How do agents, solicitors and conveyancers help when 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. If you can afford it, consider talking with an agent from the beginning of your buying journey.
Their role is to help you throughout the property hunt and purchase phase. Some of the services an agent can perform for you include:
- Providing knowledge on the local property market
- Guiding you through the different types of buying options, which can include auctions and private treaties
- Giving you a personalised list of homes that might interest you
- Arranging and accompanying you to property inspections and viewings
- Liaising with sellers on your behalf if any problems arise during inspections
- Being your sounding board at auctions (it helps to have someone there to ensure you don’t get caught up in the excitement and make a bad decision)
- Negotiating a price on your behalf once you land on a property you’re keen on.
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 conveyancer is a licensed professional qualified to handle the transfer of real estate from one person to another. They’ll give you advice around the purchase 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.
Your conveyancer will do all the heavy lifting for settlement including:
- Preparing, reviewing and lodging all required legal documents such as the contract of sale and memorandum of transfer
- Dealing with any issues related to a property inspection
- Reading the contract of sale for any hidden clauses
- Conducting a title and certificates search on the property to ensure everything is correct and in order
- Arranging settlement with all parties.
A solicitor has completed a law degree and holds a practising certificate. They have specialised knowledge required to provide legal advice about the transfer of property. A solicitor will cover much of the same ground as a conveyancer, like the preparation and lodgement of all legal documents for the purchase as well as review of the contract of sale.
Most states and territories in Australia let you choose either a conveyancer or a solicitor to do this work. However, if you’re in QLD and ACT you must use a solicitor. Like with a conveyancer, you’ll want to have a solicitor ready to go upfront.
If you have a choice, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Conveyancers may 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 these services into your overall budget – but they could play a crucial part in helping you nab that dream home or investment property.