At JKA, we frequently take calls from potential clients who are confused about the conveyancing process. In conveyancing, the many different components that consist of a single transaction are interwoven with legal jargon, complex terms and pages of seemingly incomprehensible paperwork. That’s why we always say to our clients “in conveyancing, no question is too stupid!”
In reality, to a layperson the conveyancing process seems like a foreign language. And that’s OK- it’s your conveyancers’ job to take care of the paperwork and make sure everything gets done correctly and in a timely manner. While conveyancing may seem incredibly complex to you, the most difficult role you will have to play in the conveyancing transaction is choosing the right conveyancer.
This is easier said than done on a number of reasons. Below we’ve outlined some common mistakes people make when choosing a conveyancer and important things to consider.
Do I have to use the conveyancer referred to me by my real estate agent?
The short answer is no.
Legally speaking, you’re not obliged to hire a conveyancer to assist in your transaction at all. However, in most cases, DIY conveyancing is strongly advised against as very small mistakes can result in costly repercussions later on.
Clients are generally confused about this question when, as part of their real estate transactions, their agent will say something along the lines of;
“…and we have a conveyancer we use.”
“…we have an in-house conveyancer who can take care of that for you.”
This type of language creates confusion and leaves the client feeling like they have no choice. But it’s actually just clever wording to get you to hire their conveyancer. There are lots of reasons real estate agents or finance brokers do this. In most cases, it’s because they have established a mutually beneficial professional relationship with the conveyancer and the two will refer clients to one another. This doesn’t necessarily mean the conveyancer you have been referred to won’t do a good job. But it does mean that your agent likely has a vested interest in giving the conveyancer your business.
So it’s in your own best interests to research independently and be confident in your decision.
Should I choose the cheapest conveyancer?
This is where it gets a little bit tricky.
You’ve probably heard the saying “you get what you pay for.” This implies cheaper, smaller conveyancing firms will do a poorer job than larger, more expensive conveyancers. Well, in conveyancing that’s not always true.
Price variations can exist for a number of reasons and it isn’t always related to the quality of the service provided.
Reasons for price variations include:
- Solicitors in law firms will almost always charge much higher fees than conveyancers to handle a simple transaction. This is generally because they charge by the hour and every minute spent on your file, even taking a phone call from you, will be tallied and added to your total bill. Unless your conveyancing transaction is extremely legally complex, there is no real reason for you to use a solicitor over a conveyancer.
- Established conveyancing firms that have been in the business for a long time and have a large existing clientele don’t need to actively compete in the current market. As such, they don’t need to offer you a ‘reasonable’ price to entice you to give them your business.
- Read the fine print. Always. If you’re comparing prices between firms and read “Residential Conveyancing From $599” on one website and “Residential Conveyancing at a Fixed Fee of $799” on another, at first glance most readers register the price and nothing else, without noting that a ‘starting price’ is generally only a fee for the conveyancers professional time and does not include a long list of essential services. When you’ve narrowed down the conveyancers you might like to work with, ensure you give them a call or send them an email explaining the nature of your transaction and asking specific and pointed questions;
- The transaction involves [insert nature of transaction]- how much will this cost?
- Is that price fixed or can I expect additional expenses to pop up?
- Are there any out-of-pocket costs associated with your quote?
- Are there any instances in which I can expect the quoted figure to rise? How likely is it this will occur
If a firm promises a low starting price that’s almost too good to be true, there will almost inevitably be additional costs that will be a nasty surprise at the end of your transaction.
Should I choose a conveyancer local to me?
Conveyancers have to be registered and licensed in each state separately. So if you’re based in the Adelaide CBD, but want to hire a conveyancer in Sydney, this won’t work unless your conveyancer is registered and insured in SA as well. So it’s best to choose a conveyancer in your state.
If your conveyancer is registered and licensed in your state, it doesn’t matter at all if they’re based in the Adelaide CBD or a more remote location like Christie’s Beach.
Today, with the new e-conveyancing platform PEXA which facilitates online settlements, and platforms such as DocuSign, which allows the completely legal, safe and electronic signage of documents and agreements, if you don’t want to, you’ll never have to see your conveyancer face-to-face at all! Which means if you’re looking for a conveyancer but you’re based in Whyalla or Port Pirie, you don’t need to constrain your search to that region.
At JKA, we’re registered, licensed and insured in SA and NSW, meaning we can legally and safely conduct transactions across both states.
Are there any other considerations I need to make?
Yes- there are a few extra considerations you should make.
Firstly, make sure your conveyancer is licensed to carry out conveyancing services for a fee by visiting the appropriate authority website in SA and NSW.
Try to look for conveyancers with a high volume of positive reviews and a low ratio of positive to negative reviews.
And finally, connect with your potential conveyancer.
Conveyancing is a complex and often lengthy transaction and in order to feel comfortable things are going smoothly you’ll want to engage a conveyancer that makes you feel at ease, is communicative and informed. And although reviews, referrals and independent research is vital, the true test will be in connecting with your chosen conveyancer and having an informal chat about pricing, expectations, timelines and future communications.