A conveyancer is a solicitor, but just deals with property, right? Wrong. The two are different, and it is important to have the right one on your team, in order to avoid paying too much while still getting the advice you need.
Buying property is one of the biggest decisions most of us will make in our lifetime – it’s something you want to get right.
Every Australian state and territory has different laws, forms, regulations and taxes associated with purchasing property, so having either a solicitor or a conveyancer will help the whole process run smoothly.
“A property purchase is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make. It is therefore important to have professional advice about what you are buying,” says O’Connor Harris & Company Partner Ruth Harris.
“Solicitors and conveyancers are familiar with all the procedures and, while it may seem to be just paperwork, when you are not familiar with all the procedures it can be very time consuming.”
For a straightforward property purchase, a conveyancer can do the job. Their main responsibilities include giving advice and information about the sale of property, preparing documentation and conducting any settlement processes.
Although there is a licensing process for conveyancers, they do not have to be legal professionals. As a result, they are cheaper to hire. However, they can only provide information relating to property, so if you have additional legal questions, you might have to search elsewhere.
“Conveyancers must cease to act for a person as soon as the matter moves beyond conveyancing,” Harris explains. “When this happens, the conveyancer must refer you to a solicitor for advice.”
While conveyancers are limited to advising on your property purchase, solicitors can provide you with a wide range of legal advice in addition to your conveyancing needs, and may be necessary if your property transaction isn’t straightforward.
“If there are other matters that affect the transaction like family law, asset protection, asset structuring, tax law or estate planning, you will not be able to receive advice from a conveyancer,” Harris says. “If things get complicated with a conveyance you will need to get a solicitor’s advice.”
Solicitors are more expensive, but the investment may be worthwhile if you anticipate any legal issues – having this established relationship with a solicitor means you won’t have to scramble for one later.
Reproduced with the permission of the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA).
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