your conveyancing 101

by Domonic Nyugen, May 23, 2017



Wherever you are in the world, conveyancing refers to the process of transferring the title of a property from one person to another. Ownership of property means you hold a physical object, but when it comes to real property (land or buildings) you also need to have a title which proves that you are the legal owner of that property. In New South Wales, the certificate of title must be registered at the Land and Property Information, which is the land registry for the area, in order for the full transfer of ownership to completed.


What Are the Components of Conveyancing Services?

The entire process of conveyancing can be broken down into three stages.

  1. Before the exchange of contracts
  2. After the exchange of contracts, before settlement
  3. After settlement

Before the Exchange of Contracts

For both the seller and the buyer, it’s important to review the contract for sale with a licenced conveyancing solicitor before signing. A conveyance solicitor provides clients with advice on the contract and negotiates the terms with the other party on the client’s behalf. The best conveyance solicitors will always work hard to make sure the terms are to your best interests.

The solicitor or conveyancer will perform research on the property to discover information about all aspects of the property, including identifying zoning, taxes, easements and covenants. If conveyancing solicitors can sometimes seem slow, it’s likely due to their conducting meticulous research to protect your interests.

The lawyer will help to make sure that everything goes smoothly during the exchange of contract. During the exchange, you will sign the contract and that will be swapped for the contract signed by the other party. The deposit is paid at the exchange.

After the Exchange

The conveyancer of a buyer may arrange for pest and property inspection before the purchase settlement. They may also investigate whether the seller has a survey or council certificate to prove that the property is compliant with applicable regulations. One of the advantages of using a family lawyer who is experienced as a conveyancer is that they will also be able to provide additional services. If a mortgage is used to purchase the property, your lawyer can review the loan documents with you and make sure that everything is in order. They will also be able to let you know accurate calculations for stamp duty and taxes, as well as any adjustments including council rates, water rates and strata levies so that there are no surprises at settlement.

To sell property the conveyance solicitor’s legal work includes making sure that all the seller’s legal documents related to the property sale are in order and arranging for the discharge of mortgage with the mortgage lender.

The Settlement and Afterwards

On the day of the settlement, your lawyer will attend the settlement on your behalf and exchange documents and cheques with the seller’s representatives. If you have taken out a mortgage on the property, your bank’s representatives will also be present. Once settlement is complete, your lawyer will register the transfer document at the Land and Property Information and the title of the property will be transferred into your name.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take and When Should I Get Started?

From the time of exchange of contract, it generally takes 4-6 weeks before the settlement is completed. However, it’s a good idea to engage the services of a conveyancer prior to contract, as that way they can advise you on the terms of the contract before you have signed.

How Much Does Conveyancing Cost?

The fees that you have to pay your conveyancer or property lawyer depend on their level of involvement. Besides their professional fee, you most likely need to pay other fees including:

  • Photocopying fee
  • Fee for pest and building reports
  • Property insurance
  • Mortgage registration fee
  • Stamp duty and taxes
  • Search fees
  • Council and water levies.

How Do I Determine Who Is the Best Person to go to for Conveyance Services?

Before you decide to hire a conveyancing and property lawyer, you should ask questions to make sure that the person is dependable. Questions you should ask include:

  • Is the lawyer familiar with the type of property you’re buying?
  • Are there any online reviews about the lawyer or conveyancer?
  • How much will you be charged?
  • When do you pay the conveyance fee?

Although you may be tempted to go with the lowest price for a conveyancing, it is worthwhile to consider what sort of service you may be getting for that price. Whether you are buying or selling, you need to ask yourself whether it’s worth the risk of causing the sale to collapse to save a few extra dollars?