start your car. It will record if you have any alcohol in your breath and the report from the interlock device is then used to ensure you have not had any alcohol. You can only drive this car during the time of the interlock licence.

It is important to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer. We can advise you on your prospects of receiving a section 10 and to represent you in court. Furthermore, our lawyers are experienced in drink driving offences, so please get in touch.