Do I need a conveyancer or solicitor?

Do I need a conveyancer or solicitor?

August 22, 2016 | by DiJones

When you are buying property, you need to choose whether to use a conveyancer or solicitor to help you with the purchase. Here are some tips to help you choose.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property from one person to another. So you need a conveyancer when you are buying or selling property.

Either a solicitor or a conveyancer can assist you with conveyancing. It usually involves arranging and advising on property inspections (pest and building), title searches, contract preparation and exchange, and settlement.

The advice given during a conveyance of a property typically includes:

  • Inclusions – what is and isn’t included in the sale of the property;

  • Particulars relating to the property, such as boundaries and easements you should know about;

  • Any potential concerns with a property, for example, arising from a strata inspection report, or a pest or building inspection, and whether these concerns or risks can be addressed in the contract for sale; and

  • The amounts of money you’ll need to pay at settlement for things like stamp duty, council rates, legal fees, etc.

Solicitor or conveyancer – the similarities

The two are very similar, for example:

  • Professional regulation – In NSW, conveyancers must hold a conveyancer’s licence issued by NSW Fair Trading, unless they are a solicitor. A solicitor must hold a practising certificate issued by the Law Society of NSW. The two professions are regulated by legislation and by professional bodies with codes of conduct.

  • Insurance – Both solicitors and licensed conveyancers are required to hold professional indemnity insurance, which is designed to protect consumers in the event that something goes wrong.

  • Fixed fee – Both will usually offer fixed fee conveyancing, although typically (but not always) the prices offered by conveyancers are slightly less than for solicitors.


Solicitor or conveyancer – the differences

Most solicitors who do conveyancing usually also practice other areas of law.

Conveyancers are only permitted to practice conveyancing and cannot practice other areas of law. If a property transaction becomes litigious or falls outside the scope of conveyancing, they must refer the matter to a solicitor for assistance, pursuant to the Conveyancers Licensing Act 2003 (NSW). Other States have similar provisions.

If a sale is likely to be complex, or if advice is needed on other related areas of law, like family or tax law, then you will probably want to use a solicitor. Otherwise, you risk incurring duplicate fees by first using a conveyancer and then needing to use a solicitor in relation to the same sale.

Need to know more? Come and speak with us and we can help you locate suitable solicitors or conveyancers.