What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property from the vendor to the buyer.
- preparing legal documents;
- checking for problems or restrictions relating to the property; and
- exchanging money between the buyer and the vendor.
Who does the conveyancing?
It is difficult for a party to a real estate transaction to do their own conveyancing, as conveyancing in Victoria is now done via an electronic platform to which solicitors and licensed conveyancers must subscribe. Further, many contracts require the buyer to be represented by a lawyer or licensed conveyancer in the transaction.
Conveyancers vs solicitors
Conveyancing practices compete with solicitors for conveyancing work. The Conveyancers Act 2006 (Vic) (‘Conveyancers Act’) commenced on 1 July 2008. This comprehensive legislation provides a statutory base for the regulation of (non-solicitor) conveyancers in Victoria and deals in detail with licensing, qualifications, professional indemnity insurance, the operation of a property fund, and auditing of business records.
Before a conveyancer is granted a conveyancing licence, the law requires them to meet various requirements, including having a certain number of years of supervised conveyancing experience, and showing a certain standard of competency.
You can check a conveyancer’s licence via the public register of the Business Licensing Authority (BLA).
Solicitors also do conveyancing but can also give legal advice about all the elements of the process of transferring ownership of a property from a vendor to a buyer.
Buyers can obtain legal advice about the contract of sale, the manner of ownership, stamp duty, tax implications and other legal aspects of the settlement process from a solicitor.
Vendors can engage a solicitor to prepare the contract of sale and to guide them through the legal process of selling their property.
Solicitors are also required by law to have professional indemnity insurance to protect their clients against professional negligence. This insurance is managed by the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee (LPLC). Solicitors are also regulated by the Victorian Legal Services Board (VLSB) and Commissioner. (For more information about the LPLC and VLSB, and how they can help consumers, visit https://lplc.com.au and www.lsb.vic.gov.au, respectively.)
For conveyancing services, most solicitors charge the same fixed fee as good conveyancers:
- for a house: approximately $1100 plus disbursements of around $250;
- for an apartment with one owners corporation: approximately $1100 plus disbursements of around $450, depending on what certificates need to be ordered.
The best way to choose a good conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor is to check the online reviews and to ask for recommendations.