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DIY conveyancing - is it worth going it alone?

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Nila Sweeney
Property conveyancing is a simple task: it involves changing the name on the Certificate of Title from the seller to the buyer on the purchase of real estate. So why do lawyers charge so much for it?
 
Well, it involves a little more than just filing some paperwork.
 
The Certificate of Title refers to the land – or 'air space' for Strata titled properties – rather than the buildings, which are classified as 'improvements' on the land.
 
Before you transfer the Certificate of Title, you need to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the state and condition of any buildings. Therefore, the conveyancing process includes steps to make sure that the transaction is correct for both buyer and seller, and that any outstanding monies such as rates, taxes and levies are cleared at settlement.
 
This process involves several legal searches and checks, which will cost you (combined) a few hundred dollars. A solicitor will also charge you a fee of $500-$1,000 to perform these searches on your behalf.
 
If you’re looking for a ways to trim the expenses of buying or selling a property, then you may have found it! Doing your own conveyancing isn’t actually as complex as it sounds, provided you know what you’re doing.
 
For many years, www.diyconveyancingkits.com.au has been selling kits for buyers and sellers to manage the conveyancing process without using a lawyer.
 
For a small fee, you may also want to engage a “title searcher” to perform one major step of the conveyancing process for you. Title searchers know the conveyancing process back to front, but they are not lawyers.
 
“A title searcher could obtain a copy of a certificate of title, obtain the enquiry certificates (in some states) or attend settlement,” the website advises. “If you are busy, you can still do your own conveyancing using title searchers and pay less than $200 in total fees for their services, as well as the normal $150-$300 disbursements for fees and certificates.”
 
Whether you decide to use a title searcher or manage the entire process on your own, www.diyconveyancingkits.com.au offers the following advice to help you on your way:
 

When you communicate with the other party or their solicitor…

  • ALWAYS do it in writing. Fax or email is acceptable.
  • If you reach any conclusion by telephone, confirm this in writing.
  • In all correspondence, include their reference to the transaction, the name and address of the vendor and the purchaser (when applicable), and the name of the person in the solicitor/conveyancer's office who is handling your transaction.

Keep copies of all correspondence.

Record all actions, such as telephone calls or inspections, in a diary.

You can reasonably expect normal business courtesies from a solicitor/conveyancer and their staff. However, don't expect the other party's solicitor to help or advise you. You are not paying them to look after your interests, so they have no obligation to give you advice.

If you find the other party’s solicitor/conveyancer is being uncooperative or obstructive, discuss this directly with the other party. Advise the other party that it is causing delays and extra costs.

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