'Ahhhh, I just love mountains of paperwork full of complex legal jargon I know nothing about'....said no one ever. Especially not the first home-buyer who finally found the property they love within their budget.
For many people, the focus of buying property is on finding the right home, not the legal process that follows, which as you can guess, is intricate paperwork, negotiations and firm contracts.
Luckily there is someone who does love the pile of legal paperwork that comes with your home purchase: your conveyancer. They love it because they know all those legal must-haves, they understand the jargon and they know inside out, back to front and in their sleep what should and should not be included in a property contract.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal action of transferring the land ownership title to a new owner. This new owner can be defined as a person, people, entity or business. To perform these tasks, a conveyancer or a lawyer with conveyancing experience is needed in most cases. A conveyancer is a certified specialist who prepares, verifies and lodges the various legal documents associated with home sales and purchase. A conveyancer also prepares and oversees the property settlement.
As well as offering legal advice on property transfer or changes to a title, a conveyancer is usually needed to submit the transfer paperwork online for both the buying party and selling party.
Here are some of the legal responsibilities a conveyancer can assist with:
- Land sale
- Land purchase
- Title updates (i.e. if someone on the title has passed away)
- Land subdivision
- Easements (checking, registration, removing and changing of rights for third parties to use the land)
Signing a contract in the emotional heat of the moment can be costly, stressful and time-consuming in the long run if it turns out your don't have access to city water, can't make alterations because of easements.
A conveyancer will also keep up-to-date on the legal requirements for property ownership in their state and local area, which is why your conveyancer must be licensed to handle property in the state or territory where you are going to purchase or sell. The more local your conveyancer, the better their skills will be at handling the requirements for the local council and knowing who to contact to complete any outstanding tasks or resolve issues relating to the property.
If you are buying a property in an unknown neighbourhood, i.e. you live in the city and you are making a tree/sea change, or you live in the country and you want to purchase an inner-city investment property, having a conveyancer with local knowledge and proven local experience with your property type is essential for helping you cover legal requirements that might go completely unnoticed without that expert advice and local insight.
Your conveyancer is a legal specialist who only deals with property ownership, transfer and title adjustments.
Signing a contract to buy a property.
On the surface, it might appear easy to handle the paperwork yourself. - - You like the property, the price works....let's go!
People get so excited about securing their first property they can often sign without even going over the contract carefully, because really, how hard can it be?
The answer is plenty hard. There is an incredible amount of detail in property contracts as well as documentation and administration work that makes the property transfer possible. This is not a take it or leave it situation. You have rights as a buyer that should be included in the contract and you also have a chance to negotiate on some factors including the settlement period time frames and date of money transfer.
Any changes or conditions you want to include must be done before signing the contract and they must be written into the contract to make it legal and binding.
Because a conveyancer knows the structure and jargon of these contracts so well, they can quickly see gaps or unwarranted additions you need to be aware of before going ahead.
There are typically three stages a conveyancer will move a home buyer or vendor through:
1. Contract preparation
2. Settlement preparation
3. Final sale
Here is a more detailed list of conveyancing responsibilities when:
- Research the title certificate and property to see if there are existing easements, title errors or outstanding information.
- Give you a clear run down so you understand terms of the contract and what is included.
- Lodge the legal documents to the State Land Office
- Calculate the adjustments for the rates and tax
- Ensure the payments for land tax go through accurately
- Work through the stages of property settle ensuring each step is adhered to by the seller and bank
- Notify you when the settlement is completed
If you hire a conveyancer well before signing the contract they can also assist with...
- Arranging pest inspections and 3rd party-building checks
- Ensuring the property is in line with local council regulations
- Organising land survey to determine if the boundary properties match the title listing
- Examination and preparation the contract of sale
- Speak on your behalf about additional requests or changes to the pre-offered contract
- Complete the legal documents
- Speak on your behalf to the buyer and the buyer's bank for negotiations on terms and settlement periods
- Notify you when the payments have been completed and settlement is final
If there are any mistakes at all in the paperwork, even if it's out by one cent in the taxes or payment sum, you risk voiding the contract. Worst-case scenario you lose your deposit and the house you carefully selected is no longer yours.
Because of the frequency and delays caused by slight paperwork errors, many states in Australia have made it mandatory to submit lodgements and payments online so that all parties receive absolute transparency through every stage of settlement. To use online processing, a conveyancer or solicitor is needed with online lodgement privileges.
Always check that your conveyancer is trained and accredited in your local area. To know how to find a conveyancer to represent you, read our follow up blog How Do I Find A Conveyancer?
For any assistance with your future property sale or purchase please contact our friendly team.
Need a conveyancer in Albury? Contact us now to set up an appointment.