Is DIY conveyancing worth it?

By Mark Rosanes

Buying or selling your property entails a myriad of legal and administrative tasks that require proper knowledge and sufficient attention to successfully complete – and conveyancing is among these procedures.

There are two ways to go about this task – you can either do it on your own or enlist the help of a licensed professional. Both options have their share of pros and cons, and your choice should boil down to whether you have the time and capability to deal with issues that may possibly arise.

How does the conveyancing process work?

Conveyancing is defined as the branch of law concerned with the preparation and processing of documents required in the purchase or sale of a property. The procedures vary depending on whether you are a buyer or a seller and typically include the following:

For buyers

  • Property and land title searches
  • Arranging purchase order financing and reviewing mortgage contract
  • Deposit payment
  • Reviewing and preparation of legal documents, including the contract of sale, vendor closure, and transfer certificate
  • Working out rate and tax adjustments, stamp duty, and other financial obligations
  • Completing final checks prior to settlement
  • Exchanging the signed contract of sale and attending settlement

For sellers

  • Completion of legal documents
  • Reviewing the contract of sale
  • Checking the property’s compliance with state and local laws
  • Arranging payments of deposit and stamp duty
  • Completing final checks prior to settlement
  • Exchanging the signed contract of sale and attending settlement

How much will conveyancing cost you?

Cost is often the biggest deciding factor on how one chooses to go about the conveyancing process.

If you opt to go the DIY route, you can purchase DIY conveyancing kits both online and offline. These are priced around $70 to less than $200 and typically include the following:

  • A step-by-step guide
  • Contract of sale
  • All relevant forms, including completed copies for your reference
  • List of government agencies involved in the transaction, including address and contact numbers
  • List of property searches, including an explanation for each search
  • Glossary of terms

Additionally, when purchasing a DIY conveyancing kit, you should always check if it is tailored for you as a buyer or seller, if it applies to the state or territory where the property is located, and if it has recently been updated since property and tax laws change regularly. The cost mentioned above also does not include fees for property searches and other disbursements that you may be required to pay.

Should you choose to hire a professional, you can enlist the help of a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. You can check out this article to learn more about the differences between the two.

One important thing to note is that Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory do not recognise conveyancing licenses, so your only option if you are buying or selling a property in these locations is to hire a conveyancing solicitor.

Here is a breakdown of the fees you need to pay if you choose to enlist the help of a conveyancing professional.

  • Conveyancer’s fee: $500 to $1,200
  • Title search: Up to $50 per search
  • Council searches and certificates: $100 to $1,000
  • Title registration and transfer: $50 to $200
  • Settlement fees: Up to $80
  • General clerical work: Up to $50

Is DIY conveyancing for you?

There are several important things you need to consider when deciding whether to conduct conveyancing on your own or allow a professional to handle the process for you. Here are some of them:

1. Money

If you feel confident about your conveyancing skills and find the transaction straightforward, then DIY conveyancing suits you. Handling the process on your own allows you to save on solicitor or conveyancer’s fee. However, based the pricing above, your savings will be limited to several hundred to a thousand dollars.

2. Time

While going the do-it-yourself route will save you money, it will take up a huge portion of your time. Doing title searches, reviewing contracts, and making sure documents are filled out correctly can eat up significant time that you can otherwise spend with your family or pursuing other goals. 

3. Industry knowledge

Conveyancing requires a certain level of skill and experience to successfully manage. Among the benefits of enlisting a solicitor or conveyancer to perform the transaction on your behalf is that these professionals are trained and possess the expertise to handle every situation smoothly, even when unexpected issues arise. They are also updated on the latest legislation changes and may give you advice on how to handle additional requests.

4. Protection

Conveyancing can be a complex transaction for someone who lack sufficient training and experience – and this can lead to costly errors. Handling the process yourself means you have no recourse to recoup losses once mistakes are committed. Professionals, on the other hand, carry indemnity insurance to protect you if something goes wrong.

5. Transparency

Another benefit of DIY conveyancing is that there is 100% visibility over the process. You will be able to handle and decide on every step of the transaction, including reading through all contracts, titles, and certificates.

The bottom line is your choice of handling conveyancing yourself or delegating it to a licensed professional should depend on the time you are willing to allot to complete the transaction and if you have sufficient industry knowledge to make sound decisions. While DIY conveyancing can save you some money, you also need to ask yourself if these savings are worth going through the process.

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