The differences between solicitors and conveyancers
Buying a home has many complex aspects that carry substantial liability and are best handled with the advice of a professional. Yet, selecting an adviser can provide its own challenges.
When purchasing you have an option to choose a solicitor or conveyancer who specialises in property law to complete your settlement.
Knowing where the responsibilities of a solicitor stop and a conveyancer starts can be confusing. At first glance, they appear to play the same role in providing a service known as conveyancing – a statutory process that enables ownership to be transferred.
It’s labour-intensive with documents such as the Certificate of Title needing to be prepared or sourced, verified and lodged with the state government to ensure a sale is binding.
Conveyancing also requires checking for any illegal buildings on a property and the correct positioning of physical boundaries.
A conveyancer might also provide advice on a contract of sale, prepare subsequent legal and settlement documents, and liaise with your lender. Other responsibilities can include placing your deposit money in a trust account, calculating stamp duty, and ensuring council and water services are switched so you and the previous owner pay the rightful charges.
Finally, conveyancing includes the actual exchange of contracts and settlement, and notifying the lender that final payments are being made.
A conveyancer is an expert in property law and the steps involved in settlement. In contrast, a solicitor has a wider professional remit, including legal advice on shared ownership or tax implications for rental properties.
Conveyancers are usually 25%-50% cheaper and primarily used for straightforward transactions. They have a reputation for being easier to contact as solicitors have other client or court commitments. If anything goes wrong in a conveyancing process, a solicitor is usually called in by a conveyancer.
Here are the key differences between a conveyancer and solicitor:
- A specialist in property law
- Two years study + two years supervision before qualification
- Flat-fee service, usually cheaper than a solicitor
- Necessary for legal issues beyond conveyancing including ownership structures.
- Often uses a law clerk or subcontracts to a licensed conveyancer
- Used by a conveyancer for legal complication
- May charge by the hour or offer a fixed-fee service
This article is provided for general information only and does not take into account the specific needs, objectives or circumstances of the reader. Before acting on any information, you should consider whether it is appropriate for your personal circumstances, carry out your own research and seek professional advice.