All the legal work done in buying or selling property is called conveyancing. It is usually done by a conveyancer or commercial lawyers, both of whom are fully trained and experienced in such matters. Of the two, the solicitor can give you better legal advice than a conveyancer. However, if you are a detail oriented person, you may be able to do the conveyancing yourself. The only thing is you can be liable for the loss if something goes wrong with the sale.
Conveyancers and commercial lawyers take out professional indemnity insurance to cover them for the possibility of loss. You can also do this, but it is unlikely that you would be able to take out the same amount of insurance as a professional person. And by the time you pay for this and all the other costs involved, you don’t really save much.
There is quite a lot of work involved in doing conveyancing and when you are not experienced or trained it will take you longer to get through it, especially if you are also working at another job. Here are some of the steps a conveyancer needs to take to get the job done.
- Examine the sale contract
- Arrange for pest and building inspections
- If the property is in a strata scheme, the strata inspection report will have to be examined
- Arrange the finance
- Exchange the contract of sale
- Pay the deposit
- Arrange for payment of stamp duties
- Prepare and examine the mortgage agreement
- Find out if there are any outstanding arrears or land tax obligations
- Find out if swimming pool compliance documentation is needed
- Research whether there is any government authority with a vested interest in the land or if there are any developments planned that could affect the value of the property
- Check for boundary fence disputes or illegal building activity
- Calculate and adjust the council and water rates for settlement
- Oversee the change of title with the appropriate body
- Complete final checks before settlement
- Attend and oversee settlement
Many of these steps cost money. For instance, there are legal fees and disbursements, service fees for a title search, registration of transfer and mortgage to name just a few. Normally, most of these fees are passed on to the buyer – even such things as photocopier costs and postage – so even if you do your own conveyancing for buying a property you are still stuck with them.
If you hire a conveyancer or commercial lawyer to do the work, you should always ask for a cost breakdown and you have a right to negotiate on the costs as well as to receive notice of any changes and receive bills.