Whenever you’re buying a property, legal transfer of ownership will be one of the major tasks on your to-do list. It is undeniably the most exciting task too. Because successful execution means you finally own the new house! However, it is also very technical and sensitive, which is why having professional assistance is a must.
Now, there are two kinds of professionals who can help you with the paperwork — solicitors and conveyancers. In this post, we’ll explore the role of each in property buying, the differences between the two professionals, and which one you should use when buying property.
What is a solicitor?
A solicitor is basically a qualified lawyer. This person has studied law and earned a legal degree and license to offer legal advice.
Given that, a property solicitor represents you on a legal level and handles all legal property-buying matters for you. They handle the entire conveyancing process, where the property is transferred from the previous owner to you legally.
Here’s a list of tasks that a property solicitor may perform for you:
- Carry out legal searches and checks: This ensures that the property has no underlying or hidden disputes from the past. It also ensures that the property is safe, livable, and sellable in the future.
- Handle contracts: They do all the paperwork, ranging from stamp duty to paying land registry fee and ensuring nothing is faulty in the title.
- Give legal advice: They give legal advice regarding the long-term and short-term viability of the property, how to handle financial shortcomings, apply for loans, or legally handle any property-related disputes.
Silicitors also deal with the transfer of money concerning your new property. You can click here for more information on solicitors.
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is someone who can execute the process of ‘conveyancing’ for you. This means they can do the following:
- Prepare the contract of sale and memorandum
- Research the property’s certificate of title and the property itself
- Deposit money to the concerned party (they do not pay for you, they only represent you)
- Check for any easements and adjustments in taxes
- Request extended dates if need be
- Communicate with the vendor on your behalf
Note that conveyancers are not lawyers. They do not possess the academic qualifications that a lawyer does, but they may have a license to practice conveyancing. And sometimes conveyancers may not even have a license. But they have years of experience in the field, which makes them reliable for doing the job.
Given this, anyone can be a conveyancer (even you). However, it’s generally advisable to entrust individuals with years of conveyancing experience or a conveyancing license — that is if you opt for a conveyancer instead of a solicitor.
Solicitor vs conveyancer in property buying
Here’s a quick comparison between a solicitor’s and a conveyancer’s role in property buying and associated aspects that you must consider:
|Qualifications||Qualified solicitor/lawyer||Specialized in property law/conveyancing (but not a lawyer)|
|Scope of Work||Provides legal advice and representation in various legal matters related to property transactions||Focuses primarily on the conveyancing process|
|Legal Expertise||Handles complex legal issues, including legal matters beyond conveyancing (such as property disputes, lease agreements, planning permissions, and tax implications)||Specializes in property law and conveyancing only|
|Range of Services||Offers a wide range of legal services related to property buying, such as contract review, due diligence, and compliance||Primarily handles the administrative aspects of property transactions, such as title searches, preparing contracts, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements|
|Representational Authority||Represents clients in legal proceedings, negotiations, and dispute resolution if required||Does not have the authority to represent clients in legal proceedings or court-related matters|
|Cost||Higher fees charged on an hourly basis||Cost-effective services with fixed fee structures|
How to Choose Between a Solicitor and Conveyancer?
We recommend considering the following factors to determine whether you need to hire a solicitor or a conveyancer when buying property:
In some places, the law defines whether you should hire a solicitor or a conveyancer when buying a property. For example, as per the law of the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland, you must hire a solicitor to assist your property buying process. So as a first step, check the laws applicable in your local area and see if the law asks you to follow a certain path.
Complexity of the Transaction
A straightforward or simple transaction in property buying has the following attributes:
- Clear title: The property has an unambiguous title with no legal disputes in the past.
- Standard contractual terms: The transaction involves commonly used and widely accepted contractual terms. The buying or selling party hasn’t requested extensive negotiations or customizations.
- No additional legal matters: There are no disputes with neighboring properties or unique environmental concerns that require legal attention.
- Mortgage financing: You are acquiring a loan from a reputable lender, and there are no complexities in securing a loan.
If you’re able to check all these boxes, it’s a good idea to opt for a conveyancer. It will save you money since conveyancers charge less than solicitors. But if your transaction is complex, and include items other than the list above, it’s best to hire a solicitor.
Your Future Plans
“Additional legal matters” also include special permissions for building new outdoor structures like cabins or hoop houses. If you plan to upgrade the property you’re buying with new standalone outdoor structures, you should opt for a solicitor. They’ll guide you better regarding your rights and legal limitations.
Lastly, consider your budget. Conveyancers are generally cheaper than solicitors. But if you’ve got a few extra bucks and it doesn’t hurt your pocket, hire a solicitor. They’ll get the job done on concrete legal grounds, unlike conveyancers.