Vendors can do their own property conveyancing but it has risks. Conveyancing services must be registered and their status checked. Solicitors can advise on all aspects of a property purchase.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. It involves preparing legal documents, checking for problems or restrictions relating to the property, and exchanging money between the buyer and the seller.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) conveyancing
If you do your own conveyancing, you should buy an up-to-date conveyancing kit. These are advertised, and are available from major booksellers.
DIY involves risks. If you sell and give false or incomplete information in the vendor’s statement, the purchaser may avoid the contract. When you buy, the greatest risk is discovering a problem about the title or the building after you sign the contract.
Conveyancing companies compete with solicitors.
On 1 July 2008 the Conveyancers Act 2006 (Vic) commenced. This is comprehensive legislation that provides a statutory base for the regulation of (non-solicitor) conveyancers in Victoria and deals in detail with licensing, qualifications, professional indemnity insurance, the operation of a Property Fund, auditing of business records and other important features. As eligibility to be licensed has various entry requirements depending on experience and competency, it is in your interests to enquire about the company you have selected and see how it is operating under this legislation, or if it is governed by this legislation at the time of your transaction.
A conveyancing company must be registered under this legislation in order to charge fees for its services. The Business Licensing Authority (BLA) has an online public register (www.consumer.vic.gov.au/bla) where you can check the status of a BLA licensee or registrant. You can also request this information by contacting the BLA (see “Contacts”).
Solicitors give advice about all the elements in the transaction of transferring property from the seller to the buyer. Buyers can obtain advice about the contract documents, manner of ownership, stamp duty, tax implications and other legal aspects of the settlement process. Sellers can hire a solicitor to prepare the contact documents and to guide them through the legal process of selling their property.
Solicitors have professional indemnity insurance to protect their clients against negligence. The guarantee fund compensates clients who lose money through a solicitor’s dishonesty. Solicitors should give competitive quotes for conveyancing.