What is a Shortfall Account?

what is a short fall account

When purchasing property in Melbourne, understanding the financial intricacies is crucial for home buyers. One key aspect that often goes unnoticed is the concept of a shortfall account or facility. This blog aims to demystify shortfall accounts, shedding light on their significance in the property settlement process. For many, buying a home is a significant milestone, and being well-informed can make the journey smoother and more secure.

What is a Shortfall Account?

A shortfall account, in the realm of property buying, is essentially an arrangement with your bank to cover any potential deficit in settlement funds. It's closely tied to your savings account, serving as a safety net during property transactions. The primary purpose of a shortfall facility is to ensure that you have sufficient funds available for settlement a critical stage where the ownership of the property is transferred to you, the buyer.

In practical terms, if your savings fall short of the required amount at settlement, the shortfall facility allows your bank to automatically debit the needed funds from your savings account. This process is contingent on you having a savings account with the same banking institution. It's a straightforward yet vital mechanism, safeguarding against any unexpected shortfalls that could otherwise derail the property acquisition process.

The Role of Conveyancer in Settlements

Your conveyancer play an instrumental role in the property buying process, particularly at the settlement stage. They are responsible for handling the legal aspects of transferring property ownership. In the context of shortfall accounts, your conveyancer collaborates closely with your bank to ensure that all financial requirements are met for a successful settlement.

Your conveyancer will calculate the total amount needed for settlement, including the property price, stamp duty, and other associated fees. They then communicate this total to you, allowing you to prepare your finances accordingly. If a shortfall is anticipated, your conveyancer can guide you through the process of setting up or utilising a shortfall facility with your bank.

How Shortfall Facilities Work

Establishing a shortfall facility is a relatively simple process, yet it's pivotal in ensuring a smooth property transaction. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Check with Your Bank: First, enquire with your bank if they offer shortfall facilities.
  2. Setup Process: If available, you'll need to complete a form authorising the bank to debit funds from your savings account for settlement purposes.
  3. Funding the Savings Account: Ensure your savings account has enough funds to cover the potential shortfall. This involves careful financial planning leading up to the settlement date.
  4. Automatic Debiting: On the day of settlement, if your available funds fall short, the bank will automatically debit the required amount from your savings account.

This facility offers peace of mind, knowing that even if your available funds are slightly less than needed, the transaction will not be hindered.

Understanding Limits on Savings Accounts

Many banks set limits on savings accounts as a security measure. When utilising a shortfall facility, it's essential to ensure that the limit on your savings account exceeds the amount needed at settlement. Failing to do so could impede the settlement process.

If a limit is in place, it can typically be adjusted with ease. A simple call to your broker, banker, or the bank's settlement hotline should suffice to modify the limit. It's a straightforward yet critical step, ensuring that your shortfall facility can function effectively when needed.

Alternatives if You Don’t Have a Savings Account with the Lending Bank

In situations where you don't have a savings account with the bank providing your mortgage, you have two options:

  1. Open a New Savings Account: You can open a savings account with your lending bank to enable the shortfall facility.
  2. Use a Conveyancers Trust Account: Alternatively, you can deposit the required funds into your conveyancers trust account. This is particularly relevant if, for any reason, opening a new savings account isn't feasible.

These alternatives ensure that you have a reliable way to manage the settlement funds, even when your primary savings account is with a different financial institution.


Understanding shortfall accounts is essential for any home buyer in Melbourne. These facilities offer a layer of financial security, ensuring that the property settlement process proceeds without unnecessary hindrances. As each buyer's situation is unique, discussing your specific needs and options with a professional is invaluable. For expert guidance and assistance, please contact Pearson Chambers Conveyancing on 0421 058 106 or visit our website. Being well prepared financially not only brings peace of mind but also paves the way for a successful and stress-free property acquisition.