What is a conveyancer?

What is a conveyancer?

With the exception of serial renovators, speculators and property investors, buying or selling real estate is something that happens only a few times in a lifetime. Completing a sale is a complex process which can be a minefield for the inexperienced or unwary.

The term for the legal processes required to transfer the ownership of land from one party to another is conveyancing.  To ensure that legal requirements are met and the transaction proceeds smoothly many people appoint a conveyancer to take care of their interests.

 

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer is an experienced professional whose role is to execute the transfer of land from one person to another. They carry out the necessary checks, protect their client’s interest throughout the process, and ensure all legal obligations are met.

In Western Australia a typical conveyancing transaction for purchasing a property is made up of three parts:

  • Entering into a contract for the sale of the property (through the signing of an Offer and Acceptance by the buyer and seller)
  • Financial settlement (exchange of money and documents)
  • Registration of the transfer and other documents onto the land registry maintained by Landgate.

 

Is there a difference between a conveyancer and a settlement agent?

The short answer is no, but there are rules.

In Western Australia, an individual or business undertaking property settlements must be licensed as a Settlement Agent and hold a triennial certificate issued under the Settlement Agents Act 1981.  They are bound by the Settlement Agents’ Code of Conduct.

They must also have:

  • professional indemnity insurance;
  • maintain an annually audited trust account; and
  • participate in the Compulsory Professional Development program.

A person who provides settlement services is known as a conveyancer.

 

What is a licensed conveyancer?

A  licensed conveyancer is a qualified professional who holds a settlement agent’s license and a triennial certificate.  Some choose to operate their own business but many work for settlement agencies, where they provide advice and information about the sale of a property, prepare documentation and conduct the settlement process.

 

What is a senior conveyancer?

A senior conveyancer is an experienced professional with (usually) four to five years’ of industry experience employed in a settlement agency.  They manage their own client portfolio autonomously, handling the settlement process from start to finish.

 

What to expect from a conveyancer conducting your settlement

In the course of their duties, a conveyancer will carry out:

  • Land registry searches;
  • searches of government departments and local authorities;
  • perusal of the contract and advice on potential issues;
  • preparation and certification of legal documents;
  • stamping of required documents;
  • confirmation that inspections or special conditions in the contract are finalised prior to settlement;
  • calculation of adjustments of rates and taxes;
  • preparation of settlement statements;
  • liaison with mortgagors and financiers; and
  • attendance at settlement.

 

Differences between WA and other States

In Australia, there are no universal rules for buying and selling a property.  In Western Australia, most sales start with a standard REIWA Offer and Acceptance document.

This document is usually completed by the real estate agent on behalf of the buyer. Once the offer is accepted by the seller, it becomes the contract.

In other Australian jurisdictions real estate sales are completed by an exchange of contracts and these documents are often prepared by lawyers.

Because most sales in WA use the standard REIWA Offer and Acceptance document, there’s no need for lawyers to be involved in the preparation of the contract.

 

What else can a Conveyancer help me with?

Primarily the work a licensed Conveyancer undertakes is related to guiding their clients through the sale or purchase of residential or commercial property.

They can also assist with things like:

Related party transfers

When purchasing, selling, or giving a property to a related party (such as a family member), you may wish to consider a related party transfer rather than a regular settlement.

Related party transfers are a simplified and cheaper way to transfer a property and can also be used to remove a related party from the certificate of title.

Private sales

Buying or selling a property without using a real estate agent (a private sale) requires a Contract for the Sale of Land or Strata Title by Offer and Acceptance.

To protect their interests, many private buyers and sellers elect to have a conveyancer assist them with creating the Offer and Acceptance.

Transmission applications

In the event that a sole owner or tenant in common passes away, a conveyancer can facilitate a Transmission Application (sometimes referred to as an Application by Personal Representative). This transfers the deceased’s share of the property to the administrator or executor.

Survivorship applications

In circumstances where a joint tenant has passed away, a conveyancer can prepare and lodge a Survivorship Application to transfer the deceased’s share of a property to the remaining joint tenant(s).

Separation transfers

Divorce or separation proceedings can result in a court order dictating how the couple’s property should be divided. In this situation, a separation transfer can be undertaken to transfer the property into the appropriate names. Separation transfers can occur with the agreement of both parties without the need for a court order but consent orders are required to reduce stamp duty liabilities.

Change of title

If you have recently married or changed your name by deed poll your bank or lending institution may require you to update the names shown on your certificate of title.  A conveyancer can prepare a change of name application and lodge it with Landgate on your behalf.

Sub-division

If you’re planning to subdivide a property a conveyancer can assist with the preparation and lodgement of an application for new titles with Landgate.

Marriage or De facto transfer

Adding your spouse or de facto partner as an owner of your property is a simple process with the help of a conveyancer.

Facilitating a marriage/de facto transfer can often be carried out without incurring stamp duty providing the property is your primary residence and your spouse or de facto partner will become a joint tenant or tenant in common with equal shares.

 

When you need the best advice

For most people, buying or selling land or real estate is the single biggest transaction they will ever make.  Getting professional advice at the outset provides peace of mind and makes sound economic sense.

If you need help from a professional conveyancer please call us on 08-9459 0044.