You know you need a conveyancer when you buy a house, but do you know what they actually do?
If you’ve bought a property before, you’ll have some idea of what conveyancers do, but first home buyers, especially, are often in the dark about the role conveyancers play.
Let’s see if we can unravel the mystery, so you’re informed and ready when you buy your next property. Better still, you’ll know how to find the best conveyancer for your property purchase.
Is a conveyancer a lawyer?
The question: ‘Is a conveyancer a lawyer’ is one people often ask. However, the answer isn’t straightforward. Conveyancers can have a law degree and they can also be people who have completed a conveyancing course.
If your conveyancer has a law degree, they’re usually called a conveyancing solicitor. This helps you differentiate between a conveyancer with a law degree and a person who’s done a conveyancing course.
In most Australian states there’s no legal requirement for conveyancers to have a law degree. In fact, in all states, except Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, they can be licensed conveyancers without a law degree.
Will a conveyancing solicitor do a better job than a conveyancer?
It’s important to know that both a conveyancer and a conveyancing solicitor can do an equally good job overseeing and managing the sale of one property to another. So it’s wrong to say that one type of conveyancer does a better job when talking about a straightforward conveyancing job.
Like any job, there are people who are more popular or more successful than others in the same profession.
The difference is that a solicitor is also trained to advise on other aspects of the law, such as tax, wills and probate. So if these issues arise during the conveyancing process, they’ll be able to advise you. A conveyancer, on the other hand, can only advise you about legal aspects that are part of the conveyancing process. If other legal issues arise when they’re acting as your conveyancer, they must refer you to a solicitor or lawyer.
Is a conveyancer a lawyer or is a conveyancer a solicitor?
A lawyer is an informal umbrella term used to describe all types of legal practitioners, including solicitors, barristers and judges. So is a conveyancer a lawyer? Perhaps. If you hear about a conveyancer who is a lawyer, that likely means they’re qualified solicitors who specialise in conveyancing. So, it might be better to ask ‘Is a conveyancer a solicitor?’
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer has completed an approved VET qualification, such as an Advanced Diploma of Conveyancing, or they have a law degree. Conveyancers must register with their state or territory body before they commence working. In Victoria, for example, they register with the Public register of licensed surveyors on the Consumer Affairs website. In NSW, conveyancers register with ABLIS. The peak body that represents conveyancers across Australia is the Australian Institute of Conveyances (AIC). It supports the profession of conveyancing and provides training and professional development to its members.
What does a conveyancer do?
A conveyancer manages the change of ownership (also called the transferral of title deeds) of a property from one person, or entity, to another.
If you’re selling your current home and purchasing another home, you’ll need to engage a conveyancer to manage both your sale and your new purchase.
Your conveyancer will prepare a contract for the sale of your property and, if you’re buying another property, they’ll review the sales contract prepared by the vendor’s conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor.
The work of a conveyancer doesn’t stop there. They also check your property complies with local council regulations, that it meets building standards and that the owner of the property you’re buying is owned by the person selling it. They’ll deal with your real estate agent, your bank and the titles office.
You conveyancer will also represent you at settlement. Where they used to physically meet with the other party’s representative, they will now generally conduct your settlement online.
The online platform PEXA was initiated by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and it operates in every state except Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
If your conveyancer uses PEXA, you can use the PEXA app to track the progress of your purchase or sale.
It’s always a good idea to work with your conveyancer and follow their instructions promptly. There are deadlines associated with buying and selling property and not being attentive to tasks can result in your settlement being delayed.
Your conveyancer must be covered by a professional indemnity insurance
Licensed conveyancers must be covered by professional indemnity insurance when they’re working. It’s best to check out the specific requirements of this insurance in your state or territory.
In NSW, the Approved Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy is legislated by law and must be approved by Commissioner for Fair Trading.
In Victoria, it’s a legal requirement that conveyancers have a minimum of $2 million professional indemnity insurance.
It’s a good idea to confirm that your conveyancer has current professional indemnity insurance. While this might sound like a confronting question, it can be a simple enquiry such as ‘Could you tell me about your job? Do you need to be registered or have special insurance?’
At Entry Conveyancing, we’re always happy to answer these types of questions. We want our clients to be completely at ease and know they’re working with top-quality professionals.
Solicitors and lawyers are required to have professional indemnity insurance and this covers any conveyancing they do for clients.
Note that a conveyancer (without a law degree) is insured for conveyancing work only. They cannot offer legal advice outside the normal work they’re licensed to perform as a conveyancer. If you need legal advice for tax matters, probate or any other area of the law, your conveyancer will refer you to a lawyer for specialised legal advice.
When is the best time to hire a conveyancer?
Don’t wait until you’ve signed your contract of sale before you start searching for a conveyancer. As soon as you know you’re buying or selling property, start asking for recommendations from family, colleagues and friends.
Then touch base with the conveyancer. Email or phone them and explain your situation. Ask them questions about their work and even drop in to say hello.
Can you change to a new conveyancer if it’s not working out?
You can move to a new conveyancer if you’re not happy with the one you’ve employing, but there may be a better way to approach this question. And that’s to do everything you can to ensure you’ve chosen the right conveyancer in the first place.
Check the conveyancer database in your state or territory to make sure your conveyancer is licensed. Ask for recommendations and have a list of questions ready so you can get the information you need. Was settlement on time? Were they easy to talk to? Did any problems arise and how were they resolved? Is a conveyancer a lawyer?
If you conduct due diligence about your potential conveyancer, chances are you’ll be thrilled with the outcome and your new home!
We’re super-proud of our conveyancing team at Entry Conveyancing. We don’t just deliver great service; we treat our clients like colleagues. When you work in a relaxed happy workplace it’s contagious right!
If you asked: ‘Is a conveyancer a lawyer?’ at Entry Conveyancing. The answer is yes. The team manager is a conveyancing solicitor and we’re pleased to make that legal expertise available to our clients.
Contact us today for more information.