How Does Conveyancing Work?

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There is a lot to consider when you are purchasing a home.

If you’ve got children, one of your first priorities will be making sure it is near a good school. Then there’s the matter of your daily commute, meaning you want a home that’s close to public transport or within an easy drive to the office. Or perhaps it’s simply about a lifestyle choice: the city or the suburbs, the country or on the coast.

In any case, the tough decisions won’t end once you’ve found “the one”. Of course there’s the matter of the asking price, and how much you’re prepared to spend, but there’s also the matter of conveyancing if and when you reach an agreement with the seller.

What is conveyancing?

Explained in its simplest terms, conveyancing is the process by which ownership of real property (the title) officially changes hands. In the context of residential real estate transactions, ownership is usually transferred from one person to another. However, conveyancing is also used to facilitate the legal transfer of property between businesses or organisations engaged in residential or commercial real estate transactions.

Conveyancing is a lengthy, complicated process that typically occurs in three phases comprising the pre-contract, pre-completion and post-completion stages.

Because there is plenty of paperwork involved at each stage, it is essential to get proper legal advice before you try to tackle it yourself. Ideally, you should hire an experienced professional – such as a lawyer or conveyancer who is supervised by a lawyer – to handle this for you. There are two compelling reasons to do so. The first is that a seasoned professional is less likely to make costly mistakes; and the second is that he or she will have the proper insurance cover in the event anything goes awry.

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    In addition to assisting with the transfer of property stemming from the purchase and sale of residential or commercial real estate, a lawyer with relevant experience can help you with:

    • The subdivision of land;
    • amending a title (i.e. registering a death);
    • registering, changing or removing an easement.

    Conveyancing help for buyers and sellers

    Although we have framed this article in the context of buying residential real estate, it is important to note that lawyers who specialise in conveyancing assist both buyers and sellers.

    If you’re the buyer, a conveyancing lawyer specialising in this area will help you by:

    • Preparing, clarifying  and lodging all applicable legal documents;
    • researching  the property and its certificate of title – undertaking all of the relevant Council and government searches, checking for easements, type of  title and any other relevant issues that may impact your use of the property;
    • ensuring the down payment goes into a trust account;
    • calculating rates and tax adjustments;
    • settling the  property – acting for you, advising when the property is settled,  contacting the appropriate financial institution when final payments are being  made;
    • making your interests known to the vendor or agent.

    If you’re the seller, your conveyancing lawyer will help you by completing all applicable legal documents and acting as your representative in relevant interactions with the buyer. Specifically, he or she will:

    • Make sure all contractual obligations and deadlines are fulfilled;
    • ensure that you receive all payments due and that any remaining rates and other charges are also addressed;
    • make sure the payment and proper legal discharge of any mortgages on your property are taken care of;
    • review all relevant documents for accuracy before you sign them;
    • attend settlement on your behalf;
    • draft the final settlement statements.

    Selecting someone to oversee conveyancing

    With so much at stake, it is important that you retain someone with the appropriate expertise.  You shouldn’t hire anyone until you’ve done your homework.

    At the very least, consult with family, friends or trusted colleagues to see whom they might recommend. If they don’t know of anyone, don’t be afraid to ask legal, financial or real estate professionals for recommendations.

    Once you’ve chosen some viable candidates, make appointments with each one. During your meeting, don’t be afraid to ask some important questions, including the following:

    • Do you specialise in residential or commercial properties?
    • Can you provide a detailed list of costs, both verbally and in writing?
    • Can you give me an idea of how often you’ll communicate with me and how you plan to get in touch (phone, email, text, etc.)?
    • Can you give me a verbal and written estimate of how long everything will take on settlement day?

    Finally, have a thorough background check done to ensure the person you’ll work with is legally allowed to perform conveyancing tasks and have not had any complaints made against them. This is especially important if you are interested in hiring someone you found online.

    Don’t leave anything to chance when you’re buying your dream home. Contact us to learn more about conveyancing today.

    At Big Law we provide holistic legal solutions to legal matters.

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