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Legal Legwork

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With your finances under control, it's time to find a suitable party to perform the eventual transfer of property from one person to another, through the process of conveyancing. Once you've found the property you want to purchase, the agent looking after the sale (or the vendor themselves) will provide you with a contract of sale. It's important that this document be looked at carefully to ensure that everything about the property is understood and that there will be no legal surprises after you have purchased it. Signing a contract without having an experienced person look at it first is madness - and if you want to make any changes to the contract, now is the time to speak up. While typically performed by solicitors or professional conveyancers, you can also conduct your own conveyancing, although you need to be aware of the risks involved. The most obvious consideration when determining how to choose the method of conveyancing is the cost. While most solicitors and conveyancers offer a fixed price, you need to determine exactly what is included in the price, and what isn't. Some people simply want the appropriate forms completed and lodged, while others require a more comprehensive service, such as assisting in negotiations for a private sale. With additional services come additional fees and it pays to know what these are likely to be. One of the key benefits of using a solicitor or conveyancer is the peace of mind that they provide. Both should have sufficient indemnity insurance to cover them if something goes wrong with the transfer. Another benefit of using a professional is that they provide this service on a regular basis. Experience is an added bonus, and you should ensure that if junior clerk is assisting with your conveyance, the person who signs off on the process knows what they are doing. Draw as much advice from these people as you can. They are on your side and you are paying them. Don't sign any contract without having the professionals look at all the paperwork first. Ask about "cooling off periods", gazumping and any other matters you don't understand. If there are any special conditions you want to negotiate into the contract, speak up now. Some people prefer to complete their own conveyancing. A number of do-it-yourself kits exist for this very purpose. However, this involves a bit of running around to assemble all the relevant documents and you must keep your wits about you. The main reason for performing your own conveyance is to save money, but there are a number of important issues that should be considered first. These issues can arise regardless of the method of conveyancing you choose, but can be time consuming and difficult to resolve without professional help. The most common are:
  • Caveats and covenants attached to the property,
  • legal extensions which have not been approved by local council,
  • Actual property size differing from the measurements on the title, and
  • Finding the property is damaged (or missing) when you conduct the final inspection.
One option you might consider is Lawyersearch.com, an online legal services procurement site dedicated to matching clients with local specialist lawyers. Lawyerseach.com is a unique service, matching clients to solicitors based on the clients' needs, the solicitor's skills, geographic proximity to the client and the clients' budget.

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