Agents, Solicitors & Conveyancers. Who does what when you’re buying a house?
There are a couple of key people you’ll meet when buying a house (and we’re not talking about your new neighbours). You’ll probably hear the words ‘agent’, ‘conveyancer’, and ‘solicitor’ flying around – but who are they, and why do you need them?
Think of a buyer’s agent as your property wing person – they’re by your side as you search for your perfect fit. Consider engaging with an agent from the beginning of your buying journey.
- Provide their knowledge about the local property market
- Guide you through the types of buying options (e.g. auction, private treaty)
- Provide a personalised list of homes that might interest you
- Arrange and accompany you to property inspections and viewings
- If an inspection reveals a problem, they’ll liaise with the seller on your behalf
- Be your sounding board at auctions (to ensure you don’t get caught up in the excitement and make a bad decision)
- Negotiate a price on your behalf once you land on a property you’re keen on
A conveyancer is a licensed professional who’s there to help you with the formal stuff. They’ll give you advice around the sale of a property and navigate the legal documentation and settlement process.
Some states in Australia allow you to have your paperwork done by a licensed conveyancer, as opposed to a solicitor. You’ll want to engage with one well before you sign a contract or start negotiating the purchase of the property.
- Prepare, review and lodge all required legal documents, e.g. contract of sale, memorandum of transfer
- Deal with any issues related to a property inspection
- Review the contract of sale for any hidden watch-outs
- Review the vendor’s statement and inform you of any concerns
- Conduct a title and certificates search on the property to ensure everything is correct and in order
- Arrange settlement with all parties
Pro tip: A good buyer’s agent will have in-depth local market knowledge and be able to tell you things about the neighbourhood such as average prices for the area, public transport access, demographics and planning regulations.
A solicitor plays a similar role to the conveyancer, in that they’ll help you navigate your rights and the legal formalities of the sale. Expect a solicitor to cover much of the same ground – prepare and lodge all legal documents for the purchase, review the contract of sale, etc.
Most states and territories in Australia let you choose either a conveyancer or a solicitor to do this work. However, in QLD and ACT you must use a solicitor. As with a conveyancer, you’ll want to have a solicitor ready to go upfront.
- Conveyancers will generally be cheaper than solicitors, and are equipped to guide you through straightforward purchases
- While a conveyancer’s expertise is in conveyancing, a solicitor has broader knowledge of the law, and could advise on issues that fall outside of a regular conveyancing transaction, such as tax implications
- A solicitor is better equipped to handle more complex sales that contain more risk
You’ll need to factor the cost of engaging with these people into your overall budget – but they could play a crucial part in helping you nab your dream home or investment property.