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Should I choose a solicitor or conveyancer to help me with the settlement of a property?

May 7, 2024

This is a great question, especially for those new to buying a home and wondering what “conveyancing” is about. 

Once you’ve found suitable digs, and made a successful offer, now comes the administration. This is where good conveyancing will be worth its weight in gold for the buyer – and the seller for that matter. The next step after an offer is accepted involves navigating through the maze of paperwork, where proficient conveyancing becomes incredibly valuable. 

Conveyancing refers to transferring the ownership of a legal land title from the vendor to the buyer. It is a service that both parties may need and can be provided by either a lawyer or a conveyancer. The service should cover the preparation of documents such as contracts, checking for easements, putting the buyer’s deposit in a trust account, calculating rates and taxes, conducting the settlement, and representing your interests with other parties. 

That said, there are instances where choice isn’t available. In the ACT and Queensland, utilising a solicitor is mandatory for all property transactions, including buying a home[i]. Though there are specialist conveyancing firms in these jurisdictions, they are typically operated by solicitors.

For those in other states and the Northern Territory, licensed conveyancers can prepare and review transfer documentation, conduct title searches, and address any issues that may arise during the settlement process. However, it’s also crucial to ensure that the conveyancer you choose is licensed, such as with NSW Fair Trading in New South Wales, to ensure your interests are protected.

On the other hand, solicitors are fully-fledged legal professionals who can perform the same tasks as conveyancers but with a broader understanding of the law. They are equipped to handle complex issues or unusual scenarios that may arise during property transactions, providing buyers and vendors with a sense of security. While they may charge higher fees, a solicitor’s expertise can prove invaluable, making the extra investment worthwhile in the long run.

Thorough legwork is essential before choosing a solicitor or conveyancer. This research means shopping around multiple conveyancing specialists to pinpoint the most suitable candidate. Also, starting your search with word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted family, friends, or work colleagues is generally sensible.