It’s time to buy or sell your home, but the costs are adding up fast. There’s stamp duty, lender’s fees, conveyancing fees, and any other professional’s fees such as real estate agents or buyer’s agents you may have to include in your budget.
If you’re looking to save some cash, it can be tempting to tackle the conveyancing duties yourself. Because conveyancing isn’t that complicated … or is it?
The conveyancing process
Conveyancing is the legal process of buying and selling property and transferring the property’s title from a seller to a vendor. Some of the steps involved in this process include:
- Examining and forming the contract for sale
- Arranging building and pest inspections if applicable
- Dealing with lenders
- Conducting property and land title searches
- Calculating settlement adjustments for council rates, water and strata fees if applicable
- Preparing and registering documents such as the transfer of title document
- Arranging settlement (the act of transferring ownership in exchange for the purchase price)
At first glance, these tasks might seem straightforward. But, dig a little deeper, and it gets complicated fast.
The devil is in the details
Conveyancing law can be confusing as it’s full of technical terms and legal jargon. Every document and form has to be reviewed, filled in correctly and lodged at the appropriate time.
Getting your head around all these legal requirements is vital, as missing a deadline or making a mistake can have serious consequences – including the sale falling through, losing your deposit and legal action.
Professional conveyancers in Victoria are registered by Consumer Affairs Victoria and must have professional indemnity insurance. This insurance protects you from these consequences should an error occur.
However, as a DIY conveyancer, you cannot get this insurance – leaving you liable if it goes wrong.
Then there’s the real possibility of unwelcome surprises hiding in all the title and legal documentation you have to wade through.
Take easements, covenants and caveats for example:
- Easements are when an organisation or an individual has a legal right to use or access part of the land that may restrict what an owner can do
- Covenants can restrict how an owner builds or alters the property
- Caveats are when a third party has a legal interest in the property, such as being owed money by the seller
If you’re the seller, you need to disclose this information as failure to do so opens you up to legal action.
As a buyer, these can impact your enjoyment of your new home, so checking for them needs to form part of your due diligence.
Choose your words with care
A property’s contract of sale will often include special conditions, such as a ‘subject to finance’ clause.
While drafting these may sound straightforward, you need to choose your words with care. Otherwise, you may find yourself legally bound to something you didn’t want or mean. A professional conveyancer can help you avoid these pitfalls.
Just because you can DIY, doesn’t mean you should
While it’s not a legal requirement to hire a professional conveyancer, there is a lot at stake if you don’t and mistakes can be costly.
Conveyancers are professionals for a reason. They help you navigate the complex process of buying and selling property, and give you the peace of mind that your interests are protected.
Adam Zuchowski is a senior property lawyer at offtheplanconveyancer.com.au.
Selling or buying property? Contact us today or call 03 9070 9810 to find out how Sutton Laurence King can make your transaction hassle-free.