Penny Erskine | 13 August 2012

A good conveyancer can hold a property transaction together: Penny Erskine

A good conveyancer can hold a property transaction together: Penny Erskine

Conveyancers are absolutely integral to facilitating any type of property transaction, yet most people are somewhat in the dark about their role.

Conveyancers are very much the quiet achievers in the property industry but are absolutely integral to facilitating every type of property transaction.

Many people, including some in the property industry, don’t necessarily understand the full extent of what we do. For example, many buyers and sellers aren’t aware that they can choose their own conveyancer in a property transaction.

A good conveyancer can hold a property transaction together – they are an important resource for the buyers and sellers, but also for real estate agents and mortgage brokers.

The role of a conveyancer

Conveyancers are responsible for the legal and statutory processes involved with the transfer of ownership of real estate from one person or entity to another. The preparation, execution, verification and lodgement of numerous legal documents are important elements of conveyancing.

Your conveyancer is very much a key part of your advisory team, in addition to your real estate agent and mortgage broker, and should be involved with the purchase or sale of your property from the outset.

A good conveyancer will assist you in many ways whether selling or buying – this includes reviewing the contract and offering independent advice, advising on the information provided in statutory disclosure statements, searching within government departments and local authorities for matters affecting the property, and preparing the legal documentation.

Some of their duties include responsibility for attending to payment of stamp duty on the transfer of the property on behalf of the client, coordinating and attending settlement with the client's financial institution, advising a client when settlement is completed and notifying the state’s water utility, the  local council and any affected strata or community managers of change of ownership.

A good conveyancer can also assist you with various other transactions such as leases, sales of business and land divisions, to name a few.

Your right to choose

As a key member of your selling or buying advisory team, it’s important to know that you have the right to choose your own conveyancer to help facilitate this process, in the same way as it’s your decision which real estate agent or mortgage broker you use.

As a result, it’s important that you make a well researched and informed decision. While there’s merit in considering the recommendations of others, don’t feel pressured to use them, but do your own research and make your own choice. Remember, it is your choice.

Chances are you’re going to be involved in a property transaction more than once in your life, so look to work with a conveyancer who you feel comfortable with and who you would happily use again in the future.

It’s also very important that you do not choose the conveyancer that the other party to the transaction is using. While some might suggest that it saves time, effort and money for the same conveyancer to act for both, it has the potential to create issues should a conflict of interest arise in your transaction.

Your conveyancer is ‘in your corner’ to help advocate for and protect your interests. If they are also acting for the other party there is the very real potential for them to be compromised if there is a problem with the transaction.

What to look for

When looking for a conveyancer to assist in you there’s merit in talking with two or three in the first instance to help you make your decision.

Look for a conveyancer who is a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers and is a certified practising conveyancer, this means he or she maintains a certain level of ongoing professional development and has a certain level of qualifications and experience. It means the conveyancer is up-to-date with changing legislative requirements and industry standards.

A conveyancer who has a certain level of longevity working in the local real estate market and knowledge of and experience in a broad range of property transactions is also a good candidate for your business.

Ask about the likely fees and charges (although don’t choose a conveyancer that is simply the cheapest), how long settlement is likely to take and how the conveyancer will communicate with you throughout the process.

It’s important that you brief your chosen conveyancer on anything that may impact on the transaction or delay settlement, such as financial issues or a short timeframe, so he or she can factor this into process. 

Most importantly, remember it is always best to speak to your conveyancer from the outset of any property transaction. The earlier your conveyancer is involved, they more likely he or she is to be able to identify any problems or issues and address these. 

Penny Erskine is a qualified conveyancer and marketing manager at Adelaide conveyancing firm Conveyancing Matters.

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