Buying (or selling) property is one of the biggest and most important financial decisions you will make.
As exciting as it is, however, it can be extremely complex, involving a pile of paperwork filled with complicated wording that inevitably grows as each stage of the transaction takes place.
Conveyancing is the legal work involved in preparing the sales contract, mortgage and other related documents when buying or selling a home, land or investment property.
It also involves transferring the title deeds from the seller to the buyer, as well as the discharge/establishment of the mortgage.
While the bulk of the conveyancing process is carried out once the contract is signed, some aspects can be carried out before you sign a contract.
This includes verifying the property meets council building standards, property boundaries are accurately marked and confirming the seller is the legitimate property owner, this is where a conveyancer comes in.
A conveyancer is a qualified professional specialising in property transactions, said Rosemary Cotton from the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.
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It is not compulsory to engage a conveyancer to guide you through a transaction, but conveyancing work is highly technical and specialised, so a do-it-yourself approach can certainly be a minefield.
Indeed, errors can cause delays to settlement (requiring you to pay default interest) or even enable the other party to terminate the contract.
Engaging a conveyancer is like having your own personal guide through what can be a complicated process.
Using plain English instead of legal jargon, a conveyancer can explain clearly the meaning and importance of each document so you know exactly what you are signing.
Your conveyancer will assist you to meet your legal obligations and protect your rights and interests.
Whether buying or selling, you need to be aware of anything affecting the property in question, such as proposals by government departments, illegal buildings, or outstanding rates your conveyancer can conduct the appropriate searches and inquiries on your behalf.
To ensure you are fully informed prior to taking this step, consult a registered conveyancer. Many real estate agents have local conveyancers to whom they refer work.
Remember, though, it is your right to choose a conveyancer you are comfortable with that you believe is there to protect your interests; and if you would prefer to select your own you can visit the Australian Institute of Conveyancers SA Division Inc to see the member directory.