Welcome to Part 2 of our 3 part series called “Everything You Need to Know About Conveyancing”. Last month we discussed how much you can expect to pay for a conveyancer. This month we will be talking about how to choose the best conveyancer.
As I mentioned in last month’s article a lot can hinge on the conveyancing process, so it’s essential that you choose a good quality professional.
I would recommend using the same system for choosing a conveyancer that you would use on any other professional working on your property – choose somebody with a demonstrated track record and some glowing references.
The following are some questions that I have compiled from my experience and with help from Conveyancers and Solicitors with an intimate knowledge of the industry:
1. What are your fees and what do they involve?
This is an obvious but also very important question. Most conveyancers will charge a fixed-fee for their services on a standard property and also pass on the cost for additional search, settlement and other fees.
Tip: To get an idea on how much you can expect to pay for conveyancing, check out Part 1 of this series: How Much Does Conveyancing Cost?
It’s important to remember that although these additional costs are an essential part of the process, you want to choose a professional that can fully disclose what your total bill will be. I would be wary of anybody who gives you a total price but does not give you an accurate breakdown.
You’ll want to try to probe a little bit here to make sure you are getting accurate information regarding the fee structure and to avoid bill shock. I would suggest asking:
- What additional fees are charged and what are they for?
- What types of searches are needed and what do they cost?
- Do you have any Settlement fees?
- Are there any Fees for drawing cheques?
2. How long will the conveyance take?
The stock standard response here is something along the lines of ‘because of the number of parties and other variables involved in the conveyancing process, it is difficult to give a definite deadline’ and this can be true regarding one of the initial steps in the conveyance – negotiating and signing the contract. However a good quality conveyancer should be able to tell you:
- Their current workload; and
- Their usual turnaround time (with all things going to plan).
Timeframes can be affected by your bank and it is therefore important that you make sure that you are proactive with your loan application. It’s common for banks to not to look at your file until a couple of days before settlement. This can disrupt the entire process when they start asking for items that you might not have prepared (such as a certificate of currency for building insurance) right before settlement.
If you know there may already be issues with your conveyance, i.e. pool safety certificate, building and pest inspection, be up front about these – this leads into the next question:
3. What happens if something goes wrong?
Typically conveyancing is a simple and straightforward transaction, but there are some cases where the process can become drawn out. It is therefore also worth asking your conveyancer:
- Will there be additional fees if there is an issue with the building and pest inspection, pool safety certificate, etc; and
- How will this affect the settlement?
A good quality conveyancing team will have come across these issues before and should be able to provide you solid advice on how to either avoid these issues or what you should do should they arise. This also leads into the next question: When to call in a Solicitor.
4. Do you also have access to a solicitor should I need it?
A lot of people confuse the role of a solicitor and a conveyancer in the conveyancing process. Generally, a conveyancer is trained to handle straightforward property sales and purchases and is cheaper than a solicitor.
Having said that, when more complex legal issues arise it is essential that you are able to seek advice from an experienced property solicitor. A good quality conveyancing firm will have such solicitors on call for these cases. A good conveyancer will be able to recognise when it is time to refer to the solicitor.
5. How will you keep me up to date on my file?
Selling or buying a property is usually the biggest transaction that a person will make in their lifetime. Like any part of your property sale or purchase, the ability to keep up to date with the conveyancing process will help keep your mind at rest.
Ask your prospective conveyancer how they communicate progress on your job – do they provide weekly updates? Does your conveyancer have a policy on the time frame for returning phone calls? Also let them know how you prefer to be contacted, there is no benefit to the conveyancer sending you emails if you don’t often check them.
In next month’s series we will discuss what documents you need to have ready prior to starting the conveyancing process.
This article was written with help from Michael Clive of CBC Lawyers. Michael is the principal of CBC Lawyers which is a family owned, full-service law firm servicing all of North QLD. Michael has been practicing law for over 20 years and heads up the commercial and property team. Michael grew up in Home Hill, a small town in the sugar cane growing Burdekin district. He hasn’t lost that rural outlook and is easily able to put clients at ease with his relaxed, friendly manner.