The selling and buying process can be daunting if you haven’t done it before and once you’re past the negotiation stage and offers have been accepted there is a whole new process to get your head around – the conveyancing!
Pest and building reports, exchange of contracts and settlement are just some of the things that you will now become acquainted with as you move through the legal side of the process.
This guide to all things conveyancing written by Charlotte Cossar and featured on realestate.com.au gives a great breakdown of what’s involved.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of land to the new owner, whether it be a from a person or entity.
As you can imagine passing a property to a new owner means a lot of work and a conveyancing transaction generally consists of three stages:
Typically, a conveyancer will do everything necessary and ensure you are prepared for critical dates during the process.
They are also in regular contact with the other party’s lawyers dealing with the nitty gritty issues.
Of course, you can fill out all the forms yourself and save a few hundred of dollars on fees.
But this is not recommended, as ensuring all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed is no easy task.
Also, if something goes wrong, you run the risk of losing the property and forfeiting your 10 per cent deposit.
While, if you enlist the expertise of a conveyancer, should they make a mistake, you’ll be covered by their professional indemnity insurance.
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is a licensed professional who specialises in providing advice and information about the sale of a property.
Conveyancers don’t necessarily have to be solicitors but they often undertake this work.
It’s recommended that you engage a conveyancer whenever you are:
- buying or selling a property
- subdividing land
- updating a title (i.e. registering a death)
- registering, changing or removing an easement
What does a conveyancer do?
As we pointed out above a conveyancer oversees the settlement process.
On the surface it appears easy, but in reality most home buyers and sellers do not realise the full amount of detail, documentation and work that goes into legally transferring a property to a new owner.
For someone who does not know how to navigate the process it could take weeks to find and lodge legal documents, let alone understand them.
And that is just a small part of conveyancing, so, let us look at what a specialist does for each party.
For the buyer, a conveyancer will:
- Prepare, clarify and lodge legal documents – e.g. contract of sale and memorandum of transfer
- Research the property and its certificate of title – check for easements, type of title and any other information that needs addressing
- Put the deposit money in a trust account
- Calculate the adjustment of rates and taxes
- Settle the property – act on your behalf, advise when the property is settled, contact your bank or financial institution when final payments are being made
- Represent your interest with a vendor or their agent
For the seller, a conveyancer will:
- Complete legal documents
- Represent you in dealings with the buyer – e.g. request to extend dates, ask title questions etc.
How do I find a conveyancer?
Just as you would interview prospective real estate agents, you should sit down and talk to multiple conveyancers before selecting one to oversee your settlement process.
A good place to start is by asking your friends and family if they can recommend a good conveyancer. If nothing comes from this, do some online research and ask for recommendations from your real estate agent, accountant and lawyer.
Once you have a list of prospective conveyancers, give them a call and ask a few questions (see below) to find one that meets your needs. Some conveyancers specialise in different types of real estate, which should help narrow your search.
When you think you’ve found a suitable conveyancer, run a background check to ensure they are legally allowed to carry out the work and have had no complaints made against them.
Questions to ask potential conveyancers:
- Are you a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
- What types of property do you specialise in?
- How much will it cost? What are your fees and charges? What will I have to pay at settlement? What other costs are there?
- How will you communicate with me and how often?
- How long will everything take on settlement day? (This is important if you are arranging movers and other parties)