So you’ve finally have found ‘the one’, your dream home. And now comes the formal stuff – the legal part of the process where you actually buy or sell the property. It is wise for both parties – the vendor and the purchaser – to engage a conveyancer to navigate this process. You don’t legally have to engage one, but knowing the ins and outs of property agreements can be quite hard for the layman. Both buyers and sellers will be asked by the real estate agent to provide contact details of their conveyancer for the sales and purchase agreement, so it is best to do your homework upfront and have one already chosen.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of land (property) from one person or entity to another. A typical conveyancing transaction consists of three stages:
1. Before contract
2. Before completion
3. After completion
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is a licensed and qualified professional whose job it is to provide advice and information about the sale of a property, prepare the documentation and conduct the settlement process. Conveyancers don’t necessarily have to be lawyers but solicitors often undertake this work. The most common reasons you would engage a conveyancer is when you are:
*Buying or selling a property
*Updating a title (i.e. registering a death)
*Registering, changing or removing an easement
What a conveyancer does
For the buyer – a conveyancer will:
*Prepare, clarify and lodge legal documents – e.g. contract of sale, 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 you when the property is settled, contact your bank or financial institution on when final payments are being made
*Represent your interest with a vendor or their agent
For the seller – a conveyancer will:
*Complete and ensure the legal documents are all sorted
*Represent you and respond to requests from the buyer – for example, request to extend dates, title questions, etc.
How to find a conveyancer
As with most professions, not all conveyancers are equal. Just as you would interview prospective real estate agents to sell your house, you should also go through the same process with conveyancers. As we all know, the best referral is through people you know, so ask around and see if any of your friends and family have used a good conveyancer. If you have no luck there, look online, ask your real estate agent or other professionals you trust, like an accountant or lawyer. Once you have your list of prospective conveyancers, give them a call and ask a few questions to find one you’re comfortable with, and one that meets your purchasing or selling needs. Some conveyancers specialise in different types of real estate, for example, apartments, cross leases, subdivisions and so on. When you have found a conveyancer, do a background check to ensure they are legally allowed to carry out the work and have no complaints against them.
Questions to ask
*What types of property do you mainly specialise in?
*What will it cost – what are your fees and charges? What fees, etc, will I have to pay at settlement? Are there any hidden costs?
*How will you communicate with me and how often?
*On settlement day, what time frames are we looking at? (This is important if you are arranging movers and other parties)