Conveyancing sounds like a simple process. You buy or sell a house, sign the contract, and the title deed is transferred to the buyer. Easy, right?

Well, not quite. Conveyancing is more complicated than you think and mistakes are common when an inexperienced person attempts it.

What is property conveyancing?

Property conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from the current owner (seller) to a new owner (buyer). Conveyancing is also required when subdividing land, updating a title, and when registering or amending an easement.

A conveyancer is the person who manages this process and prepares all the legal documents required by the relevant state or territory to complete the transaction.

What can go wrong during the conveyancing process

Property transactions involve a lot of paperwork and legalities in order to comply with state regulations. Conveyancers also assist with holding deposits, stamp duty, mortgage registration, survey reports and building inspections.

It’s a complex process and there are a number of things that can go wrong at any stage of the conveyancing process. 

1. Incomplete or incorrect information delaying the sale

A conveyancer knows exactly what information and documents are required in the sale of a property. They also know where to source these documents and certificates.

By law, the seller must give the buyer a Section 32 vendor statement along with the contract of sale at an auction or before finalising a private sale. The vendor statement is an important document that includes the following:

  • title document
  • particulars of mortgage
  • outgoings like rates, taxes, and other charges
  • covenants
  • easements
  • zoning certificate
  • water statement
  • building certificates
  • planned land and road developments / proposals
  • knowledge of contaminated land or restrictions

If any information is missing or incorrect, it can delay the sale of the property. Not being forthcoming with all information may even prompt the buyer to drop the sale.

2. Additional costs to fix DIY conveyancing errors

To save money, some sellers try to do the conveyancing themselves. This often leads to problems that can be costly to fix. Save yourself the headache, time and additional expense to correct mistakes and hire a conveyancer to do things properly from the start.

3. Overlooked or misunderstood clauses in the contract

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably skimmed contracts or skipped the fine print at least once in your life. We get it – contracts are tedious and can be confusing. That’s precisely why you need a conveyancer to run their eagle eye over all legal documents.

If you’re buying off the plan, it’s even more important to scrutinise a contract. Many buyers are surprised by clauses they missed or misunderstood that allow the developer leeway to change a property’s size or features, or to delay or even cancel the project.

4. Lawsuits resulting from undisclosed or incorrect information

If the buyer discovers that the Section 32 statement or contract of sale contains incorrect, false or undisclosed information, they have the right to withdraw from the sale or, worse, take legal action against you.

Hire a licenced conveyancer in Victoria

Unless you have a solid background in Victoria’s property law, it’s not a good idea to attempt the conveyancing process yourself. These are just some examples of what can go wrong if you try to do conveyancing yourself. It’s best to hire a property lawyer or licenced conveyancer who understands all the nuances of property law.

Rhiannon Leonard is a lawyer in our conveyancing team.

Sutton Laurence King is a Melbourne-based law firm experienced in property conveyancing. We’ll guide you through all the steps from pre-purchase to final transfer of title. Call us at 03 9070 9810.