What does a conveyancer do and do you need one?

author-avatar By on May 17, 2021
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What does a conveyancer do and do you need one?

 

Buying a home can be a hugely exciting time, but what’s not-so-exciting is the mountain of paperwork that comes with it. That's where a conveyancer can help.

A conveyancer can cut through the legal jargon and red tape associated with buying a home and take some of the stress out of the process. But what does a conveyancer really do, and do you even need one? Read on to decide for yourself.


Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval
VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
WIN YOUR HOME LOAN INTEREST FREE

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • WIN your home loan interest free and save up to $1.1 million. Refinance by 29 October. T&Cs apply.
  • Refinance Only. Fast online application, refinance in minutes, not weeks.
  • No Nano fees, Free 100% offset sub account. Mobile app. Visa debit card & instant payments.
WIN YOUR HOME LOAN INTEREST FREE

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • WIN your home loan interest free and save up to $1.1 million. Refinance by 29 October. T&Cs apply.
  • Refinance Only. Fast online application, refinance in minutes, not weeks.
  • No Nano fees, Free 100% offset sub account. Mobile app. Visa debit card & instant payments.
VariableMore details
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
VariableMore details
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
VariableMore details
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services

Rates correct as of September 28, 2021. View disclaimer.


What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal action of moving the official ownership of land title to a new owner. This new owner can be either a person, or an entity like a small business. It involves preparing, verifying and lodging the various legal documents associated with home buying and selling, as well as preparing the property for settlement.

As you can imagine, this process is far from simple, with a conveyancing transaction typically consisting of three stages:

  • pre-contract
  • pre-completion
  • post-completion

Not handing in the appropriate paperwork associated with these stages, correctly completed, by the required dates can result in your contract being voided. This would see you potentially lose your dream home, perhaps even forfeiting the deposit you’ve paid.


What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer is a licensed professional who provides advice and information with regards to the transfer of property ownership, as well as assisting buyers and sellers through the selling process. They’ll organise all the appropriate documentation required for settlement, communicate with lenders and provide advice where possible.

It’s recommended you use a conveyancer when:

  • buying or selling land
  • updating a title (e.g if someone on the title dies​​​​​​)
  • subdividing land
  • registering, changing or removing an easement (a right to use the land)

After hiring a conveyancer, they’ll be able to help you with:

  • Arranging building and pest inspections
  • Checking the property for any issues that might infringe on council regulations
  • Preparing and examining the contract of sale
  • Paying a deposit, stamp duty and other property ownership transfer costs
  • Organising a land survey to ensure the boundaries of the property are accurately represented

To perform these duties, conveyancers must be trained and accredited. Some conveyancers are also solicitors and are required to be in Queensland and the ACT. This is optional in other states, however.

Prior to hiring a conveyancer, check out the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC), the peak body representing registered, licensed and practicing conveyancers in Australia, to see if your chosen individual is a part of their database. They won’t have data for conveyancers in Queensland or the ACT, so check out the Queensland Law Society and ACT Law Society for information on conveyancers in those regions.

Additionally, a conveyancer is legally required to have professional indemnity insurance. This covers the conveyancer for any accidental potential mistakes or omissions that could result in the customer taking legal action against them.


Do I need a conveyancer or can I do it myself?

It’s not legally required to engage the services of a conveyancer in any state or territory in Australia, but it’s generally recommended you do so. DIY conveyancing can save you a lot of money, with kits costing between $80 and $150.

However, as might’ve gathered from this article, real estate laws and property ownership are highly complex topics. Not adhering to the law or specific dates throughout the process can have serious consequences, like losing your deposit or even your home. One or both of these things would be disastrous.

Remember, just because you can go it alone doesn’t mean you should. A conveyancer is a professional for a reason and more often than not it’ll be well worth the money. Although much cheaper, DIY could end up being far more expensive if done incorrectly.


Conveyancer vs. solicitor: what's the difference?

While conveyancers are trained and accredited professionals with a high level of expertise in their field, they are often quite limited in the services they can provide. A conveyancer who isn’t also a solicitor can’t provide advice on matters of property law or assist you with the terms of your sales contract and tax, for example.

Additionally, should a legal dispute or issue arise during the settlement process, they won’t be able to help you, whereas a solicitor will. Inversely, a solicitor may be a jack of all trades and master of none - they might not be an expert in conveyancing and it's simply a service they offer.

A solicitor could also sting your wallet more. Conveyancers typically charge a flat fee while a solicitor will charge by the hour.


How much does a conveyancer cost?

Conveyancing costs can vary massively based on the conveyancer, as they could be working in a solicitor's office, a small business or be self-employed. The services on offer also vary between conveyancers and the duties of a conveyancer are different between states and territories.

As a ballpark figure, conveyancing fees typically range from $500 to $2,500. As mentioned previously, most conveyancers charge a flat fee, but there are also additional costs called disbursement costs.

According to the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division (AICNSW), disbursement costs include:

  • Title search: $20 - $100
  • Local council building certificate: $250
  • Local council S149 certificate: $53 - $133
  • Local council, rates certificate: $65
  • Land tax, clearance certificate: $20-$25
  • Sydney water, rates certificate: $20 - $25
  • Drainage diagram: $25
  • Department of Education: $20 - $25
  • Environmental Protection Authority: $20 - $25
  • Roads and Traffic Authority: $20 - $25
  • Transgrid, electricity/power stations: 20 - $30
  • Postage, stationery, faxes: $20 - $40
  • Local council pool compliance/ non-compliance certificate: $150 - $450

These costs are an estimate and obviously NSW based only, but provide a good insight into the various charges you could run into. Make sure you get a clear breakdown of a conveyancer's costs prior to using them so you know you’re getting value for money.


How to find a good conveyancer

Like all professions, not all conveyancers are created equal. Here’s what a good one should do:

  • Research titles and records: Property contracts and title deeds are incredibly important documents and a good conveyancer will meticulously pore over these to ensure there are no dodgy conditions or terms that you might not have seen. They’ll also clearly define the rights and obligations of the buyers and sellers to allow for a smooth transfer of the property ownership.
  • Give expert advice: A good conveyancer will proactively help you and provide advice on the conveyancing process, rather than you having to go to them and ask the right questions. They should give you expert and practical advice at each step of the process.
  • Be quick and efficient: There are numerous essential and immoveable timeframes associated with property sales. A good conveyancer will adhere to these and finish the transaction in a timely manner.
  • Charge a fixed rate: Dealing with a conveyancer rather than a solicitor will typically afford you the advantage of getting a fixed cost instead of an hourly rate. A trustworthy conveyancer will have a clear breakdown of their costs and charge a fixed fee.

Ask a potential conveyancer about each of these things before committing to one’s services.


Savings.com.au’s two cents

Although not as glamorous or notorious as real estate agents, conveyancers play an extremely important role in the purchase and sale of a home. Transfer of property ownership is a complex sea of red tape, and engaging with a trustworthy and qualified professional to cut through the bureaucracy can be an excellent investment.

Throughout the home buying process, you can also consult the expertise of the following entities:

  • A property valuer (responsible for carrying out inspections of residential and commercial properties to determine their current market value)
  • A buyer’s agent (provides the qualifications, knowledge and expert negotiation skills to find a good property based on certain specifications for the best price)
  • A mortgage broker (work on the borrower’s behalf to arrange the appropriate finance for them to purchase their home)

Photo by Freshh Connection on Unsplash

Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Great Southern Bank, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*Comparison rate is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

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Alex joined Savings.com.au as a finance journalist in 2019. He enjoys covering in-depth economical releases and breaking down how they might affect the everyday punter. He is passionate about providing Australians with the information and tools needed to make them financially stable for their futures.

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