When buying or selling a house (or land) in Perth, you should engage professional help at the pointy end of settlement. This is called conveyancing, and it’s an essential part of ensuring Title transfer happens according to the letter of the law and no detail is missed.
Conveyancing is complicated. You may have already discovered there are two choices when it comes to enlisting professional help: property conveyancers or property lawyers. Property conveyancers and lawyers perform similar duties, with subtle – but very important – differences in what you can expect.
What Does A Conveyancer Do?
A property conveyancer is specifically trained in property settlement. Hence they are also known as settlement agents. To become a licenced property conveyancer in Western Australia, an individual requires at least a Diploma of Conveyancing and a triennial certificate granted by Consumer Protection.
We can tell you from experience, the process and study requirements to become a conveyancer are rigorous and thorough.
And for good reason. A conveyancer supports either the buyer or seller to complete settlement paperwork, manage the settlement process, carry out Title inquiries and much more:
- Identity verification required by Landgate
- Drafting and lodging settlement documents to change ownership details of ownership on the Certificate of Title
- Ensuring your finance provider is ready to provide settlement funds
- Making Title enquiries to check for encumbrances, competing claims, third-party interests etc.
- Notifying you immediately in case problems arise
- Calculating outstanding rates to ensure they are paid correctly at settlement
- Ensuring inspections are completed and all contractual clauses/special conditions are met
- Arranging and attending settlement meetings on your behalf
When should I engage a conveyancer?
Until now we have exclusively been talking about buying and selling property. Most people think a property conveyancer is only necessary when buying or selling a house, but that’s not actually the case. Conveyancers also provide services for:
- Settling commercial properties
- Change of Title (e.g. trust ownership, partnership, company ownership)
- Subdivisions and developments
- Private mortgages
- Deceased estate Title transfers
- Separation transfers
- Will advice
- Probate applications
But for now, let’s stick to residential settlements as the example. You should seek the services of a professional, trusted property conveyancer (or property lawyer) as soon as you start the buying or selling process. A conveyancer can perform essential research and enquiries before you get too far down the track.
Note: It’s not a legal requirement to engage a property conveyancer. You can take a DIY approach, however unless you have significant experience in property law and/or Title transfers, there is significant risk involved in going it alone.
What Does A Property Lawyer Do?
In the process of buying and selling a house, you can also enlist a property lawyer to carry out the conveyancing responsibilities. Because property lawyers are generally multidisciplinary, it is unlikely they will solely work as a conveyancer.
Licenced conveyancers can legally prepare paperwork, manage the settlement process, and represent you in negotiations with other parties (such as your finance provider, the buyer/seller, Landgate and local Council). A property lawyer can go one step further and offer legal advice during the course of settlement, covered by professional indemnity insurance.
Can A Conveyancer Be A Lawyer?
Yes, a conveyancer can be a lawyer. And a lawyer (normally a property lawyer) can operate as a conveyancer. Confused? We can explain.
- Property conveyancers can also hold law degrees, but specialise in conveyancing (and so call themselves a settlement agent or conveyancer instead of a lawyer)
- Lawyers can practice in more than one area of law, and can also work as a conveyancer without having any practical experience
While it’s not a requirement for a conveyancer to be a practicing lawyer, in the unlikely event your settlements winds up in court having a lawyer on your side can be useful.
Why Use A Conveyancer Instead Of A Lawyer?
Dedication to the cause (of conveyancing)
Once lawyers gain their qualification they can choose where to specialise. An experienced property lawyer will certainly be well-versed in the legal requirements and processes relating to Title transfers, but is that enough?
You may find conveyancers understand the nuances of the property market better and can help you untangle the complex web of legal requirements and paperwork during settlement. They are also focussed on your settlement, making for better service standards.
Property conveyancers will usually charge a set fee which includes comprehensive services. Anything over and above the expected level of work will be negotiated as an extra set cost.
By contrast lawyers tend to charge by the hour and may incur an upfront retainer fee. Depending on the comparable conveyancer’s fees, lawyers can end up costing far more for the same service.
Responsive to market changes
Property conveyancers spend all day, every day in the world of settlements and have their finger on the pulse of the Perth property market.
When the industry moves – such as the recent shift to online settlements – a good conveyancer will be ahead of the curve and providing guidance to clients on how to make the most of the change.
Thorough, fast settlement
Property conveyancers are, above all else, here to make things easier for the party they represent. Provided there are no large obstructions or serious delays in the settlement process, a conveyancer will be organised and practiced.
That makes for a smooth settlement process, with every step explained in plain English, all while saving you hassle and time going back-and-forth with banks, councils, Title lookups and all the other moving parts of a settlement.
Perth’s Trusted Property Conveyancers
C&R Settlements are highly respected property conveyancers with a combined 50 years’ experience and nearly $350 million worth of properties settled through PEXA.
Our comprehensive conveyancing services and dedication to the highest level of customer care means you are in the best hands from start to finish. We’re known for specialised, affordable conveyancing services that make life easy for all parties.
Contact our team to find out more about conveyancing services or speak to us about your settlement.