What is a conveyancer and do you need one when buying or selling a property?
When you buy a home you need a conveyancer – here’s why.
So, you’ve bought a property? Whether it’s your dream home, the perfect investment unit, or the greatest block of land to build on, congratulations are in order! But now what? After the initial excitement comes the legalities because, without that, your bubble could burst with disappointment. How? Read on.
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is essentially your ‘search engine’ and ‘box ticker’ when it comes to the house, apartment or land you’ve just purchased or sold. This professional will conduct all necessary searches relating to the property. When it comes to the purchase, they’ll look into everything relating to the property that you may not have thought of yourself or that an agent or vendor may not disclose. While this isn’t a complete checklist, here are just some of the checks your conveyancer will do on your behalf:
- Fact-check names on the contract
- Conduct building, pest and flooding reports
- Determine how much of a mortgage might be owing and to whom
- Calculate any outstanding rates to pay
- Check any encumbrances – that means something that could lessen the value of your property
- Perform a land search to determine any major road works or planned developments that could impact your property
- Conduct a water meter reading to ensure you won’t need to pay an excess
- Uncover any information that may not be included in the contract or be disclosed regarding potential neighbouring disputes or any illegal activity.
Your conveyancer can also provide advice on the property sale and purchase, and organise the paperwork involved in the settlement process.
Why would I need one?
No matter how many times you’ve sold or purchased property in the past, engaging a conveyancer will help troubleshoot any issues you might have down the track. If you’re using a legal firm to help conduct your property transaction, they’ll probably have a conveyancing department who’ll take care of all the required searches. If you’re not going through a legal firm you can engage your own conveyancer.
If you’re buying or selling property in another state or territory, it might be wise to hire a registered conveyancer in that state or territory as laws may vary.
Do I really need one?
It’s not a legal requirement to hire a conveyancer but it’s important to engage a professional who can translate all the legal terminology relating to a property purchase. In the age of DIY, you can certainly do your own conveyancing but beware: there are legalities that could be beyond your knowledge base, even with do-it-yourself kits that provide general conveyancing guidelines. Even if you use a solicitor, they may not have the conveyancing experience to tick all the boxes: people have been known to have lost tens of thousands of dollars by using solicitors who weren’t completely across all contract wording specific to home buying and selling. So yes, it pays to engage the expert.
Where do I find one?
This is a significant transaction! You want someone who’ll do right by you, so word of mouth is always a good start. Don’t feel pressured to use someone recommended by your real estate agent if you don’t want to. Ask your friends and family if they’ve used someone before that they were happy with. Or check with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC) or the Law Society in your state and ask for a registered conveyancer with a good reputation. All members of the AIC have professional indemnity insurance so you’re covered if something goes wrong.
What should I ask them?
Beyond asking for an explanation of the conveyancing process, it’s always a good idea to find out how much you’ll need to pay them, what their expertise is, and what information you’ll need to provide them and what they’ll be providing you.
The bottom line
Sure, you’ll be spending money for the service, but in the long run it could save you thousands in hidden burdens. Overall, it’ll give you peace of mind that you’ve dotted your ‘I’s and crossed yours ‘T’s.