Buying property can be one of the most exciting and scary propositions of your life. By the time you read this article you will have spent countless hours trawling the internet for advice, spoken to numerous friends and family and scrimped and saved for the deposit. And now comes the more formal part of this process – the purchase and legal transfer of your house.
In order to make sure that the purchase of your property goes as smoothly as possible, it is essential to engage the services of a law firm that specialises in conveyancing. In this article we will give you a rough idea of what’s involved in the conveyancing process as well as what you can expect to pay for conveyancing.
How much does conveyancing cost?
Unfortunately there is no fixed figure here or industry standard. If you ring around law firms and ask this question, you will receive varied responses. The results will range from as little as $800 to as much as $3,000 or even higher.
A lot of people will go with the cheapest quote on the basis that ‘a conveyance is only a simple matter,’ ‘how hard can it be to get it wrong’ and ‘they will all be doing the same amount of work, won’t they?’.
In my experience choosing a conveyancer purely based on price is a bad choice. Dont forget that you are laying out hundreds of thousands of dollars for this deal, and that this deal hinges on a successful transaction of the property from buyer to seller – so the true cost of quality conveyancing is priceless.
Don’t go with the cheapest option
Those that do go with the cheaper quotes will often have made a bad choice. Firms that charge as little as $800 for conveyancing are generally:
- Not fully disclosing all of the professional fees that will be charged in the matter (such as fees for considering and advising on building and pest inspections or on finance);
- Charging additional fees for matters such as extensions of any of the dates set under the Contract for example the finance date, the building and pest inspection dates or the settlement date; and/or
- Allocating too many files to their conveyancers meaning that the conveyancers do not have sufficient time to run the files properly. This leads to mistakes, matters are done at the last minute and therefore cause delays and the client will never have their telephone calls returned, or emails and letters responded to.
What Does a Quality Conveyancer Do?
In short, a good-quality conveyancer will:
- Prepare, clarify and lodge legal documents – e.g. contract of sale, memorandum of transfer
- Research the property and its certificate of title – check for easements, type of title and any other information that needs addressing
- Put the deposit money in a trust account
- Calculate the adjustment of rates and taxes
- Settle the property – act on your behalf, advise you when the property is settled, contact your bank or financial institution when final payments are to be made
- Represent your interest with a vendor or their agent
Local Government Department searches are key in the conveyancing process because they determine the future planned development for your area. They ensure that you are aware of any major changes like new freeways, major road upgrades or railway lines that are planned for your property’s backyard. You can then decide whether you wish to proceed with the purchase.
Other searches including Title searches and Local Government searches for rates and zoning will determine whether the property has any restrictions such as adverse planning, demolition orders, outstanding rates or taxes, or encumbrances on the title (for example, easements or caveats).
Most of these searches are standard in the conveyancing process but are often overlooked when buyers elect to do the conveyancing themselves.
How Much Should I Pay for Conveyancing?
I would suggest using a conveyancer who offers a fixed price for their services. This will help you to avoid receiving any surprises in your invoice at the end.
For the purchase of a freehold residential house I would suggest that a fair price for conveyancing would lie anywhere between $900 – $1500.
In addition to your conveyancer’s professional fee there are also search fees that will be incurred. Standard search fees are generally between $450 and $600, depending on how much the local Council search costs are in the area you are buying.
You can order additional, more specialised searches if you wish, for additional cost. Your conveyancer will be able to advise you of these before they are ordered.
Finally, in all conveyances there are Government charges including stamp duty and registration fees which are payable. Pumped on Property has a handy stamp duty calculator which can help determine the cost of stamp duty in your state.
This is part 1 of our 3 part series called “Everything You Need to Know About Conveyancing”. In next months series we will discuss how to find the best quality conveyancer for your money including 5 key questions to ask when choosing a conveyancer.
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.
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