Educational Blog Series: Four questions you should ask your conveyancing lawyer

15 February 2016

Welcome to part two of our three part educational blog series by lawlab Legal Director Richie Muir who explained last week the fundamentals of conveyancing. This week Richie looks at five questions you should ask your conveyancing lawyer, and will next week offer tips for a stress free conveyancing process.

Buying a property is often the biggest financial transaction a person will make in their life so you need to choose a trusted team of professionals to help guide you through the process.

For sellers, it’s also vital to have solid support to ensure a smooth transaction and help you take your next step on the property ladder with confidence.

One of the most important people to have at your side is your conveyancing lawyer, who is your key go-to person in any property transaction. Your conveyancing lawyer whose job it is to protect your interests and help you secure your dream home.

As our last post, Conveyancing 101, explained, conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property title from the seller to the buyer. This might sound simple, but in fact it can be complex with many documents, deadlines and parties to deal with.

Not all conveyancers or lawyers can handle all types of conveyancing transactions so it’s worth asking if your conveyancing lawyer has had experience in dealing with the type of property you’re buying or selling, or your situation (be it off the plan or a SMSF purchase).

Real estate agents will ask both the buyer and seller to provide contact details of their conveyancing lawyer so it’s wise to do your homework well in advance and be ready to nominate your conveyancing lawyer when you put a property on the market or make an offer as a buyer.

To help find the right conveyancing lawyer for you, make sure you ask these five key questions so you know what to expect:

1. What will the conveyancing service cost?
Costs can include the conveyancing lawyer’s professional fees, costs for searches and other disbursements such as stamp duty and registration fees. It’s also a good idea to find out what services are out of scope and will attract an extra fee. The transaction might not go according to your plans – ask your conveyancing lawyer to clearly set out what additional work may need to be done, and how much it will cost. We all know legal advice doesn’t come cheap, but buyers and sellers can avoid unexpected and excessive costs by choosing a conveyancing lawyer that offers a comprehensive service for a fixed fee.

2. Is it in the contract?
Make sure you know exactly what you are buying or selling, which means discussing your expectations with your conveyancing lawyer and clarifying what has been included or omitted from the contract of sale. For example, don’t just assume that a property comes with all fixtures and fittings. You might have viewed a property with a dishwasher installed or window treatments in every room, but some people will take these items when they move out. When buying off the plan make sure you double check the schedule of fixtures and finishes in your contract. Remember - artists impressions and marketing material of your yet to be built property are just for show.

3. Do you use technology to streamline the conveyancing process?
Tech savvy conveyancing lawyers are embracing conveyancing software and online platforms like Rundl, which allows all parties in a conveyancing transaction to login from anywhere to monitor the transaction and share and approve documents. This technology can speed up communication and collaboration between buyers and sellers and their brokers, lenders, real estate agents, accountants, and conveyancing lawyers. Many national and local real estate agencies and mortgage brokers have embraced the Rundl platform to ensure their property deals are settled on time.

4. What are the timelines?
A good conveyancing lawyer will explain the conveyancing process to you from the start, set our any critical dates that you need to be aware of and let you know what documents you’ll need to sign and when. It’s important to find out how your conveyancing lawyer will communicate with you so you have enough time to organise your documents or finances.
While the settlement period can vary, most settlements for existing properties in Australia are between 30 to 60 days after exchange of contract. If you’re buying off the plan then it can take several years for settlement to occur. The majority of the action happens in the two weeks leading up to settlement when transfer and loan documents are signed, settlement adjustments are prepared and settlement is booked between all the parties to the transaction.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post with advice on how to make the conveyancing process as stress-free as possible.

Disclaimer This information is general in nature only and does not constitute legal advice. Lawlab accepts no liability for the content of this information. You should obtain legal advice specific to your individual circumstances. Lawlab’s liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
Richie Muir
Richie Muir
Legal Director

Richie is an experienced and commercially astute lawyer specialising in property law. He leads lawlab’s team of legal advisors and is the go-to problem solver for complex or unusual matters.  Having spent many years living and studying in Europe he now calls Brisbane home. Outside of work he juggles his time helping bring up his 2 young daughters, playing football and developing property.

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