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The Process of Conveyancing and Why You Need a Professional Conveyancer for Your Property Settlement

The Process of Conveyancing and Why You Need a Professional Conveyancer for Your Property Settlement

Purchasing or selling a property can be a daunting process because it is a complex procedure. It is a large financial asset with a lot of paperwork required in order for the property ownership to be legally transferred from the seller to the buyer.

Engaging a professional conveyancer will help you ensure that your property sale or purchase goes smoothly.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring legal ownership of a property from one to another. It typically begins once the buyer and seller have agreed to the terms of the property sale contract.

What is a conveyancer?

Conveyancers are professionals who can assist in the transfer of property ownership from one party to another (which can be for a house, unit, land, or commercial property). In Western Australia, they are commonly known as a property settlement lawyer (conveyancing lawyer) or a property settlement agent. In this page, we refer to both as conveyancers.

What does a conveyancer do?

Conveyancers are responsible for arranging for the transfer of the legal ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer in accordance with the terms of the property sale contract, including the preparation and lodgement of legal documents, such as contracts of sale, and transfers of land with relevant government authorities.

Conveyancers conduct searches to ensure that there are no outstanding local council orders and can notify you of any restrictions or easements that may affect the property’s use, as well as notify the relevant local government authorities of the impending transfer of ownership.

So, if you want to get the keys in your hands sooner rather than later, you definitely need a conveyancer working on your behalf.

When do you need a conveyancer?

Typically, at the house contract negotiation stage, the buyer and the seller are each asked to nominate a conveyancer to represent them for settlement.

What’s involved in the conveyancing process?

The conveyancing process is quite interesting because a lot goes on behind the scenes of a property transfer, and it can be a dynamic process.  

However, most settlements follow the same steps, although more complex property transactions might require extra considerations. Below is a summary of a typical property purchase/sale process with a conveyancer: 

Pre-contract stage: Before a contract is signed, you have the option of hiring a property lawyer to review your contract. Receiving legal advice prior to signing a contract could save you thousands of dollars of unexpected costs after settlement. Typically, this service includes:

  • One on one consultation with an experienced lawyer
  • Legal advice on key terms and conditions of the REIWA contract, including any special conditions that may be of benefit to you before you make an offer

Exchange of contracts: Once the contract of sale is ready, both parties will sign the contract, and the real estate agent will arrange for the exchange of contracts between the seller and the buyer. This process includes agreeing on a settlement date, arranging any special conditions to be included in the contract, and the paying of the deposit by the buyer.

At this stage, you will be asked to nominate a conveyancer.

Post-contract stage: After the contract is exchanged, this is where the conveyancing process begins.

Typically, the conveyancing process involves:

  • Reviewing the contract of sale to check the terms
  • Conducting a title search
  • Preparing relevant government forms
  • Notifying the relevant government authorities of the transfer
  • Conducting relevant government searches
  • Arranging for the buyer or seller’s bank to prepare for settlement (if applicable)
  • Paying the relevant transfer (stamp) duty on the behalf of the buyer
  • Calculating and adjusting for rates and taxes
  • Completing settlement

Settlement stage: On the settlement date, the conveyancer will check that the parties are satisfied to proceed to settlement, arrange to pay any outstanding rates, and ensure that the property ownership is legally transferred.

You might ask, when do you pay for the conveyancing service? The conveyancer is paid at the settlement stage where the fee for the conveyancing service is deducted from the sale proceeds (in case of the seller) or the purchase equity (in case of the buyer). This means that, generally, you do not need to pay your property conveyancing fee upfront.

Post-settlement stage: After settlement, the conveyancer finalises any remaining tasks, such as notifying government agencies of the property transfer, and provide all the final legal documents and title to the property to their client.

The main thing to note is that a good conveyancer will stay in touch throughout the conveyancing process, and they will act as the “go-between” with the other side (the buyer or the seller) to ensure that the transaction proceeds smoothly.  

Can a conveyancer provide legal advice?

In Western Australia, a property settlement agent and a lawyer are licensed by different governing bodies. Whilst both can conduct conveyancing, the major difference is that a lawyer is also licensed to provide advice on property law, including your property sale contract whereas a property settlement agent is not.

The next question is, should I hire a property settlement lawyer, or a property settlement agent? Below are some points for consideration:

Access to legal expertise: Property settlement lawyers are trained and experienced in property law and understand the legal requirements for buying and selling property. This can be particularly handy if you come across legal issues with your house purchase/sale contract, such as:

  • Caveats
  • Deceased estate
  • Divorce property transfer
  • Disputes over property condition
  • Disputes over special conditions

Less stress and wasted time: If you have legal issues with your settlement, then having a lawyer means it can handle all aspects of your matter without having to refer you to another firm. This can reduce stress, time and cost.

Cost-effective, legal support: Property settlement lawyers charge much like a property settlement agent. Fees are fully disclosed up front and usually includes a property settlement service fee, and government search fees and PEXA fee. If you require legal advice, your lawyer is required to disclose any fees to you.

Looking for a Perth-based conveyancer?

When selecting a conveyancer, it is important to choose a licensed professional with a good reputation and experience in handling property transactions.

At West Perth Legal, we are not only qualified to conduct your property settlement, we are also licensed to provide property law advice. This is very handy should you come across legal issues with your contract.

We offer competitive market rates. Contact us for an obligation free quote. We will ensure that your property transaction is handled professionally and efficiently.

Phone: (08) 9321 9395


Disclaimer: the content of this article is provided as general information only and does not constitute legal or other advice on any specific matter and should not be relied upon as such. If you are seeking or require legal advice, please contact our lawyers.