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How conveyancing works and how much it costs

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Whether you are buying or selling a property, you're likely to require a conveyancer. If you've ever wondered what does a conveyancer do, how much do they cost, or are they the same as a solicitor we're here to answer these most commonly asked questions about this profession's role in the home loan process.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of preparing and organising the required documents involved in the transfer of property from one person to another. The conveyance of a property is undertaken by both those who are selling and those who are buying property, and is conducted by a conveyancer, solicitor, or the individual buying/selling their property.

What does a conveyancer do?

Essentially, a conveyancer oversees the legal aspects of property transfer and provides clients with the confidence that the exchange will run smoothly. More specifically, their responsibilities include:

  • Sourcing the Certificate of Title (the land ownership history). This includes identifying the type of title and any easements (the ability to use land for a particular purpose) on the property.
  • Overseeing the Contract of Sale. They will review the Contract of Sale and make suggestions for any inclusions or exclusions that they recommend be made.
  • When buying, they will review the Vendor’s Statement of the property you are purchasing and ensure all details are included and correct.
  • Liaising with government and local councils. This can be inquiring about any future planned land develop on the property you intend to purchase.
  • Following up any outstanding Council Rates or water bills.
  • Organising the property inspection. This can include a property, pest and/or pool compliance inspection.
  • Organising your finances. They will tell you where your deposit needs to be at settlement and handle the stamp duty payment, all on your behalf.
  • Settlement day. They will be present on the day of settlement. They will represent your interests on the day to complete settlement with the other party.

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How much are conveyancer fees?

Depending on the who you choose, conveyancers will either charge an hourly rate or a flat rate fee for their service. The NSW Government reports that the cost of a conveyancer, excluding third-party fees, can range between $700-2,500.

On top of this fee, you will be required to pay for disbursements. These are fees that have been paid on your behalf by the conveyancer that you will need to reimburse. Common disbursements include:

  • Certificate of Title search
  • Mortgage registration
  • Registering the property transfer
  • Inspection fees (these can include general building or pest inspections)

Conveyancers may charge a fee for every procedure they conduct. According to the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (NSW Division), the approximate fees charged for some actions include:

  • Title search ($20-$100)
  • Local Council S 149D Certificate ($53-$133)
  • Sydney Water ($25)
  • Land Tax ($20-25)
  • Local Council Rates enquiry ($65)
  • Drainage diagram ($25)
  • Transgrid (electricity and power stations) ($20-30)

Be aware that depending on your situation, a conveyancer may have to undertake further procedures, meaning more chargeable fees.

Before hiring a conveyancer, ask them for a detailed quote with expected inclusions and fees that may be charged. Shop around to ensure you are getting the best price for the most services provided.

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How do I find a conveyancer?

conveyancer

If you are buying or selling your home, a good place to start is to ask your real estate agent, accountant, mortgage broker or Home Loan Specialist if they are aware of a trusted local conveyancer.

You can also find a conveyancer in your local area on the Australian Institute of Conveyancers. All registered conveyancers can be found within their state division, making it easy for you to find one in your area.

Don’t just hire the first conveyancer you find. Ask for their qualifications (and double check them), their fees and disbursements, their included procedures, their insurance protection and if they are involved in any contracts that may conflict with your own.

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Are conveyancers the same as solicitors?

Whilst solicitors can be conveyancers, conveyancers are not solicitors. Both are qualified to convey a property, with recognised qualifications.

A conveyancer must undergo two years of study, plus an additional two years of supervised practical experience before being able to apply for a conveyancing license. They are then registered with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers. This process will vary from state to state.

Solicitors have undergone a Law degree in which they will study conveyancing. They have the option to study the subject in more depth as an elective. Once qualified as a practising solicitor, they are qualified to conveyance property.

Solicitors are able to provide legal advice during the home purchase process, whilst conveyancers are not. This may come in handy is complications arise and you need to seek legal assistance. However keep in mind, the fees for solicitors tend to be higher than that of a conveyancer.

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Do I really need a conveyancer, or can I do it myself?

If you want to cut down costs, you can do it yourself but you risk making a costly mistake. Both conveyancers and solicitors are covered by professional indemnity insurance in case any errors are made in the process. You are not covered by this same level of insurance if you use do it yourself, and will be liable for any mishaps that may occur.

Not only legal mishaps, but common oversights can be avoided by hiring a conveyancer. When reviewing the Contract of Sale, a conveyancer will know what to look for, and any inclusions that need to be added. For instance, if you do not state that the rubbish in the front lawn needs to be removed before settlement, the vendor has no obligation to remove it if it is not stated in the Contract of Sale.

Any inconsistencies or failures to comply during the lodgement of legal documents can mean the transfer of property may fall through. In some cases, you may have to forfeit your deposit on the property you wish to purchase. To avoid the risk of this happening, you may want to consider the service of a conveyancer or solicitor.

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Refinancing and conveyancers

Conveyancers can be used during the refinancing process when you are refinancing to purchase a new home. They are responsible for organising the contract of sale and Vendor’s Statement, transfer of property title, undertaking property inspections and organising settlement. They will pay deposits on your behalf and liaise with any lenders or financiers.

The choice is yours as to whether or not you wish to choose a conveyancer or solicitor during the purchase or sale of your property. Weigh up the costs of each and their specific skill set and qualifications to what will work best for you.

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The information in this post is general in nature and should not be considered personal or financial advice. You should always seek professional advice or assistance before making any financial decisions.

Tags: house, property, conveyancing, conveyancer, new purchase

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