Confused about whether to hire a conveyancer or solicitor?  You’re not the only one! This article looks at the pros and cons of whether to hire a conveyancer or a solicitor when selling your property.  The article also provides an overview of what is involved in the conveyancing process to help better make your choice.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of exchanging ownership in property; it involves a broad range of steps such as contract exchanges, property inspections and title searches.

Conveyancing normally consists of three steps:

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

If acting for a buyer, the conveyancing solicitor/conveyancer will:

  • Clarify, draft and lodge all relevant legal documents  including the memorandum of transfer and the contract of sale
  • Research the title of the property and see if there any issues such as easements which the buyer should know about
  • Place money into the trust account
  • Calculate all taxed and rates
  • Act on your behalf when settling the property
  • Contact your bank to make sure final payments are being made
  • Represent your interests when you deal with the vendor and/or agent

If acting for the seller, the conveyancing solicitor/conveyancer will:

  • Complete all legal documents
  • Represent you in dealings with the buyer

The conveyancing solicitor/conveyancer will deal with the full range of potential issues related to a property inspection, including:

  • Charges and encumbrances on the property
  • Whether all the appliances are in good order
  • Whether the electrical wiring and plumbing are all in order
  • What precisely is included and excluded in the sale?  Which are considered fittings and which are considered fixtures?
  • Whether it will be possible to do one final inspection before settlement
  • Whether or not GST applies to the purchase price

Should I use a conveyancer or solicitor?

Deciding whether or not to go with a conveyancer or a solicitor can be a difficult decision.  Both can do the job, and there advantages and disadvantages of using either.   Solicitor or conveyancer – what questions to ask:

  •  Cost:  Most solicitors and conveyancers will do fixed fee conveyancing.  But you need to make sure you know what you are getting.  What happens for instance, if the sale goes wrong?  Does the price include all contingencies and fees/charges?
  • Protection:  You need to find out what protection the professional has to offer you if something go wrong.  Solicitors are required to have insurance if they make a mistake; this is an obvious advantage if they make a critical mistake.
  • Legislation:  Property laws constantly change.  For this reason you will want to consider going with a solicitor who will have a better understanding of property laws.  Ask the professional if they are familiar with the latest laws.
  •  Supervision:  Ask who will be doing the work.  Will it be a clerk or a paralegal?  Or will the solicitor actually be doing the conveyancing themselves?  If it is a clerk you need to see what level of supervision will be given.
  •  Qualifications and experience:  Ask the professional what their qualifications are and whether they have worked on your type of property before.
  •  Specialist advice:  There is frequently a lot of variation across property sales.  Ask the professional if they can help you with the particular needs you have in the transaction.  Do you need advice on dealing with the agent?  Do you need advice on capital gains tax?  Do you need to change your will?  Will the sale have family law implications? How will all of this be integrated into the price?

Conclusion

If you are involved in a complex sale which seems to have a high number of issues and risks you are better off using a solicitor as they will have a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the law. You can contact LegalVision to get online legal advice regarding your sale.

Lachlan McKnight

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