What is conveyancing? What home buyers and sellers need to know

Have you finally found your dream home, or are you ready to sell up for a seachange, but you need a hand navigating the legal hurdles and documents involved in a property sale?

This is where seeking the services of a conveyancer might be helpful. But what exactly is conveyancing, who is a conveyancer and what do they do? Let’s break it down.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of the legal title of a property (such as a house or land) from one person to another. Preparing, verifying and lodging a range of legal documents as well as preparing the property for settlement are important parts of conveyancing.

You can arrange conveyancing work through the use of a DIY conveyancing kit, and there are also professionally trained and licensed conveyancers in most states and territories who can arrange the details of settlement and paperwork on your behalf.

While you might be able to save money on conveyancing fees by doing it yourself, it’s worth keeping in mind that any paperwork filled out incorrectly could risk the security of your deposit and the sale of the property.

If you do hire a licensed conveyancer or solicitor, he or she is legally required to have professional indemnity insurance.

Professional indemnity insurance covers the conveyancer for potential mistakes or omissions that could result in the customer taking legal action against them to recover possible financial loss.

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Based on residential standard variable home loans available for a loan amount of $600,000 at 80% LVR in NSW, and available for principal and interest repayments. *Comparison rate based on loan amount of $150,000. Read the Comparison Rate Warning.

What is a conveyancer & what does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer is a licensed professional who can help advise buyers and sellers about the transfer of property ownership. Conveyancing can be completed by either a professional conveyancer, who could also be qualified as a solicitor, or a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing.

It’s worth noting that unlike a solicitor, a conveyancer is generally limited to helping with the property transfer, and may not be able to assist with all legal matters such as the terms of your sales contract and tax.

A conveyancer may assist you with:

  • Arranging building and pest inspections
  • Preparing and examining the contract of sale
  • Checking the property for any outstanding issues such as its compliance with laws in your area
  • Paying costs on your behalf such as the deposit and stamp duty
  • Attending the settlement and registering the transfer of property ownership

If you are considering using a licensed conveyancer, it could be worth checking out the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC), the peak body representing registered, licensed and practising conveyancers in Australia. Having said that, at the moment the AIC only overseas licensed conveyancers in New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. This is due to the law in both Queensland and the ACT requiring you to engage a solicitor if you want to obtain professional conveyancing services. For Queenslanders, it could therefore be a good idea to refer to the Queensland Law Society. Prospective homeowners in the ACT can contact the ACT Law Society.

How much does conveyancing cost?

Given not all property transactions are the same, the costs for hiring a conveyancer or solicitor can vary and depends on a number of factors, including different fees for the searches and work required. It’s therefore a good idea to gather a few quotes before deciding on a conveyancer or solicitor.

Keep in mind to check their licence and experience – there could be more than just price to consider.

What are the pros and cons of DIY conveyancing?

Before deciding whether to go it alone and handle any conveyancing tasks yourself rather than hire a licensed professional, it’s worth first considering the possible pros and cons of doing so.

Pros of DIY conveyancing:

  • You could save money on professional conveyancing or solicitor fees, which could easily add up to be a considerable expense.
  • It could lead to a faster transaction as you may not have to wait days for a busy conveyancer, who could be dealing with a multitude of clients, to file a document or take action on your settlement.
  • You will have full control of the timeline and decisions to be made for the property transfer.

Cons of DIY conveyancing:

  • If something goes wrong, such as an error in the paperwork that could cause a delay in settlement or even risk the security of your deposit, you will be personally accountable.
  • A lack of industry knowledge could make the experience of DIY conveyancing more stressful and higher risk, as you may not be aware of all the technical terminology in contracts or could miss important steps in the conveyancing process.
  • Some lenders may be hesitant to deal with you given you are not a professional licensed conveyancer and not backed by insurance.


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