5 things homeowners should know about conveyancing

family signing conveyancing paperwork with a conveyancer

Nina Hendy

Posted September 20, 2021

Purchasing property is an exciting time. But before you can get the keys to the front door, you’ll need to handle the paperwork.  

The settlement process is a complex task that involves various financial and administrative duties,  usually handled by a conveyancer.  

You’ll want to make sure you’ve got a conveyancer on your side, because the paperwork involved can be cumbersome, complicated and overwhelming.

What is conveyancing? 

Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of a legal title of the land to the new owner, whether it be a person or other legal entity, explains Ken Fung, solicitor for Conveyancing.com.au

When you're selling a property, you are obliged to disclose certain information to the potential buyers in a Section 32 Statement (or "Vendor Statement").

Your conveyancer or solicitor can help you gather the relevant documents to make sure you've ticked all your boxes. "Contracts of sale aren't particularly straightforward. Legal jargons can be difficult to decipher, with unfamiliar expressions and technical terms that you need to understand," Fung says.

What does a conveyancer do? 

A conveyancer is responsible for ensuring the title to the property is transferred from seller to purchaser, advising on any legal issues along the way. This means you can focus on the task of moving, explains Fung.

“A conveyancer can undertake all relevant conveyancing and legal work on your behalf, provide timely legal advice regarding the transfer of title, and monitor the whole conveyancing process through to settlement,” Fung says. 

“Buying properties can be a minefield. Legal terms in the contract can be hard to understand. Adjustment calculations for the outgoings can be quite complex. The laws regarding stamp duty and taxes are constantly changing,” Fung says.  

The principle of ‘buyers beware’ exerts even more pressure on buyers to do their homework beyond just a physical inspection of the property. There can be many potential traps to avoid and hurdles to overcome, he adds.   

“Without someone who has full knowledge of the industry to guide you through the process, it can be extremely stressful when you encounter obstacles or issues along the way.” 

woman typing at computer

A conveyancer will help with all the paperwork in transferring home ownership. Image: Getty. 


What do they handle? 

Your conveyancer will handle all the paperwork to do with transfer of ownership for your property, even if you're buying a property with someone else (known as buying as "joint tenants" or "tenants in common"), or if you are purchasing property with a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund. 

If you're buying, a conveyancer will:

  • Review, prepare and lodge all the legal documents, such as the contract of sale and the Transfer of Land instrument
  • Research property titles; check for any third-party rights to enter or use the land, such as easements
  • Help you understand exactly what you're purchasing
  • Hold funds on your behalf in their trust account and disburse trust funds according to your instructions
  • Deal with the vendor and estate agent on your behalf
  • Deal with your bank or financial institution and coordinate payments at settlement

 For the seller, a conveyancer will:

  • Prepare and lodge all the legal documents
  • Coordinate discharge of mortgage with your bank or financial institution
  • Organise for the release of deposit to you
  • Secure title documents from you to effect transfer of it to your buyer
  • Handle extension requests and other similar communications

How do you find a conveyancer?

Engaging the services of a lawyer or a licensed conveyancer who specialises in this area can save you a lot of time and trouble along the way. Fung says that fees can differ depending on the complexity of the matter, so make sure you ask about fees before engaging a conveyancer. 

“The fee for an ordinary conveyancing matter which doesn’t require a higher level of skills and additional work will usually vary between $1,000 and $2,000.  

“There can also be other costs involved, such as the cost of obtaining property and rates certificates to complete the buyer’s due diligence and to prepare the Statement of Adjustments of Outgoings,” he explains.  

Will they be there on settlement day? 

Yes. Your conveyancer will hold your hand right up until the keys to the property have been delivered to your hand. They’ve done this many, many times before, so you can rest easy and trust in the process. 

The conveyancer will coordinate a settlement time with the vendor and the buyer and ensure that the transaction goes ahead without any hiccups.  

Your conveyancer will also handle financial adjustments, such as clawing back council rates you may have paid in advance.  

They will also send you final documents confirming that the property is now registered in your name and notify your local council and water authority about the new ownership. If you’ve got questions in the weeks and months after settlement, the conveyancer is only a phone call away to handle it for you.  

*RACV has partnered with Conveyancing.com.au to help guide members through the property buying and selling journeys.