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 vendor to the buyer. Conveyancing involves preparing legal documents, checking for problems or restrictions relating to the property, and exchanging money between the buyer and the vendor.
A person who is not represented by a qualified solicitor or licensed conveyancer when they buy or sell property is called a “non-represented party”.
If you chose to be a non-represented party and do your own conveyancing, you should buy an up-to-date conveyancing kit. These are available from major booksellers.
Doing your own conveyancing is risky. If you sell a property and give false or incomplete information in the vendor’s statement, the buyer may avoid the contract of sale. When you buy a property, the greatest risk is discovering a problem with the title or the building after you sign the contract.
For all Victorian property transactions, self-represented parties have to verify their identity. Australia Post is authorised to verify the identity of self-acting parties. For more information about identity verification, visit https://auspost.com.au/id-and-document-services/identity-checks-for-property-transfers/identity-checks-non-represented-parties-victoria.
Conveyancing practices compete with solicitors for conveyancing work.
The Conveyancers Act 2006 (Vic) (“Conveyancers Act”) commenced on 1 July 2008. This comprehensive legislation 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, and auditing of business records.
Before a conveyancer is granted a conveyancing licence, the law requires them to meet various requirements, including having a certain number of years conveyancing experience, and showing a certain standard of competency.
Therefore, it is in your interests to enquire about the background and experience of the conveyancing practice you have selected and to establish whether the practice’s principal conveyancer is licensed.
A conveyancing practice must be registered under the Conveyancers Act 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 can give advice about all the elements of the process of transferring ownership of a property from a vendor to a buyer. Buyers can obtain legal advice about the contract of sale, the manner of ownership, stamp duty, tax implications and other legal aspects of the settlement process from a solicitor. Vendors can engage a solicitor to prepare the contract of sale and to guide them through the legal process of selling their property.
Solicitors are also required by law to have professional indemnity insurance to protect their clients against professional negligence. This insurance is managed by the Legal Practitioners’ Liability Committee (LPLC). Solicitors are also regulated by the Victorian Legal Services Board (VLSB) and Commissioner. (For more information about the LPLC and VLSB, and how they can help consumers, visit https://lplc.com.au and www.lsb.vic.gov.au, respectively.)