Published at: 6/21/2016 3:29:00 PM
We cross examine the case for using a solicitor versus a conveyancer to handle the legal side of your first home purchase.
Who should handle the legal details of your first home purchase?
You’ve found the property you love. The price is right. Your offer is accepted. Now it’s down to the nitty gritty of conveyancing. Who ya gonna call?
Skip the DIY approach
Conveyancing covers all the legal aspects of buying your home and transferring the property out of the vendor’s name and into your own. It’s a job that in theory at least, you could tackle yourself. But unless you have some rock solid legal credentials it’s unwise to take a do-it-yourself approach to conveyancing.
That’s because conveyancing can be both complex and time consuming. It involves examining the sale contract for any hidden nasties; checking if there are unpaid rates or land tax owing on the property; and researching local government records for any planned developments, illegal building work or unresolved disputes that could affect the place.
If that’s not enough to convince you to use a professional, conveyancing also includes calculating the council and water rates owing on the date of settlement, and overseeing the change of title with the relevant government body in your state or territory.
It’s a lot of work. So don’t be fooled by those cheap-as-chips online conveyancing kits that make the job sound easy. Press on to find expert help from either a registered conveyancer or a solicitor.
Conveyancers can be more budget-friendly
Conveyancing was traditionally a nice little earner for solicitors but using a conveyancer can see you save big money. Fees vary widely so do shop around though in general allow about $1,000 for a conveyancer and closer to, say, $1,800 for a solicitor.
For that money, both conveyancers and solicitors are able to prepare the legal paperwork and offer advice relating to your property purchase. The key difference is that if things become complicated a solicitor can provide broader legal advice.
Referrals can be useful but shop around
Don’t automatically accept a solicitor or conveyancer recommended by the selling agent. A personal recommendation from an unbiased friend or work mate is a better way to find a reliable, competitively priced service. Alternatively, a quick google search will uncover a range of firms in your location.
Always check that any conveyancer you’re thinking of using is licensed with the appropriate body - usually the department of fair trading in your state/territory. And have any quotes on fees confirmed in writing. Though remember, cheapest isn’t always best. You want someone who will return phone calls promptly and who knows one end of a sale contract from the other.
Importantly, have a conveyancer or solicitor lined up before you find a home you want to make an offer on. This gives you time to shop around for a competitively priced service, and the sale contract can be reviewed without delay once you’ve found your dream home.
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