All the up-front costs of a property purchase can quickly add up, but should you really try to save a few dollars with a DIY conveyancing kit?
Conveyancing fees can run up to more than $1,000 for a straightforward transaction and more than $2,000 for more complicated transactions. With fees like these it’s easy to see the allure of do-it-yourself conveyancing kits.
What conveyancing do you need?
Before you jump into doing your own conveyancing, you should first consider all the processes and procedures involved and whether you feel comfortable doing them.
Below are a list of actions usually undertaken during conveyancing:
- Examining the contract for sale
- Arranging building and pest inspections (if not already done)
- Examining a strata inspection report (if you are purchasing an apartment)
- Arranging purchase finance and reviewing the mortgage contract
- Paying upfront costs including stamp duty and other taxes, as well as the deposit
- Property and land title searches
- Checking the property’s compliance with state and local laws
- Searching the government authority websites for planning and development proposals that affect the property
- Checking if there are any outstanding property or land disputes
- Working out the adjustments for council rates, water and possibly strata fees (these fees are typically paid quarterly and adjustments need to be made to the settlement price if the previous owner has paid these beyond their ownership)
- Filling out and lodging the land title transfer form with the relevant state government agency
- Completing any and all final checks prior to settlement
- Exchanging the signed contract of sale and attending settlement
As simple and straightforward as the above processes may seem, there are benefits to enlisting the aid of a professional, especially during the stressful time of purchasing or selling a property.
Pros and cons of DIY conveyancing
- Saves money. You will save money on the fixed fee charged by a solicitor or conveyancer.
- 100% visibility over the process. Doing the conveyancing yourself means that you are across all parts of the transaction and reading through all the contracts, titles and certificates yourself.
- No protection if something goes wrong. If something is missed or a mistake is made that causes a delay in settlement, you have no recourse to recoup this money.
- Lack of industry knowledge. There are a lot of technical terms used in the conveyancing process. A professional will be able to pick up odd or outlier contract clauses or issues with the title where you may miss them.
- Laws change quickly. There are often small changes to property and tax law that could affect your transaction, which a professional will be aware of.
Costs of DIY conveyancing vs paying a professional
The biggest consideration that may affect your decision to undertake conveyancing yourself is the cost. There are multiple costs associated with conveyancing when buying or selling a property:
- Conveyancer’s fixed fee: $500-$1,200
- A title search: Free to up to $50 depending on the state, territory or complexity of the enquiry
- A range of council searches and certificates: $100-$1,000 depending on the search, the location of the property and the depth of the search
- Stamping and settlement fees: $30-$80
- Registration of title and transfer: $50-$200
- Miscellaneous postage, photocopying and general clerical work: $50
DIY conveyancing kits:
- QuickLaw Conveyancing DIY Conveyancing Service: $139
- Do-It-Yourself Conveyancing Kits: $120-$185
- Legal Kit Specialists Conveyancing Kit: $69.95-$109.50
Many of the certificates related to the property, such as drainage plans and sewerage, are often included in the contract for sale and in some states their inclusion is required by law. A conveyancer will charge you for these searches and disbursements on top of their fixed fee, so your savings may end up only being minimal.
What should a DIY conveyancing kit include?
There are a range of DIY conveyancing kits available, both online and in stores such as the post office. A good kit should contain:
Step-by-step instructions on what to do. Make sure the kit you are using has detailed instructions on what is needed to be done throughout the conveyancing process and that you understand the explanations given.
- Contract of sale. You may already have a copy of the contract of sale for your particular property, but often DIY conveyancing kits include a standard contract.
- All relevant forms. There should be blank copies of all the relevant land and title forms included in the kit, as well as completed copies of these forms to show how you need to fill them out.
- List of relevant government departments. There should be a full list of all the government departments that you will need to deal with throughout the conveyancing process, as well as their contact details including phone, email address and website.
- A comprehensive list of all property searches. Although you may not need to do all the searches on the list, your kit should include a comprehensive list of all property searches as well as the relevant details to action them. This list will include addresses, websites, timeframes and all relevant associated costs.
- Explanation of the searches. A thorough explanation of the searches listed in the kit as well as in what situations they are required.
- A glossary of terms. A glossary of the terms used through the conveyancing process would be an added bonus to your kit.
What you should look out for in your DIY conveyancing kit
- Buyer vs seller. There are differences in the conveyancing process depending on whether you are buying or selling the property.
- State or territory specific. Many of the laws and taxes associated with property transactions differ by state and/or territory.
- Date of last update. Property and tax laws change regularly, so make sure your kit has been recently updated.
Questions to ask yourself before you opt for DIY conveyancing
- Do you feel confident reading and fully understanding a contract of sale?
- Do you have time to properly and thoroughly research and investigate all aspects of the property to make sure it is all in order before settlement occurs?
- Are you prepared to take on any and all responsibility for any errors or issues that arise in the settlement process or in the property after settlement?
- Do you trust that you will have a clear enough mind during the stresses of moving and purchasing a home to be able to complete the process completely and error free?
If you can’t afford the costs of a professional and want greater control over the settlement process, a DIY conveyancing kit could be just the option for you.