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What is Conveyancing?

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What is Conveyancing?

Miji Michael April 09, 2021

Conveyancing is the legal work involved in preparing the sales contract, mortgage and other related documents for a property. It’s the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from the current owner (vendor or seller) to a new owner (purchaser or buyer).

It consists of three main stages:

  • Pre-contract

  • Pre-completion

  • Post-completion

These three steps include any work needed when buying or selling a property, subdividing land, updating a title or registering or changing an easement. It can also include assisting with the transfer of ownership, including home loans and any other conveyancing activity.

Who can do conveyancing work?

  • A licensed conveyancer specialises in a title transfer and has detailed knowledge in one area of the law, being property law

  • A solicitor who specialises in property conveyancing but also broader knowledge of the law in general

  • Do your own conveyancing - If you choose to do your own conveyancing, research what is required and the risks involved. Do-it-yourself kits are available but generally provide guidance material only.

    You will still be personally liable if there is a problem with the sale even if you followed the instructions. It may also be difficult for you to purchase the same level of insurance available to a licensed conveyancer or solicitor.

    CAUTION: If you take on doing your own conveyancing then you take on all the responsibility for the sale progressing in a legal manner. Make sure you fully understand the sale process and relevant legislation.

This difference in knowledge and experience is what creates a price difference between conveyancers and solicitors, but when or if something goes wrong, and unfortunately occasionally it does happen, it is better to have a legal firm and solicitor working on your side.

The conveyancing process

Conveyancing can involve these steps:

  • examining the contract for sale

  • arranging building and pest inspections

  • examining a strata inspection report (if the property is in a strata scheme)

  • arranging finance if necessary

  • exchanging the contract of sale

  • paying the deposit

  • arranging payment of stamp duties

  • preparing and examining the mortgage agreement

  • checking if there are outstanding arrears or land tax obligations

  • checking if swimming pool compliance documentation is needed

  • finding out if any government authority (eg. local council, Sydney Water, NSW Roads and Maritime Services) has a vested interest in the land or if any planned development could affect the property

  • finding out any information that may not have been previously disclosed such as a fence dispute or illegal building work

  • calculating adjustments for council and water rates for the property settlement

  • overseeing the change of title with Land and Property Information NSW

  • completing any final checks prior to settlement

  • attending settlement.

IMPORTANT:

Before the conveyancer or solicitor starts the work, ask for an itemised statement of the likely costs to give you a better idea of the total.

Costs

Fees vary between solicitors and conveyancers. As well as a legal service fee you will usually be charged for disbursements, which includes:

  • a title search

  • certificate fees charged by authorities with responsibility for water, electricity, roads, schools etc.

  • photocopying

  • registering the mortgage

  • registering the transfer.

Conveyancing costs other than legal fees and disbursements, includes:

  • building and pest inspections

  • survey report

  • establishment of mortgage

  • home building insurance

  • valuation fees

  • mortgage insurance

  • stamp duty and mortgage duty

  • levies, if the property is in a strata or community scheme

  • council and water rates.

Legal practitioners and conveyancers must disclose their costs to clients, including the client’s right to negotiate a costs agreement, receive bills and be advised of changes.

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