For successful home acquisition or sales in Australia, you need reliable representation to help you get over the line. A solicitor or conveyancer is often tasked with that representation, both of whom are fully insured and licensed. They both engage in the process of conveyancing, where the ownership of land is shifted from one person to the next. Good solicitors and conveyancers will keep you updated at every juncture on the status of the transaction.
Considering they have some similarities, many would-be property owners are led to believe that using either is fine when trying to close a deal. However, conveyancers and solicitors each offer varying degrees of help and should only be brought in for specific needs.
Here’s a deeper look at the job descriptions of a conveyancer and solicitor, as well as how they’re relevant to what you’re trying to achieve during a transaction.
Should I use a solicitor or conveyancer?
The short answer is that it depends on the situation — it’s as simple as that.
Before determining whether a solicitor or conveyancer is best, get the similarities out of the way first. Both will handle contracts and give legal advice on how to proceed with your acquisition or sale. Both will deal with local registries and councils. And, both will ensure that money is successfully transferred for the property.
What separates them, then?
Are a solicitor and conveyancer the same thing? No. One major difference when considering a conveyancer vs. a solicitor is cost. Solicitors are typically more expensive than conveyancers because they are qualified lawyers. They offer a wide range of services and have a deeper knowledge of property laws across Australia.
Using a solicitor is advised if more complexities are surrounding the housing transaction in question. Additionally, if the home has a high value, there may be more risk involved in the transaction; therefore, it helps to hire a solicitor because of their extensive legal knowledge, which ensures everything is handled safely. They can handle complexities like off-the-plan purchases or if a registered plan of subdivision is needed.
By contrast, if the home you’re selling has lower value and you’re working with a tighter budget, then a conveyancer would be a better fit for you. They are ideal for straightforward deals. Plus, online conveyancing is commonplace and safe, using the same methods that traditional conveyancing uses, only digitally. Many online conveyancing websites will provide you with instant home conveyancing quotes to help you get the process going.
The difference between a conveyancer and solicitor
There are quite a few notable differences between conveyancer and solicitor to take into account when doing business with either. As mentioned, the cost is a major factor. But other factors that outline the difference between a conveyancer and solicitor include:
1. Knowledge of the law
Solicitors usually charge more because they have extensive knowledge about property laws and know what depths you can go to during a transaction. You’ll find that solicitors dealing with property can advise you on things that go beyond regular conveyancing like tax implications (eg., capital gains tax), referring you to accountants along the way as well.
The role of a conveyancer, meanwhile, isn’t as extensive. Licensed conveyancers will prepare, look over and submit all necessary documentation, deal with property inspection issues and lead title/certificate searches, among other responsibilities. However, they only can provide you with extensive conveyancing advice and can’t handle tax implications or other complexities, partly because they spend considerably less time studying fundamental property law as compared to conveyance solicitors.
2. Ease of transaction
Do you need a solicitor to buy a house? Knowing that a solicitor holds an original certificate of title, preventing you from having to transfer the title to a conveyancer first, a solicitor comes in handy as you spend less time on documentation and more on trying to get the deal done. Solicitors are used to handling sensitive documents and have things like safes where they can keep the original certificate of title in a secure place.
Conveyancers, by contrast, aren’t required to keep those sensitive documents on the premises. So there’s more risk of potentially losing that information.
3. Handling disputes
In one instance, if your transaction is happening during a divorce, a solicitor can help you deal with marital issues while also taking care of conveyancing duties. Furthermore, solicitors dealing with a property can help you handle any other problems that come up during a potential sale, such as matters involving the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or any court action.
When selling a house, you can use a solicitor or conveyancer. But solicitors, through their full-fledged legal status, have more leeway to help you with matters that require quite a bit of negotiation and wrangling to get through.
Is a solicitor more expensive than a conveyancer?
Because solicitors can handle responsibilities that go beyond conveyancing and have more legal leeway, solicitor fees tend to be more expensive than conveyancer fees.
Average conveyancing fees in Australia range from $500 to $1,400 depending on the particular issues regarding your sale. For solicitors, you may have to pay considerably more money when factoring in the complexity of the transaction in question. Conveyancing solicitors costs will vary depending on several factors including:
- Level of expertise
- Solicitor’s location
Conveyancing fees in Queensland usually top out at $1,300, while conveyancing fees in New South Wales have reached as high as $3,000. Conveyancers usually have fixed fees for their services (though they are negotiable in many cases) compared to solicitors, who usually charge per hour. On our website, you can more accurately calculate the cost of property transfer services depending on whether you are a seller, a buyer, whether you are buying an off-the-plan home, and where the property is located.
What does a conveyancer do in Queensland?
Though there are understandably different intricacies regarding the conveyancing process in every Australian state, and these intricacies range from regulations to fees to time requirements and jargon, among other things.
Whether it’s conveyancing in Brisbane, conveyancing in the Gold Coast, conveyancing in the Sunshine Coast or conveyancing in Ipswich, the process across Queensland involves the same legal procedures. When learning how to become a conveyancer in Queensland, take into account that it’s illegal for a licensed conveyancer to own conveyancing companies in Queensland.
All paid work has to be conducted by a law firm, and there must be compliance with the Legal Profession Act, co-administered by the Legal Services Commission and Queensland Law Society. Licensed conveyancers can work at the aforementioned conveyancing companies. But, they must be overseen at these companies by solicitors.
Conveyancing fees in Queensland range from $500 to $1300, with possible additional charges for disbursement fees, which include title and water rate searches, among other duties. The conveyancer will handle the signed copy of the seller’s or buyer’s contract during negotiations. The conveyancer will also look at ensuring that the house is insured and will inform the buyer/seller that the sale has been completed. They will prepare the notice of sale and notify all government departments of the sale. Then, they calculate settlement figures to finalise the agreement.
What does a conveyancer do in New South Wales?
Conveyancing in NSW works a bit differently. While they undertake many of the same duties as conveyancers in Queensland, conveyancing in Sydney or any other area in New South Wales holds more weight. A licensed conveyancer in New South Wales is equally qualified as a solicitor to take on legal work involved during conveyancing transactions. Solicitors will have specialist knowledge and a greater ability to handle more complex legal matters. However, conveyancers will have a greater working knowledge of state regulations.
Also, unlike in Queensland, licensed conveyancers can run their own businesses in NSW. Licensed conveyancers involved in NSW property conveyancing can work in legal offices.
Conveyancing fees in NSW are considerably more expensive, ranging from $1,200 to $3,000. These fees include:
- GST chargers
- Professional fees
Property conveyancing in Sydney and across New South Wales involves ensuring all legal documents comply with territorial/state requirements, carrying out all necessary searches, and ensuring that all necessary adjustments are made when the settlement occurs. Conveyancers also review the contract of sale preparation and sale review contract to look out for any potential errors.
Depending on the needs you have, a solicitor or conveyancer is ideally qualified to handle your transaction and ensure your purchase or sale goes through all legal checkmarks. Get in touch with us today for all your conveyancing needs or rquest your precise quote in just a few minutes.