After a lot of searching, you've finally found the perfect house. You spoke with the bank, and they gave you the thumbs up. Your offer was accepted, and soon the house will legally be yours. But the process of taking ownership of a new home is somewhat complicated. Conveyancing is the process of transferring legal ownership of the property from one party to another, and it's something you'll need professional help with. But why do you actually need a conveyancer, and how do you find one?

Conveyancing: A Brief Overview

Conveyancers are a vital part of the home-buying process, checking with local, state, and even federal authorities, as well as utility companies. They ensure that there are no liabilities on the property (money owed that might become your responsibility). They also draft and lodge the legal contracts that transfer ownership of the property into your name. Conveyancers essentially make sure that there are no nasty hidden surprises with the property, and that you get exactly what you paid for. They represent your interests, and not those of the property vendors or real estate agent.

Finding A Conveyancer

So now you know why you need a conveyancer, but how do you find one? There are qualified conveyancers who are not solicitors, but conveyancing solicitors have a clear advantage in this field. A conveyancer who is also a legal solicitor is able to handle all aspects of the process, and can address any legal bumps in the road (such as a property whose former owner deliberately hid damage in order to expedite sale). A conveyancer who is not also a solicitor will need to refer these more complex matters to a solicitor.

Questions To Ask A Potential Conveyancer (And Why You Need To Ask)

Once you've identified a potential conveyancer who you think will suit your purposes, there are a few questions you might want to ask them.

1. "Are you registered with the Australian Institute of Conveyancers?"

While not a legal requirement, registered members are more likely to be up to date with the latest developments in their industry, meaning you'll get the best possible service.

2. "Do you have indemnity insurance?"

If a conveyancer should answer no, then run in the opposite direction. A member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers is required to have comprehensive indemnity insurance to maintain their membership. Insurance is absolutely vital to ensure you're not left out of pocket in case the conveyancing process misses something that will affect you.

3. "Do you charge a fixed fee or an hourly rate, and how much will it cost?"

Generally speaking, you'll pay less if your conveyancer charges a fixed fee. Regardless of whether you end up paying a fixed fee or an hourly rate, be sure to ask about any hidden extras. Certain database searches and advanced enquiries might incur an additional fee, depending on the individual conveyancer.

4. "How often will you send updates about the process?"

There's no set time-frame with conveyancing, and it really varies from property to property. It's best to request regular updates from the conveyancer, as this allows you to know exactly what's being done on your behalf. This also allows the conveyancer to make an educated guess as to how much more time is required to complete each stage of the process. You might want to request an update via email once or twice a week, allowing you to retain a written copy of all relevant information.

There's no need to worry about the conveyancing process, and it sounds more troublesome than it generally is. Having said that, a good conveyancing solicitor is absolutely vital for making sure that your new home is truly yours as soon as possible! For more information, contact a firm like Anthonys Solicitors.