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What is a Conveyancer and what does a Conveyancer do? Most people know Conveyancers work in the buying and selling of property, but they’re less clear about how they differ from lawyers.

Let’s start with the basics.

A Conveyancer is a property specialist

As Conveyancers, we only do property transactions. We don’t do any other kinds of legal work.

Property is mostly the buying and selling of houses, units or land. It includes residential and commercial properties.

It may surprise you to learn that Conveyancers are also licensed to deal with a range of other transactions related to property. Many practices don’t provide these services – younger Conveyancers have often studied straight from school and don’t have broad experience – but we offer them at V J Tait & Associates. You can be comfortable that we have the knowledge and experience to handle them, since I spent many years as a paralegal in various law firms before starting my own Conveyancing practice. (Stand-alone conveyancing practices were not permitted in NSW until the mid 1990s.)

These services include:

  • Dealing with commercial leasing contracts
  • The buying and selling of businesses
  • Preparing and witnessing Enduring Powers of Attorney when working on a property transaction – this is often helpful for elderly clients or those going overseas
  • Transfer of title within the family

Additionally, we are often named in Family Court documents to assist with the sale of a matrimonial home. As a neutral party not representing the husband or the wife, we can work on the sale and nothing else.

Conveyancing qualifications

Conveyancing qualifications are particular to each state. As such V J Tait & Associates are licensed for NSW only.

To become a Conveyancer you have to do a course through Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University or TAFE. On completion you receive a Diploma of Conveyancing. All Conveyancers are required to have a minimum of 2 years on the job training and experience before they can obtain their Conveyancers licence.

There are also requirements for continuing professional education, every year. Lawyers have these too, but there is one significant difference:

  • All the education a Conveyancer does will be related to property and property transactions.
  • Lawyers can choose education in any area of law which interests them.  They often focus on what their chosen speciality is – family law, compensation or commercial law, leaving property law as a low priority.

There are lawyers who specialise in property and will focus all their education on that, but when you compare a Conveyancer to a generalist lawyer, the Conveyancer is likely to be more up-to-date thanks to this requirement. For example, in November this year there was a new First Home Buyers Property Tax introduced. One month later, we are already up to date on that.

Every Conveyancer in our office does more than the minimum education requirement. It’s the only way to stay on top of everything you might need to know when doing the work.

Can you do your own conveyancing?

Technically, it’s possible to do your own conveyancing, but there’s no good reason to.

You might look at the contract and think it’s fine, but unless you have experience, you’re likely to miss potential issues. I’ve had this situation so often with clients. For example, if you’re planning to put in a pool, have you considered checking where the sewer lines run? Or Easements, or even a restriction that may prevent you putting in a swimming pool?

Checking this kind of detail is what Conveyancers do day in, day out. We handle multiple transactions every week. We know what to look for!

Remember too that there are multiple parties involved. Conveyancers are very used to dealing with the mortgage broker or bank as well as the other party, to ensure that everything is ready on time. This is even more important if you are both selling and buying. Delays in settling the sale may affect your ability to complete the purchase. Alternatively, if the purchase is held up, you may find yourself with nowhere to live.

Property transactions are high value. There’s always going to be some level of stress, but with over 30 years of experience, we know how to plan ahead, prepare for eventualities and keep that to a minimum. If, like most people, you only buy every 5 or 10 years, why take the risk of doing everything yourself?

What’s more, all settlements are now handled electronically via the PEXA platform, and you have to be accredited to use that platform. So even if you opt to do your own conveyancing, you’ll still need to hire an agent to complete your settlement.

You have found a property to buy – when should you send the contract to your Conveyancer?

If you can, send the contract to us even before you put in an offer!

I always advise clients that if they like a property at the open home, they should ask for a copy of the contract. Then when you’re reviewing things at the end of the day, if there’s one you really like, send me the contract for review.

I can take a quick look and point out any issues. Sometimes we know we’ll be able to get amendments. Sometimes we suspect it will be a drama. The last thing you want is to exchange contracts and then find yourself trying to make amendments before the cooling off period ends, with an unwilling vendor.

If you buy at auction, it’s even more important to review the contract early. If you are successful at the Auction, you are buying that property warts and all! There is no cooling off period.

Why use a Conveyancer instead of a lawyer?

Our focus on property isn’t just in our continuing education. It’s in our day-to-day work as well.

Wouldn’t you rather use a professional who focuses on property every single day?

Another thing to consider is Conveyancers are far more hands-on than most lawyers. In a legal firm, it’s often the secretary or admin staff doing the actual work, with the lawyer supervising and signing off. Conveyancers do more themselves.

Conveyancers are generally more accessible too. We don’t go to court. It’s easy to reach us. I personally take calls out of hours when necessary.

In terms of risk and consumer protection, there’s no difference. Conveyancers are insured to give consumer protection in exactly the same way.

You can see there are plenty of reasons to use a Conveyancer. So if you’re buying, selling or engaged in other property transactions in NSW, why not get in touch and chat about how we can help.

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