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Buying a home

Conveyancing: What is it and how does it work?

3 June 2022

Navigating the sea of paperwork that follows finding your dream home can be overwhelming. That’s why many Aussies enlist the help of a conveyancer or solicitor.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring legal ownership of a property. Conveyancers and property law solicitors can assist you with certain aspects of buying or selling a property.

Why employ a conveyancer or solicitor?

There’s a lot of work that goes into transferring the legal ownership of a property. And while a conveyancer or solicitor is not required, having one on your team can save you time and stress, especially if it’s your first time purchasing property.

A conveyancer or solicitor can help you to ensure necessary conveyancing steps are completed on-time so the settlement process runs as smoothly as possible. On top of this, a solicitor can help to make sure both you and the seller are complying with your legal obligations, and that your rights are adequately protected. Things can go wrong during the settlement process, so knowing someone has your back can provide great peace of mind.

How does conveyancing work?

There are broadly three phases in the conveyancing process: pre-contract, pre-completion and post-completion.

The pre-contract phase

Before you put an offer on a property, it can help to be in contact with a conveyancer or solicitor so they know your personal requirements or special conditions you may want to include in the contract. Finding a conveyancer or solicitor early on will also give you more time to choose one who’s right for you.

The pre-completion phase

This is the period between contract and settlement, and where most of the heavy lifting happens. Your conveyancer or solicitor can:

  • assist with the preparation of documentation;
  • conduct due diligence on the property;
  • ensure the deposit money is held in a trust account;
  • calculate adjustments (including adjustments for rates and taxes); and
  • arrange a time and place for settlement.

The length of this period varies by State or Territory and specific settlement periods can be agreed between the buyer and the seller.

The post-completion phase

After settlement, your conveyancer or solicitor can assist you with post-settlement processes, which may include the registration of transfer documentation. If you’re purchasing the property using money from a loan, your bank is likely to do this for you, though you’ll need to provide funds to cover registration fees.

How to find a good conveyancer

A good place to start is asking friends, family or your real estate agent for recommendations. If nothing comes from this, turn to the internet. Read reviews, and once you’ve narrowed your search down to around three conveyancers or solicitors, give them a call and ask questions about:

  • what type of property they specialise in,
  • their fees and charges,
  • how and when they’ll communicate with you, and
  • if they’re a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.

Your conveyancer can be a great source of information. It’s easy to get lost in property law lingo, so it’s important you find one who takes the time to explain things to you, and you’re comfortable asking questions of.

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