Every time a property changes hands the process is called conveyancing, and conveyancing can be done by either a solicitor or a conveyancer. Before you start the conveyancing process it’s important that you understand the differences are between the two so you can make an informed decision that suits your risk level and your budget.
A licenced conveyancer will have 2 years supervised practical experience in conveyancing before they can apply for a conveyancing licence, which they can often obtain by working for another conveyancer. During their entire career, a conveyancer may not have stepped foot inside a law firm, sat across Lawyers on difficult negotiations, or been involved in complicated issues and disputes when things go wrong. This is because if a transaction becomes litigious or is beyond the scope of what is considered conveyancing work under the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 then a Licensed Conveyancer must refer the transaction to a Solicitor for assistance. The majority of licensed conveyancers are self-employed and often run their own business out of their homes.
Lawyers on the other hand have specific knowledge about property law but also broader knowledge of the law in general. This means that a Lawyer can advise you not only on all aspects of a property conveyance, but also on issues that might relate to the conveyance, such as leasing, the tax implications of a property transaction, how best to structure your purchase for asset protection, or to reduce your land tax burden. Property laws are also constantly changing, and the states are also introducing new purchaser surcharges as well as withholding tax for purchases over $2 Million (for more information please see the other articles which are published on this site). For this reason you will want to consider going with a Lawyer who will have a better understanding of property law and the market. Also, if the transaction becomes messy and litigation is threatened, a Lawyer will be best placed and have the expertise to handle the conveyancing transaction without the need to refer it to other legal practitioner. This difference in knowledge and experience is what commonly creates a price difference between conveyancers and Lawyers.
How to decide and what questions to ask?
Hiring a conveyancer may therefore be perfectly suitable should the property value be low, the budget tight or the transaction straightforward, however when making the choice, consider how important the $500 or $1,000 saving actually means in the context of the purchase of your home or investment property, where the average property price in the Sydney market can be over $1 Million. A $500 saving would represent a 0.05% of the cost of your property, and a $1,000 price difference would represent 0.1% of the cost of your property (based on a $1 Million price), which is a small amount for the peace of mind you are getting.Budget and expertise are both important issues to compare when you are making this decision, however how well a transaction goes, and how smoothly it goes should be just as important. At Biz Lawyers, our philosophy is to “take the stress out of legal” and make the transaction as easy as possible for you.
If you are paying a low and cheap price, then do not expect to receive much personalised service, as what you pay for is what you get. More often than not you won’t get answers to questions or explanations and your conveyancer will probably not want to meet with you as this will take up their time. You will be lucky to have your calls answered or returned within an appropriate time. Don’t forget though that for conveyancers to offer a low price they often have to take on a lot of files to make a profit, so you may not get the same level of service as you would from a Lawyer. To help you with your decision, you can consider asking the following questions:
- Ask the professional if they are familiar with the latest property laws, as well as duties and tax legislation;
- Ask the professional what their qualifications are and whether they have worked on your type of property before;
- Ask the professional if they can help you with the particular needs you have in the transaction.
- Do you need advice on dealing with the agent or the bank?
- Do you need advice on capital gains tax or land tax?
- Do you need to change your will?
- Will the sale have family law implications?
- How will all of this be integrated into the price?
Your property purchase is an important event in your life, and we want you to receive the best level of service and protection. If you are involved in a complex sale or purchase which seems to have a high number of issues and risks, we would advise you to use a Lawyer as they will have a more comprehensive understanding of the law, and a lot more experience.
Good luck and we wish you all the best!