What does a conveyancer do in the sale of my property?
April 26, 2023

What is a conveyancer and what do they do?  

Conveyancers specialise in real estate law.

They provide information, advice and guidance through the settlement process and prepare documents.  

Your conveyancing lawyer might also be a solicitor, but it isn’t always necessary. You must, however, make sure that you hire a licensed conveyancer in the state or territory where you are selling property.  

Conveyancing typically involves the following steps:  

  • Pre-contract: work such as preparing a contract of sale  
  • Pre-completion: titles and planning searches required by law  
  • After completion: hand over the keys to the new buyer

What are some reasons you should hire a conveyancer?  

Hiring a conveyancer as early as possible is highly recommended.

In New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, you are required to hire a conveyancer before marketing a house.

In Queensland or Western Australia, you will need to have a conveyancer before you can accept an offer on your property.

Whatever the law is in your state, having an expert in property transactions is essential to your selling campaign.

There are many benefits to hiring a conveyancer. For example, an attorney or agent who handles conveyancing will:

  • assist with preparing legal documents, such as contracts of sale, and address special conditions
  • manage the trust account
  • calculate the tax rate
  • conduct title and planning searches required in the final statement of compliance with your local disclosure laws
  • ensures the sale is legal
  • organise a land survey to ensure the accurate representation of property boundaries
  • verify with your local council that the property complies with regulations

Their job is to represent you in negotiations with the buyer, help negotiate the contract terms, and act as an intermediary between seller and buyer.

A conveyancer can also help you if you need assistance with another aspect of a sale or purchase.

There are DIY conveyancing kits available, but you are still liable for any errors or oversights that you make. Conveyancing kits that you complete yourself are the least expensive option, however, conveyancing laws can be complex, and you can be held liable for any errors you make. Regulations and requirements also vary from state to state.

Furthermore, you may not be able to obtain the same level of insurance that a lawyer or licensed conveyancer can.

What to look for in a conveyancer

There are fees associated when choosing a conveyancer, so obtain quotes from multiple conveyancers and solicitors.

Besides determining the conveyancer fees, make sure they are registered or licensed in your state.

Also, ensure they have adequate and up-to-date professional indemnity insurance and verify their references.

When does a conveyancer need to be hired?

Ideally, you should hire a conveyancer before the selling process starts.

Conveyancing professionals can perform searches on your property that might reveal something you didn’t know. For example, the buyer is entitled to know about easements and other matters.

A failure to disclose these ahead of time can put you in legal trouble.

Do land purchases require the services of a conveyancer?

A key consideration when purchasing land is the use of the land. Your land-use options will depend on several factors and you will need to understand what your options are before making a purchase.

A conveyancer can help you understand these options.

What questions should you ask about the property?

Ask the following questions:

  • Do you have approval for building on the land?
  • Are there any easements?
  • Are there any covenants restricting its use?

By using a conveyancer, you can avoid pitfalls when buying land.

They can investigate all the legal requirements that will allow you to utilise the property as you wish, which makes for a more stress-free buying experience.

Is a conveyancer required before sale by auction?

Before selling your home via auction, you are obliged to have a copy of the contract of sale. Conveyancers and solicitors are very helpful in this situation.

As well as the contract of sale, you will receive a review of the purchase agreement and an explanation of any potential risks.

If necessary, your conveyancer will also conduct negotiations regarding extending the settlement date, reducing the deposit amount, or otherwise modifying the conditions to suit your needs.

Is a conveyancer necessary to purchase a house?

Buying a house requires a transfer of ownership, so it is best to seek the assistance of a conveyancer.

The conveyancing process can be made significantly easier by hiring a conveyancer. A lawyer/agent will ensure all covenants, caveats, easements and other legal issues are in order.

Good conveyancers can do a lot more than just review contracts of sale. They can calculate and review rates and land tax on the property. They can also review government records for future planned developments.

It is a legal process to sell a property

Although you are not required to hire a conveyancer or lawyer to handle your property settlement, coordinating the paperwork and payments is complex.

Getting help from a conveyancing expert who knows the legislation in your state provides peace of mind and ensures the process runs smoothly.

Conveyancing laws and regulations in Australia are different in each state and territory.

Conveyancing laws in New South Wales

NSW Fair Trading licenses conveyancers.

Conveyancing in NSW can be completed:

  • by a licensed conveyancer
  • by a solicitor with experience in conveyancing
  • with a DIY kit

The law covering off-the-plan property has changed in NSW as of December 1, 2019. Vendors must now include a disclosure statement as well as notify of “material peculiarities.” This means that buyers are better protected.

There is a new cooling-off period of 10 business days as well as stricter sunset clause protections.

Your conveyancer will ensure you meet these new legal requirements.

Conveyancing laws in Victoria

Conveyancing in Victoria can be completed:

  • by a licensed conveyancer
  • by a solicitor with experience in conveyancing
  • with a DIY kit

A conveyancer is crucial if you reside in Victoria. All conveyancers in Victoria need professional indemnity insurance, however, a DIY conveyancer cannot obtain this insurance and is liable for any errors they make.

Conveyancing laws in Queensland

In Queensland, conveyancing transactions are handled by solicitors who specialise in real estate law.

You can do DIY conveyancing, but state authorities recommend hiring professionals.

Similar to other states, if you do your own conveyancing, you will be liable for your mistakes.

When do you need to hire a conveyancer in Queensland?

In Queensland, a conveyancer is not required until after an offer has been accepted.

You can, however, avoid errors when listing your property with the help of a conveyancer, so it’s a good idea to find a conveyancer as soon as possible.

Conveyancing laws in South Australia

South Australians are urged to use a conveyancer or solicitor to sell a home due to the complex legal work involved.

When selling your home in South Australia, you should follow these recommendations:

  • Be aware of one’s rights and obligations.
  • Conveyancers should be registered with the public license register to ensure they are authorised.
  • An assurances register can be used to determine if an individual or business has received an assurance regarding an alleged breach.

Why do you need a conveyancer in South Australia?

You are not legally obligated to appoint a conveyancer in South Australia.

Nonetheless, you should use one, and you should organise one early on in the sales process rather than waiting until the contract needs to be signed.

Doing so ensures your complete understanding of the sale process and the documents and contracts that you sign.

Conveyancing laws in Western Australia

A conveyancer in Western Australia is called a Settlement Agent. An agent must have a Settlement Agent certificate to perform their duties.

Settlement agents in WA need to complete a Diploma of Conveyancing and have a permit issued by the Department of Consumer Protection.

Settlement Agents are obligated to give you a Form 1, which authorises them to act on your behalf and requires you and your agent to sign consent.

You will also need a Form 2, which relates to any conflict of interest.

The standard method for settling a property in Western Australia is now electronic conveyancing. Paper lodgements are typically not accepted in WA.

It is a legal requirement to hire a conveyancer when you purchase a home in Western Australia.

Conveyancing laws in Tasmania

Conveyancers in Tasmania must prove their qualifications and must not work for real estate agencies or mortgage brokerages.

Most credible conveyancers will belong to the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, and will charge set prices for searches and other services.

The Tasmanian government’s website publishes a detailed description of Tasmania’s conveyancing regulations.

Conveyancing laws in the Northern Territory

The Attorney-General and Justice Department’s Agents Licensing Board manages conveyancer licensing in the Northern Territory.

A solicitor can also perform conveyancing in the NT, but they need professional indemnity insurance.

Self-conveyancing is possible, however, unlicensed individuals cannot obtain insurance and you will be held liable for any costs due to errors.

I live in the Northern Territory. Do I need a conveyancer?

Northern Territory law does not stipulate when you must use a conveyancer.

It’s still a good idea to choose a lawyer or conveyancer early so that they can help you through the process of selling your property.

Conveyancing laws in the ACT

A conveyancer in the Australian Capital Territory must be a solicitor or work for a solicitor as a conveyancer.

Some law firms specialise in conveyancing, but generally, all solicitors do conveyancing. To be sure you’re using a licensed professional, make sure your conveyancer is also a solicitor in the ACT.

The ACT Legislation Register has PDFs about all aspects of conveyancing.

Do I need a conveyancer in the ACT?

There is no legal requirement for you to use a conveyancer when buying or selling a house in the ACT.

In any event, hiring a solicitor or conveyancer is highly recommended as they possess the skills, knowledge and experience you will need when selling your home.

A guide to finding a conveyancer

Ask a professional you trust, like your accountant or lawyer, who can offer recommendations.

Another reliable option is looking at the Australian Institute of Conveyancers or LodgeX for conveyancers in your state.

Remember to choose a conveyancer who is experienced with your state or territory’s laws and regulations.

While DIY conveyancing is possible, you should be aware that real estate law is complex. If you make a mistake, the costs could be higher than if you’d hired a conveyancer!

If you are comparing conveyancing services in your area, don’t rely solely on their websites.

Make sure you choose at least three people and ask them:

  • what their fee structure is
  • whether they’re licensed in the state you live in
  • if they are solicitors (especially if you’re in Queensland or the ACT)
  • if they can provide references

You should also ask about their fees, as these can vary. For searches and other services, they will generally have set charges.

Generally, a solicitor’s fee is usually only about $100 to $200 higher than that of a conveyancer, based on how many searches they have to do or the complexity of the transaction.

Choose the right property conveyancer for you

When choosing someone to do your conveyancing, you can use a solicitor or a professional real estate conveyancer.

If your property sale is pretty straightforward, a real estate conveyancer can provide a thorough service. They could also be cheaper than a solicitor, costing you approximately $450 – $1,000.

You might prefer a conveyancing solicitor for complex property sales, as they have the deep legal knowledge necessary to handle a broader set of situations.

If you’re not sure about who you should hire, talk to your real estate agent about the specifics of your property.

Once you have a shortlist of prospective conveyancers, give them a call and ask a few questions to find the one you’re most comfortable with.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Are you registered with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?
  • When did you become a conveyancer?
  • What kind of properties do you specialise in?
  • Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
  • Do you have any other costs I need to be aware of regarding your conveyancing services?

Make sure the Australian Institute of Conveyancers verifies a conveyancer’s background before hiring them.

Pick a conveyancer with a good reputation in your area instead of the least expensive.

A good conveyancer will be thorough and have years of experience.