Thursday, 26 April 2012

How to Finalise the Paperwork When Purchasing a US Property

When signing any official document in America, you need it to be witness by a Notary Public. A Notary Public in the US is similar to a Justice of Peace in Australia and is just as common over there. In Australia, a Notary Public is much less common (they are generally a practising solicitor with around 10 years experience) and MUCH more expensive.
When we had the offer on our first property approved, we needed to get the closing documents witnessed by a Notary Public with both of us present. As both of us work full-time as Civil Engineers and on the opposite sides of Sydney, this posed a problem. Finding a Notary Public that worked outside regular business hours and didn't cost an arm and a leg proved very difficult. A Notary usually charges on a per hour or per document fee and you will be hard pressed to find anyone to witness a set of documents for under $200.

To find a Notary Public, use this link in Australia -

The Notary Public we chose works at Chatswood and was very easy to work with. He was very interested in our US Investing and was actually working on investing over there himself. He did not have much experience with the whole purchase of a US property and the forms involved, so it was a bit of a learning process for all of us. One thing that we were very impressed with was his professionalism and thoroughness. This is crutial when selecting a good Notary Public.

When we contacted our Notary for a quote, he asked us to send him the documents via email so that he knew exactly what he had to do. Others simply gave us a figure (sometimes much less and sometimes much more than our Notary) without really giving this too much thought. Our Notary ended up quoting us for $380 for his services.

You need to be well prepared when visiting a Notary and have the following documents ready:

  • Two types of photo identification (preferably with your signatures on them like a Passport and Driver's License)
  • Proof of ownership of the company or entity that you are purchasing under
  • Evidence that your company is in good standing and is active at the time of the purchase
The whole process took around an hour (we had around 12 forms in total that we had to sign and about 6 or so that the Notary had to witness). In the end he decided to charge us only $350 for his work, a bit less than the initial quote, but still a fairly expensive exercise. When we deposited the money into his bank account, we decided to split the difference and sent over $365.

It seemed that both parties were happy with how all this turned out, he asked us interesting questions about our US investing so it was good to get some more critical information from a different perspective. It was a win-win situation that we created, which we believe is important because we intend to purchase several more properties over the next year or so.

If you are from Sydney or are visiting and would like to have an appointment with our Notary, then feel free to email us and we can pass on his information. He is very helpful and we are more than happy to use hime again.

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