Conveyancer VS Solicitor… Who To Choose In The Property Zoo

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Conveyancer -VS- Solicitor… Who To Choose In The Property Zoo

Written by: Edwina Wilkens l Marketing + Business Development Manager for Canny Legal


Before you start the conveyancing process and before you start asking your friends or the local Facebook group for recommendations, it’s a good idea to weigh all of your options up carefully.  This includes determining whether you would benefit most from hiring a conveyancer or a solicitor.  The right decision for you, may not be from Chuck who recommended his neighbour’s friend on Facebook who did him a solid when selling his mum’s place!  There are a number of factors that it will depend on, including your personal preference and most importantly your financial situation.  This is why it’s best to have a team on your side to be ready and willing to help you, when and if you should need it.

We go in-depth on the conveyancing process, covering what conveyancing actually is, what a conveyancer does, the different roles carried out between purchasing and selling a property and everything in between.  We want you to know what’s involved in the conveyancing process so that you can make an informed decision on every aspect and why it’s critical to engage a legal professional to tailor a contract of sale to your individual needs whether you are selling or buying a property.

What is Conveyancing?

When it comes to buying or selling a house or property there are some important people that need to be involved; the purchaser/seller, the real estate agent, the bank and last but definitely not least, your conveyancer.  Buying a home can be an exciting time but what’s not so exciting can be the mountain of paperwork that comes with it.  This is the first place where a conveyancer can help and even more so – if you choose a conveyancer who is actually a solicitor, like your team at Canny Legal.

Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of land to the new owners, whether it be a person or an entity such as a small business.  It involves preparing, verifying and lodging the various legal documents associated with home buying and selling, as well as preparing the property for settlement.  This process isn’t as simple as it may sound, in fact, it’s far from it but the conveyancing process can typically be broken down into three stages:

  • Pre-contract
  • Pre-completion
  • Post-completion

Not handing in the appropriate paperwork linked and associated with these stages, correctly and completed, by the required dates can result in your contract being voided.  This would see you potentially lose your dream home and in some cases even forfeiting the deposit you have already paid.

Do I need a Conveyancer – or can I do it myself?

While it’s not a legal requirement to engage in the services of a conveyancer in any state or territory in Australia, it is recommended that you do so.

However, it’s no secret that real estate laws and property ownership are highly complex topics.  Not adhering to the law or specific dates throughout the process of buying or selling property can have very serious consequences, like losing the deposit that you have already paid or in more serious situations – losing your home.  One or both of these events would be disastrous.

Just because you can go it alone – does not mean that you have to or that you should.  Engaging in a conveyancer who is a profession is done for a reason and more often than not you’ll find in the long run that it will be money well spent.  However, keep in mind that selecting a cheaper conveyancer could end up being far more expensive if they don’t do the job correctly or have the legal backing and expertise of a legal professional.

What does a Conveyancer do?

A conveyancer is a licensed professional who provides advice and important information in regards to the transfer of property ownership, as well as being there to assist the buyers and sellers through this process.  Even better if you choose a conveyancer who is a legal practitioner to have on your team so that if anything was to go wrong legally, they are able to step in and assist.

Conveyancers order all of the required and appropriate documentation that is needed for settlement, communicate back and forth with lenders and also provide advice and guidance where possible.

Typically, a conveyancer will do everything necessary and ensure that you and your party are prepared for the critical dates during the buying and/or selling process.  They are also in regular contact with the other party’s lawyers dealing with all of the nitty-gritty issues.

We recommend engaging a conveyancer when you are;

  • Purchasing or selling land
  • Updating a title (e.g if someone on a title has passed away)
  • Subdividing land
  • Registering, changing or even removing an easement (a right to use the land)

Your conveyancer will then be able to help you with;

  • Arranging building and best inspections
  • Checking the property for any issues that might infringe on the council regulations
  • Preparing and examining the Contract of Sale
  • Paying a deposit, stamp duty and other property ownership transfer costs
  • Organising a land survey to ensure the boundaries of the property are accurately represented

Does a Conveyancer’s job change depending on if I’m buying or selling?

The short answer – YES!

For the buyer, a conveyancer will;

  • Prepare, clarify and lodge legal documents – e.g Contract of Sal and memorandum of transfer
  • Research the property and its certificate of title – check for easements, the type of title and any other information that needs addressing
  • Put the deposit money into 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 your chosen financial institution when the final payments are being made and see them through
  • Represent your interests with a vendor or their agent

Contract of Sale Review

If you’re buying, your conveyancer will review the Contract of Sale and the Vendor’s Statement to look for any potential errors, unusual clauses or raise any red flags that might not be obvious to any individual like you or me looking at it for themselves.  They will also inform you of what the contract entails, and the important dates throughout the settlement period, and give you tailored advice on any conditions which can be added to protect you.

Having your conveyancer read and explain this information before you fully commit to the purchase protects you from some potentially expensive risks, such as buying a house with an illegal extension.

In today’s property market, you may feel pressure as the purchaser to make decisions straight away, especially if you find yourself looking to buy in a high-profile area.  However, we always recommend that it is best to ensure you are clear on understanding all of your obligations before signing on the dotted line which is why it’s an added bonus if you engage Canny Legal to be your conveyancer as we have the legal power and expertise behind us to help you.  Buying a house at auction is a common issue as the buyers are pressured into entering into a contract straight away only to later find themselves with a termite infestation or a government planning proposal underway.

For the seller, a conveyancer will;

  • Complete the required legal documents
  • Represent you in dealings with the buyer – e.g request to extend dates, ask title questions etc.

Contract of Sale Preparation

If you’re selling your property, your conveyancer will prepare the Contract of Sale and Vendor Disclosure Statement as well as make sure all your special requirements and conditions are included in the final contract.

Having a solid contract written up correctly is extremely important in ensuring a smooth settlement.  If there are mistakes in your disclosures or in your contract, this can compromise your sale and create horribly expensive corrections for you down the track.  Any queries from the buyer or the buyer’s solicitor/conveyancers will also be handled by your conveyancer – this leaves you free to look after moving out or better yet, continuing to expand your property portfolio.

Is A Conveyancer A Solicitor… What’s the difference?

Conveyancers are trained and accredited professionals with a high level of expertise in their field and they are also quite often limited in the services they can provide to you which is always important to keep in mind.  A conveyancer who isn’t also a solicitor isn’t able to provide advice on matters of property law or assist you with the terms of your sale contract and tax just as a simple example.

Also, should there be any sort of legal disputes that arise over the duration of time throughout the settlement process, a conveyancer will not be able to help you and you will have to engage in your own legal professional representative outside of the costs of what you are already paying for your conveyancer.

Overall, solicitors are legal professionals who undertake the same tasks that conveyancers provide.  A big difference is that solicitors have more extensive knowledge of the law and can also guide you in transitions that require attendance at the Australian Courts.  Solicitors are fully-fledged lawyers – they can help you with legal matters that conveyancers might not have knowledge of and are equipped with a broader knowledge of the law.  Solicitors are also suited to handle matters that can turn into more complex property transactions that post more risk.

Canny Legal + Expert Legal Advice

At Canny Legal, we are able to offer additional advice when you choose to do your conveyancing with our legal team.  We can provide advice and further guidance on issues throughout the process including estate planning and any tax implications of buying or selling a property.

With our team of accountants on hand, we can go in-depth, should you need it, on knowing straight up what your tax implications may or may not be and what sort of stamp duty you could be looking at – all before pressing the green light.  Get in touch today to have a chat with us about how we can help you!

Picture of Edwina Wilkens, Marketing and Business Development Manager in the centre of the picture with her hands on her hips leaning forward and smiling wearing a striped purple and yellow shirt

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