Do I Need a Conveyancer?
Updated: Jun 29
When buying or selling property, the process of transferring ownership of the legal title from one owner to another is called conveyancing. Conveyancers are professionals that specifically handle this process, along with solicitors. Solicitors can also refer to themselves as conveyancers so it is worth clarifying before you proceed.
When Do You Need a Conveyancer?
Both the seller (vendor) and the purchaser (buyer) would usually engage a conveyancer or solicitor to help them navigate the process of buying and selling. A vendor’s solicitor or conveyancer will need to list their contact details on the contract. A contract is required before an agent can list the property for sale or invite buyers to an open for inspection. Several legal searches and checks also need to be undertaken, these will usually cost a few hundred dollars on top of the standard fee charged.
What Does a Conveyancer Do?
Once you have decided on a property and agree to purchase it, there is quite a lot of paperwork involved. Contracts need to be prepared, reviewed and executed correctly to ensure there are no unexpected surprises. There are also certificates to request, zoning to confirm, and easements and caveats to check, along with other issues that may need to be assessed, including the payment of any outstanding bills pertaining to the property (council rates, land tax, strata fees, water rates, electricity).
A conveyancer will update the land title at the Land Titles Office, register, change or remove any easements and is called upon to handle a straightforward property purchase or sale. It’s worth keeping in mind that when you are buying a property, there is more risk involved if you are the buyer, your conveyancer or solicitor will therefore have more complex and comprehensive searches to undertake.
Both a conveyancer or a solicitor will assist with the following tasks:
Prepare, clarify and lodge any legal documents
Research the property and its certificate of title
Put the deposit funds in a trust account
Calculate any charges against the property
Define what exactly is included in the sale (fittings, fixtures etc)
Liaise between the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer and the agent to organise a final inspection
Represent you in any negotiations that take place between you and the buyer
Settle the property and arrange legal transfer of ownership
When You Need a Solicitor
Solicitors can practice in any area of the law and may even refer to themselves as conveyancers. However, solicitors are able to provide legal advice if more complex issues arise. A conveyancer will only be able to complete the necessary paperwork. A solicitor is more likely to charge you for your time on an hourly rate rather than a fixed fee, although this is usually indicated when you initially enter into a contract with them. They should also be able to give you an idea of how long it will take and the total cost based on what is typically involved.