What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer can play a pivotal role in the purchase or sale of your property. However, what they actually do may not always be apparent.

A professional conveyancer is someone who is vital to helping you through the buying or selling process.

In this article, we'll help you understand how conveyancing works, what the conveyancing process entails, the effect it may have on you as a buyer or seller and more.


What does a conveyancer do?

What a conveyancer does at various stages in the sales process can be quite complicated. There are many things a conveyancer can do for you, depending on your needs and a number of factors related to the home sale.

In short, a conveyancer is in charge of making sure all legal requirements are met throughout the transaction which transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.


Do you need a conveyancer?

A buyer's conveyancer is hired by a prospective property buyer, and a seller's conveyancer is hired by the property owner. Each represents the person on either side of the real estate transaction.

A buyer's conveyancer will review the contract of sale to make sure everything is as it should be and can give you guidance about what you should do at each stage of the process.

Seller's conveyancers will typically prepare the contract of sale and other legal documents (including those related to property ownership) to make sure they meet your needs as the seller, so you are able to complete the transaction with ease.

While it may be possible for the same conveyancer to represent both the buyer and seller, experts generally recommend against this. That's because a conveyancer is a professional coming into the transaction to work on your behalf. There could be a conflict of interest here if you both use the same professional.

When do I need a conveyancer?

The point at which you may need to use a conveyancer depends on whether you're selling the property or buying it.

As a seller, you can engage with a conveyancer at any time but it's recommended that you have a conveyancer before you officially put your home on the market. This is because the conveyancer will need to prepare certain material in preparation for the sale, as required by the applicable law in your State.

If you're purchasing the property, it's typically good practice to have a conveyancer appointed before you make an offer. Similar to how a seller can engage a conveyancer before listing the property, you too can find one before you even start shopping. It can be a good idea to have one on your side as early as possible.

The rules and regulations regarding marketing and transferring a property vary from one state to the next. As such, it’s a good idea to understand what’s involved wherever you're buying or selling.

When both sides use a conveyancer, they can leave many of the particulars of the transaction to those professionals, who will be in touch with one another and then consult with you as needed.

What should I look for in a conveyancer?

As with any other professional you hire to help you with something you may not be able to do on your own, a bit of due diligence will go a long way toward ensuring that you get the best possible service from a conveyancer.

When researching who to hire, you may want to look at a few things about a potential conveyancer. These include:

  • How long they have worked as a conveyancer
  • Whether they specialise in conveyancing for the kind of property you're looking to purchase (for instance, some may focus on commercial property sales, while others mostly take on residential transactions)
  • What services they provide
  • What they will charge you for those services and what you can expect to pay as part of the sales process
  • Whether they tend to represent buyers, sellers or either
  • How they will be in touch with you as the transaction progresses
  • Whether they are members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, which requires members to adhere to various rules of conduct
  • Whether they are highly rated by others who have employed them in the past.

If the answers to all of these questions are to your liking, you may be able to proceed with confidence as you enter the real estate transaction.


What's the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer?

There is a distinction between a conveyancer and a solicitor or property lawyer.

A solicitor or property lawyer is someone who is licensed to practice law but is also well versed in the conveyancing process and property law specifically. Many solicitors provide this service, but it may be more expensive than if you use a licensed conveyancer.

Meanwhile, a solicitor may be necessary if you believe that the transaction could be more complicated. This is something you can think about when researching conveyancers initially and as you ask questions about the process, if you believe your sale may be complicated. Likewise, if a conveyancer believes your needs are more involved than what they usually handle, they may recommend that you use a solicitor instead.


Can you do conveyancing yourself?
 

It is possible to handle these tasks on your own - some companies will sell you a DIY conveyancing kit to do so. Although it can be a difficult process, unless you have a legal background and/or are intimately familiar with the rules and regulations that relate to a real estate sale in the state where the transaction is taking place. 

Even then, it can be simpler and less risky to use a licensed conveyancer or solicitor. 


Where can you find a conveyancer (or conveyancing solicitor)?
 

There are many ways you may be able to connect with a great conveyancer who will look out for your unique needs. The simplest can be to conduct a web search for one operating in your area. 

The Australian Institute of Conveyancers is a good resource, as it will have a list of members in your region. You can also ask for recommendations from anyone you know who has gone through a property sale in recent years or ask your real estate agent to make a recommendation. 

Once you are fully satisfied that a specific conveyancer or solicitor will be able to help you based on your unique circumstances, you can proceed. 

How much should a conveyancer cost? 

For both the buyer and seller, a conveyancer's fees can vary widely depending on a number of factors, so there's no sure way to know in advance how much their services will cost. 

Conveyancers are legal professionals whose services don't always come cheaply and each one is free to set their own fees. The determining factors can include the sale price for the property, the kind of property in question, how complex the transaction is, what qualifications the conveyancer (or solicitor) has, and more. 

A prospective conveyancer should provide you with full information concerning their proposed fees and costs associated with the transaction. This can include either the flat fees they charge for various services or percentage-based fees. 

In addition, conveyancing fees and costs can vary by state.  


Who pays conveyancing fees - the buyer or the seller?
 

The buyer and the seller each pay their own conveyancer’s fees. 

 

If you are looking for more information about the mortgage and home buying processes, or how Lenders Mortgage Insurance can help you buy a home sooner, have a look at the "Information for home buyers" section on the Genworth website. Here at Genworth, we are committed to helping you on your home buying journey.