Buying a home or business is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so trusting a professional to take care of your investment is a huge deal. Before you employ a property conveyancer, it helps to make a few enquiries about their experience, projects worked on and servicing costs, including any hidden fees. Choosing the wrong conveyancer can be costly, so asking the right questions at the start will help you engage with a professional who is looking after your best interests.
Here are six questions to ask your conveyancer before signing any contract:
1. What are your qualifications and how long have you been a property conveyancer?
There is a vast difference between a conveyancer with skills and years of experience and a newly qualified conveyancer. Not all conveyancers are required to be licensed or hold qualifications. Some conveyancers are self-employed or work in small businesses, while others work in bigger companies and solicitors' offices. Some offer a wider range of services than others, and they all have their fees and their business practices.
2. How much do your conveyancing services cost?
The cost of conveyancing services plays a pivotal role in your decision-making process. You will need to be able to budget, so don’t be afraid to ask this question up-front.
Your conveyancer’s quote may include their professional fees, search fees, and other disbursements fees like registration fees and stamp duty charges. Aside from asking for the breakdown of costs, make sure you know which services are out of scope, as they may incur extra fees. We all know legal advice doesn’t come cheap, but buyers and sellers can avoid unexpected and excessive costs by choosing a conveyancer that offers a comprehensive service for a flat fee. It is for this reason that flat fee conveyancing is not a very good idea.
3. Are there any additional costs involved with conveyancing?
There are many costs and expenses involved in any real estate transaction. It is important that you are aware of all these issues so that you can budget for them. It can be disastrous if you do not prepare for all possible expenditure.
Expenses arise in various areas of the transaction. Some may not be obvious or may be unexpected. Some of the costs you can expect in buying a property are listed below:
- Fees payable for obtaining any loan (mortgage)
- Stamp duty
- Registration fees (paid to the Lands Titles Office)
- Search costs
- Rates and taxes for the period that you will own the property,
Similarly, here are some of the expenses you can expect in selling a property:
- Loan repayments
- Fees payable to discharge any loan (mortgage)
- Sales commission and advertising costs payable to your agent
- Search costs
- Rates and taxes for the period that you will own the property.
Always ask your conveyancer for details of anything which may arise in your particular transaction.
4. Do you have insurance protection?
Professional indemnity insurance protects against claims that may arise from negligence in your conveyancer’s performance of his or her professional duties. No matter how meticulous you are in choosing your conveyancer, you cannot discount the risk that something might go wrong in your conveyancing process due to your conveyancer’s negligence.
Having insurance covers you in such cases. An honest and reliable conveyancer will have insurance protection.
5. Is it in the contract?
Make sure you know what you are buying or selling, which means discussing your expectations with your conveyancer and clarifying what has been included or omitted from the contract of sale. Don’t just assume that everything that you have viewed in the property will remain following settlement. For example, you might have considered a property with a television fixed to the wall. While the bracket is on the wall, the television is not, so you do not get to keep the TV.
When buying off-the-plan, make sure you double check the schedule of fixtures and finishes in your contract. Remember, artist’s impressions, and marketing material of your yet-to-be-built property is just for show.
6. Do you take on jobs that may be a conflict of interest for other parties?
While it is legal for the seller and buyer to use the same conveyancer, most practitioners do not recommend this. A conveyancer acting for both buyer and seller must cease to work if a conflict of interest arises (for example, if both parties cannot receive the same advice). Conflicts can arise over all sorts of issues such as a delayed settlement. It is impossible to predict when this may happen. Significant delays often occur if the conveyancer must cease to act in a transaction. Ask yourself if you're comfortable using the same person as the other party, or if you would feel better working with an independent conveyancer.
Transparent and honest conveyancing in Melbourne
Don’t be afraid to ask your property conveyancer all the important questions – after all, it’s your investment and money on the line. If you have any reservations about your conveyancer’s answers, it’s usually a good indication to continue searching for another professional – it is times like these where you should trust your instincts.
At Rose Lawyers, we aim to be transparent in everything that we do, so you can feel at ease knowing you’re in capable hands. Our staff engage in regular professional development programs to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date, and they all offer professional service and expert advice with the assistance of our lawyers.
If you would like more information about our conveyancing services in Melbourne, call Rose Lawyers on 03 9878 5222 for a free 15 minute no-obligation phone consultation.