From the moment a property goes “unconditional”, meaning all building, pest, and finance clauses have been agreed to by the buyer and seller, a seller should begin preparing for settlement day, or more importantly preparing for settlement time. This is the time the property officially changes hands and officially becomes the buyer's property. This is the time the solicitors meet with the banks and officially transfer all the documents into the buyers' names. This is the time, the keys are handed over to the new owner. The property should be vacant and clean at settlement time.
In Queensland, a buyer can conduct a pre-settlement inspection 1-2 days prior to settlement, allowing them to inspect the property and be sure that the property is as they expected it. Check the property has has had reasonable care from the seller and that no excessive damage has been made since the date of their last viewing. Buyer's should keep in mind that if a seller is selling and buying at the same time, their settlement's might be occurring on the same day and the seller's belongings may still be in the house, often partially packed.
For a Seller
As a general rule, it is best to assume that you will need to be out of your home by around mid-day on settlement day. This will allow any final clean ups prior to the buyers and seller's solicitors meeting and completing the hand-over or settlement of the property or in some cases multiple properties.
Gather all your keys, remotes, and instruction manuals in the weeks leading up to the settlement so you can put them in a package for the buyers.
For a Buyer
If possible, we recommend planning on moving in a few days after settlement. Allowing for any delays in settlement to leave you unaffected.
The main thing a buyer should be checking at pre-settlement inspection is “The Chattels” – light fixtures, curtains, dishwashers, or hot water systems haven't been removed or changed unless they were listed in the contract as excluded chattels.
A buyer is also checking for any damage that would be considered “unreasonable”. For instance unreasonable damage would be very intentional damage, including a lot of smashed glass windows, or repetitive large holes in a wall. A small dent or hole in a wall often from moving furniture would considered accidental and the seller has no obligation to fix it. If a dishwasher or hot water system has stopped working on the day of the settlement, unless the buyer can prove that the seller misused the items, the seller has no obligation to repair or replace the item.
Note: I am not a solicitor and I have no legal training, please consult your solicitor regarding your rights.