Knowing what’s involved in property conveyancing is essential when you’re getting ready to buy your first home.
If you’re looking for tips for first home buyers, learning about property conveyancing might not seem as vital as organising finance or keeping your cool at an auction. But knowing exactly what’s involved in taking legal ownership of your dream home can save you from some nasty surprises, including extra costs you may not be aware of.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal transfer of a property title from one owner to another. When you’re buying a property, this process involves a number of stages including:
– Reviewing the contract of sale and negotiating any changes before you exchange contracts and pay a deposit
– Explaining mortgage documents and making arrangements for what happens at settlement
– Looking at property reports
– Arranging property searches and making any enquiries needed to complete your purchase
You’re not legally obliged to have a conveyancer act on your behalf. Most buyers will engage a conveyancer because it takes specialist knowledge to arrange for the exchange of contracts and property settlement process to go smoothly. They should be licensed to practice where you’re buying as conveyancing standards and practices vary from state to state.
You can also engage a solicitor, but make sure they’re up-to-date with current legislation, codes and policies for buying residential property.
Finding a conveyancer
When you’re buying a property, it can speed things up during the offer and negotiation process if you have a conveyancer on hand to advise you. It’s particularly important if you’re buying at auction as you’ll need to have a conveyancer review the contract before purchasing. As there’s no cooling-off period after an auction, if you commit to buy, you’ll need to be sure you’re happy with all the terms and conditions of the sale.
Local real estate agents can provide you with recommendations for a conveyancer or you can ask friends of family for a referral. You can also contact your state division of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers to find a licensed conveyancer.
Conveyancing services for property buyers
Your conveyancer will review, explain and lodge all legal documents during the property conveyancing process, so don’t be shy, and ask lots of questions. They’ll act as a point of contact for the real estate agent and vendor’s legal representatives throughout the sale. By organising searches – such as title searches – and reviewing your building and pest reports, your conveyancer can make you aware of any problems or issues with the property and discuss your options with you.
It’s also their responsibility to liaise with your lender to ensure all documentation and funds, including stamp duty and mortgage fees, are organised and ready for settlement.
Fees and costs
There is no standard fee for conveyancing services so make sure you request a written statement of fees and what they include.
You can also expect to pay your conveyancer for charges or “disbursements” for some of the following services as part of the property conveyancing process:
– Title search
– Certificate fees from authorities, council and utility providers
– Registering your mortgage
– Registering the title transfer
Have you worked with a conveyancer to buy your first home? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.