How do I find a conveyancer?

How do I find a conveyancer?

November 26, 2020

In the last few blogs, we've been looking at several aspects around conveyancing including what conveyancing is and what conveyancers do to help you understand this part of the property transfer process.

Please feel free to jump back to those previous articles if you missed them. For now, a super quick recap for you.

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer is a licensed professional who provides information and legal advice around property ownership transfer. They are equipped to organise the required documents for property settlement and can assist buyers and sellers through the transfer process and be the link in communication between both transfer parties and banks/lenders.

Conveyancing is a big part of your sale or purchase. Having the right professional at hand ensures an accurate and speedy transaction as well as getting you through any unwanted glitches that might hold up your transfer, cost money to fix or leave you disappointed with the result of the sale.

How do I find a conveyancer?

A great place to start is by word of mouth

Ask your friends, co-workers and family if they have any recommendations for a conveyancer they used and were pleased with. You can also get a professional recommendation from your real estate agent, bank, accountant or lawyer.

You can then back these up with an online search

Be sure to read over their online info, see what information they offer to the community as well as read the testimonials from other users. If they have negative feedback, also look to see how they responded to the negative feedback. If they took responsibility and took the feedback on board, it's a positive sign. If they get defensive, throw blame around or get aggressive, strike them off the list.

Interview

As with all steps in buying or selling a property you will need to hire your conveyancer carefully. Just as you did with your real estate agent, shop around and hold interview greeting sessions with different conveyancers to determine who is the right fit for you and your property type.

Here are some suggestions to help you outline some interview questions:

Look locally

You want your conveyancer to understand the property requirements and regulations in your region.

Be sure to ask if they are you a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.

Ask about their qualifications and license type as well as what types of properties they typically deal with and or specialise in.

Understand what you get

Conveyancing costs will vary from state to state as well as conveyancer to conveyancer. This is because a conveyancer can operate from a solicitor's office, work from a small business office or be self-employed. Roughly speaking conveyancing fees usually range from $500 to $2,500.

A solicitor will charge by the hour while a conveyancer typically charges a flat fee.

Be sure to discuss what is included in their fees as part of your interview. As well as this you should be provided with a written quote that breaks down the charges so you see what you are entitled to.

Service over cost

It's so important to compare your conveyancer on their service provided rather than the flat rate costs. Typically if the price is lower, they are offering you fewer services or less contact time.

A higher quote will usually be far more thorough in coverage and the support they offer.

A trustworthy conveyancer will provide you with a clear breakdown of their costs and charge you a fixed fee.

A good conveyancing service will:

- Conduct title and records research
- Clarify the rights and obligations of both the buyer and seller for a smooth transaction
- Be active about providing advice throughout the process
- Complete the transaction on time while adhering to the fixed time-frames

An important question to ask is how much communication you will get and how that communication will take place. You want them to be active about contacting you, rather than you chasing them.

A written quote is important for understanding the terms of your agreement.

If the quote you have is significantly lower than others it could also be that the flat-fee does not include additional costs. These additions are known as disbursement costs and can range from $20 to $450 per item.

Disbursement items can include:

- Title searching
- Local council certificates (including building, S149 and rates)
- Pool compliance or non-compliance certificate
- Clearance certificate for land tax
- Rates certificate for water
- Diagram of drainage
- Electricity and power station grids
- Contact with the Environmental Protection Authority, Roads and Traffic - - Authority and Department of Education
- Postage, stationery, photocopying

Make sure your conveyancer's quote has a clear breakdown of the costs so you know you are getting value for money.

Questions to ask

What is the cost? What costs are expected to be paid at settlement? What additional costs are there?

Make sure you ask: How will you communicate with me and how often?

Seem too cheap?

You may be assigned less contact time, which greatly reduces your level of support. You may be hit with additional costs if you end up requiring more assistance than what is outlined in the quote.

Personality

Yes, you can go with your gut feel. Do you feel comfortable and confident with this person? Do you feel a connection of trust and also feel that you can ask questions, raise doubts or have discussions with them easily. If yes, it's a great sign that you have a good match. You need to feel that this is a person you can ask questions of and get in touch with if issues arise. Hesitation in this area can be dangerous because you might not act if something about your property sale doesn't seem right.

Coverage

Be sure to ask about their professional indemnity insurance. This is a legal requirement as part of their licence so they must have coverage. This will mean that in the unlikely event that something goes wrong due to their error, they can cover any losses you may withstand.

Background check

Now that you have your chosen conveyancer it's important to do a background check to be sure they can practice. Don't just take their word for it, check them out.

Most states have a detailed listing of all practising conveyancers, including any formal complaints made against them at the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (AIC).

The only states that do not use this list are the ACT and Queensland as these states also require additional qualifications. If you are transferring property in either of these areas you can refer to the  ACT Law Society and  Queensland Law Society for their conveyancer listings.

A conveyancer can cut through the red tape and legal jargon associated with a property transfer and take some of the stress off your shoulders.

Every step of the transfer process must adhere to the law and meet specific dates and fixed timelines. Missing any part can have serious consequences, which could include losing your deposit or forfeiting on the sale. The security of having a professional service is well worth the money paid.

Should I use a lawyer?

While some lawyers do have a license to practice conveyancing it's only part of their offered services which means they will probably be practising the conveyancing side less actively than a licensed conveyancer who only works in this field.

The training for a lawyer or solicitor to complete conveyancing is only a few months within their overall law degree, meaning they are far less knowledgeable than a conveyancer who takes years of training as well as compulsory in-field practice.

If you wish to use your current lawyer for conveyancing then ask how their skills and experience compare to a licensed practising conveyancer to get a feel for their ability to meet your needs.

In most cases, your transfer progress will be conducted by a conveyancing clerk within the firm and overseen by the solicitor, but you still get that hefty price tag of the lawyer's services.

The time when a solicitor is an essential choice is when you need a deeper level of assistance. While conveyancers have a high level of expertise in their field they are limited in the services they can provide. If your property has legal complications or a legal dispute a lawyer is needed to get to the bottom of it. In most cases, this isn't required with most properties being fairly straight forward in the transfer. Your conveyancer can refer you to a lawyer if there are any complications with your property.

Remember, you want the best results from your property transfer, that means seeking out the best conveyancer you can find.

Contact us today if you would like one of the best NSW conveyancers to walk you through your property transaction.

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