What is conveyancing?
While buying a home may seem like a straightforward proposition, there’s a reasonable amount of legal work that needs to be completed before the process is finished.
Conveyancing is, in essence, the legal and statutory processes required to effect the transfer of ownership in real estate from one party to another. The process involves the preparation, execution, verification and lodgement of legal documents.1
Many buyers will often entrust the legal conveyancing process to a professional. This means you could avoid spending significant time researching legal terminology and worrying whether you have misunderstood or overlooked any essential conditions.
How does the conveyancing process work?
As mentioned, the legal aspects of buying a house are extremely important to take care of correctly. Thankfully, with the right conveyancer, you’ll have all the legal paperwork checked, prepared and filled out on your behalf.
The first thing your conveyancer will take care of is the contract of sale. This will be reviewed in detail to ensure all of the terms and conditions are as expected for you, the buyer. After the exchange of contract, there is also a mandatory ‘cooling-off period’ that allows you to break the agreement should you change your mind even after it’s been signed (this doesn’t apply for properties sold at auctions). It’s worth noting that this cooling-off period applies in most Australian states and territories.
It’s in this period (excluding auction purchases) that your conveyancer will be able to conduct more robust research into the property itself. For example, they might complete background and certificate checks or a title search. Additionally, the settlement adjusted can take into account certain fees, such as land, water, and council tax.
Your conveyancer will also prepare a transfer of property title document. You, the buyer, will be required to sign it and pay the required stamp duty before sending it to the vendor to sign. Your conveyancer must then arrange to have this stamped prior to settlement so this can be lodged for registration post-settlement.
As your settlement date approaches, your conveyancer will present you with a statement that outlines the amount of money required to complete the agreement. However, they will also touch base with your bank or lender to ensure that their institution is ready to transfer the funds on your behalf on the settlement date. On the settlement day, you will be represented by your conveyancer for the exchange of documents, stamp duty forms, mortgage files, and any other legal documentation. This will be completed with the seller’s conveyancer and representatives from the banks of both sides present.
Post-settlement day, the conveyancer will typically submit the transfer document to the Land Titles Office for you. This will officially make you the proud owner of your new home.
Is conveyancing expensive?
Hiring a conveyancer isn’t always cheap, but it gives you peace of mind as you’ll have a professional taking care of this highly important process for you.
However, if you’re looking to keep costs as low as possible, you may want to seek out a legal expert who solely practices conveyancing, and/or get a few quotes before deciding who to engage. If you opt for a solicitor then you’ll be hiring a legal professional that deals in many areas of law, but they may charge higher rates than a conveyancer.
There may also be some additional fees that you’ll need to consider, such as the costs of searches for titles, land tax, council rates, and so on.
What's the best way to find a great conveyancer?
When looking for a conveyancer you can trust, it’s wise to find one that has qualifications relative to the state you’re looking to buy a property in. Even better, hire a conveyancer who is local to the area of the property you’re looking to buy.
There are a number of ways that you can find a conveyancer, with online searches being popular for many buyers. But, if you’re lucky enough to have a referral, you should really consider going with a conveyancer that has had proven results with a property purchase.
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