Should I use a conveyancer or solicitor?
For most straightforward property purchases, a conveyancer can cover all your legal needs before and during settlement. In more complex cases may require a solicitor.
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Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll need conveyancing work done for the transaction to reach settlement. This work can carried out by a conveyancer or a solicitor. Conveyancers specialise in the a property transaction but may not have the broader legal knowledge of a solicitor if a case becomes complicated. On the other hand, a solicitor is not always an expert in conveyancing.
If your property settlement is a straightforward purchase that isn't too complicated a conveyancer will probably serve you better.
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer acts on your behalf when you’re buying a home to organise the transfer of land from the seller to the buyer. They organise all the documents you’ll need for settlement, liaise with the lender’s solicitor and ensure a smooth process.
Conveyancers organise and check through the contract of sale and any other mortgage documents, and will also carry out a title search to ensure there are no encumbrances or other mortgages on the property. They will also prepare and certify all legal documents pertaining to the mortgage, will calculate the adjustment of taxes and council rates, organise a land survey of the property and will place the deposit money into a trust account until settlement.
In order to perform these duties, conveyancers have to train and be accredited. While many conveyancers are also solicitors, most states do not require this.
Queensland and the ACT
While most states only require conveyancers to hold qualifications specific to conveyancing, Queensland and the ACT require conveyancing to be performed by a solicitor.
A good conveyancer will be up-front about their fees and charges, and will also keep you informed about the process leading to settlement. When choosing to engage the services of a conveyancer, you’ll also want to make sure they are a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.
There is no legal requirement to engage the services of a conveyancer for the settlement process in most part of Australia. Buyers and sellers may choose to perform conveyancing duties themselves. However, the complex nature of home loan settlements and the amount of documentation involved mean this is a time-consuming and risky prospect for buyers or sellers who aren’t well-versed in property law.
DIY conveyancing kits are available, although it's definitely not a wise option for buyers who don't know what they're doing.
What is the difference between a solicitor and conveyancer?
While a conveyancer will have qualifications specific to conveyancing and will have a high level of expertise in this field, they are limited in the services they can provide. A conveyancer who is not also a solicitor cannot advise on matters of property law, and may not be equipped to handle any complicated legal issues that arise during the course of settlement.
Equally, solicitors may not be experts in the field of conveyancing. A solicitor may operate in a variety of fields, with conveyancing being only one of the services they offer. Another potential point of difference is price. Unlike most conveyancers, solicitors may not charge a flat fee, and may instead charge an hourly rate. This could potentially make the services of a conveyancing solicitor more expensive.
Which one should I use?
If you live in Queensland or the ACT, the law dictates that you will have to engage the services of a solicitor to perform conveyancing. If you live elsewhere, however, the decision to use a solicitor or conveyancer will depend on your individual circumstances.
You may want to use a conveyancer if you:
- Have a straightforward property transaction
- Want to keep costs to a minimum
- Want certainty about the amount you’ll have to pay
- Want the help of someone who specialises in conveyancing
You may want to use a solicitor if you:
- Have a complex or high value property deal
- Have any concerns that the transaction could become litigious
- Want one-on-one attention during the process
Whether you choose a solicitor or conveyancer, engaging the services of a professional can help ensure the process of settlement is straightforward and stress-free.
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