solicitor-vs-conveyancer

Costs are a significant consideration in most things that we do.  Why pay more if you don’t have to?  That motivation is fair enough.

When it comes to conveyancing, that is generally one of the main factors that influence a person’s decision as to whether to engage a solicitor or a conveyancer.

After all, a conveyancing transaction is process driven and relatively simple and therefore a conveyancer would be better suited to the task as they are generally cheaper right?  Wrong.

It is true, there is a lot of process that drives a conveyancing transaction, but that’s about all that is true about the above statement.

So what is conveyancing?  It is the process of transferring ownership of property from one person to another.  When you buy or sell a property, the ownership of that property is being passed from the person who owns the property to the person buying it.

Before you decide on who to engage when you are ready to sell or buy a property, it is critical that you consider the following:

 

Qualifications

A conveyancer does need to be licensed and is equipped to handle the procedural requirements involved in the conveyancing transaction.

A conveyancer however in not “legally qualified”, but is licensed through Fair Trading and is limited to advising on the conveyancing transaction and process exclusively.

A solicitor / lawyer is legally qualified with a university degree.  They are experienced legal practitioners that are able to advise on a range of issues that might arise in the conveyancing process, that a conveyancer cannot.

A solicitor can also assist in resolving property and/or contractual disputes that may arise in the process (or generally), whereas a conveyancer cannot.

Complexity of Transaction and Extent of Advice Required

Often transactions are more complex than you think and you may require advice outside the expertise of a conveyancer.

Conveyancing happens to be one of the most contentious areas of practice and often, disputes arise.  If that happens, you will need the services of a solicitor to assist in resolving that dispute.  Whether it be in providing legal advice or attending court, or any number of services.

It may not be dispute related, but as part of the transaction there may be incidental things you need assistance with or advice on.  For instance, there may be family law implications where partners are in the process of being separated, there may be questions with respect to asset protection, leases in place, strata issues, asset structuring or estate planning.

Simply put, a conveyancer cannot give you legal advice or provide assistance outside the confines of the sale contract and the transaction itself.

A solicitor is more versatile and can provide you with the guidance, assistance, advice and protection no matter what may arise during the process, from providing you legal advice as to the meaning and implications regarding the terms of the contract you are involved with, to handling disputes and other objections, to providing incidental advice and services that may be relevant to your individual circumstances.

Conveyancing transactions can become complex very quickly and they are indeed the largest transactions most of us will ever be involved with, so it is crucial you engage the best person for the job to protect you and your investment.

Costs

There is a common belief that solicitors are far more expensive than conveyancers.

In a lot of cases that is true, but not always.

The reality is both conveyancers and solicitors alike can be quite expensive.  Many have hidden fees that you are unaware of until you receive your invoice.  Many will charge you a fixed rate for a very specific scope of services, but as soon as something is required outside that scope, the fees can escalate very quickly.  Some even charge according to the value of the property involved.

Gavel & Page Lawyers do not believe in any of these approaches.  We have one low and ultra-competitive fixed fee for the conveyancing transaction.  Nothing is hidden and you will know what the total fee will be upfront.

Another significant items, often overlooked, is the disbursements required for such transactions.  Other service providers hook unsuspecting individuals by merely promoting their professional fees, but do not disclose that other costs are involved in addition to their professional fees.

When you sell a property, attached to every contract prepared on your behalf in NSW, are a number of documents that are required.  These include things like a title search, sewer diagram, dealings that may be on title (like easements), council related documents and others.  These are mandatory and not optional.

These documents are held by third parties and are required to be purchased and attached to the contract.

Some solicitors and conveyancers require payment for these upfront, Gavel and Page Lawyers do not.  We will pay for them and seek reimbursement later on, when the matter is completed.

Similarly, there may be additional charges when buying a home, typically with what is known as “post exchange searches”.  Many of these are optional and will (or should) be discussed with you, with tailored advice provided to you at the relevant time.

These may involve searches with, for instance, Roads and Maritime Services, or Jemena Gas, or there may be heritage related searches.  The reason for such searches are to ensure that no other body or institution has any vested interest in the property your buying.  Most people would want to know if the Roads and Maritime Service is planning to widen the road and will require to acquire your property.

The majority of solicitors and conveyancers will also charge you for things like photocopying, telephone calls, paper clips and envelopes.  These are in addition.  Gavel & Page Lawyers do not.

All of this aside, be mindful of the fact that if you have chosen a conveyancer, that soon enough you may be required to also engage a solicitor to handle an issue that has arisen that the conveyancer is not equipped to deal with.  This will result in you paying far more than you would have if you had engaged a solicitor in the first place.

So do not be fooled by the slick marketing tactics out there and ensure you know what costs you will be liable for and ensure you know these costs upfront.

Summary

Regardless of who you choose to hire, you need to ensure that you engage them very early on to ensure you have the right advice and guidance as early as possible.  Mistakes and uncertainties can cause delay and be costly.

When you have decided to sell your property, or when you are in the market to buy one, we urge you to choose a solicitor and not a conveyancer.

Remember:

  • These transactions are large and the most important / largest investment for most people
  • You need to ensure you are protected and given the best advice and guidance
  • You need to ensure that you have somebody who can provide you with legal advice, not just regarding the contract, but for any number of items or disputes that may arise or become relevant
  • Such transactions can become messy and complex very quickly,
  • You need somebody who is legally trained and qualified with extensive experience handling such transactions
  • Specially trained providers will minimise and even prevent issues from arising that a less experienced practitioner may be unable to avoid
  • You need clarity and transparency regarding the process
  • You must understand the process, your rights and obligations and be sure to make informed decisions
  • You need certainty as to your costs and you should have those costs fixed and ensure they are ultra-competitive

 

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