What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring the legal title of real estate from one party to another, whether it be residential or rural property, a house, a farm, vacant land or a community title unit. As one of the largest financial transactions many of us will make in our lifetime, it makes sense to be guided by expert advice.
Conveyancing involves an intricate knowledge of property law and an understanding of all the processes involved from contract review through to completion. The complexity of such transactions can often be under-estimated and while most proceed without issue, there are some that do not.
Signing a contract to buy or sell property creates binding obligations between the parties – the penalties for default can be significant so it is important to understand the legal implications before entering such arrangements. The transfer of property may also trigger other considerations such as capital gains tax, land tax and transfer duty, which should be factored into the transaction.
The conveyancing process
The conveyancing process involves managing the legal and administrative requirements for a property transaction. It typically moves quickly providing no room for error.
Buyers should obtain good title to the property they are purchasing together with all the rights that run with the land. They should be aware of any restrictions or rights in advance of their purchase, ensure that any building or dwellings are compliant, and that the property may be used for its intended purpose.
A series of searches and investigations (known as ‘due diligence’) may be undertaken to discover any undisclosed interests affecting the property and to ensure you understand exactly what you are purchasing. In most cases, building and pest reports should be ordered from a qualified inspector to comment on the condition of any structures, identify any defects and flag potential issues.
Contract terms are also reviewed and conditions negotiated, if necessary. Your lawyer will protect your interests throughout the conveyancing process, liaising with the seller’s representative, the agent and your lender to coordinate settlement and transfer the legal title to your new property.
If you are selling, a compliant binding contract must be in place setting out the terms of the sale before marketing the property. The contract must include certain disclosure documents – purchasers may have termination rights if these are not provided. Every property is unique, so it is important that the contract is carefully prepared to ensure compliance and that your unique circumstances are considered in any special conditions.
What is e-conveyancing?
Traditionally, property settlements have involved the physical meeting of lawyers with financial institutions to check and swap documents and bank cheques, and the lodgement of documents with relevant government authorities to transfer the title and change ownership details of the property. An error as simple as a misspelt middle name could cause settlement to fail and all parties would need to reschedule. This would have serious repercussions. Not only would payout and settlement figures need to be recalculated and new cheques ordered, the buyer and seller, who would often be in the process of relocating and purchasing / selling other property, would be considerably inconvenienced.
E-conveyancing has revolutionised this process through an electronic platform which enables lawyers, conveyancers and financial institutions to transact online, improving transparency and efficiency and streamlining old manual processes and paperwork.
Online settlements remove the location and time barriers of physical settlements, visually track the progress of each stage of the transaction and facilitate online lodgement of documents with land registries and authorities and faster access to sales funds.
The online property exchange known as PEXA operates nationally to provide a standardised platform for the completion of online property transactions.
Whether you are buying, selling or investing in property, a conveyancing transaction may pose significant risk if not professionally handled. The penalties for failing to complete a binding contract can be significant and the financial repercussions of buying property with unknown defects, or not providing the required disclosures when selling can turn your transaction into an expensive and draining experience.
We aim to take as much pressure off you as possible during this time by keeping you informed, answering your questions and guiding you through this process.