Conveyancing in Australia

What is Conveyancing?

The term Conveyancing refers to a legal transaction where property (such as a home or land) or an encumbrance (mortgage, lease, or lien) changes hands between two entities. In this transaction, buyers and sellers enter into a contract to transfer ownership, and then the title to the property is transferred legally from the seller to the buyer. In the process of conveyancing, the buyer must ensure that he is obtaining a good, unrestricted title to the property. By “unrestricted,” we mean there should be no problems surrounding the ownership of the land that would preclude the seller from transferring all rights to this property to the buyer. Without a proper system of Conveyancing in place, the buyer could purchase disputed property and run into major difficulties, including lawsuits and issues selling it later.

Conveyancing in Australia

Until 1858, conveyance of land in Australia was conducted under a system of common law (“Old System”). What this meant was that land owners had to prove their title possession through a “chain of deeds” that extended all the way back to the land’s initial grant to its original, first-ever owner. This cumbersome, muddled process was superseded with the introduction in 1858 of Torrens title, in which most land in Australia is governed by a system of deed registration. The registration of land ownership with the government does away with the need for a seller to prove ownership through exhaustive deed records. Torrens title makes conveyance more efficient, faster, and more certain, as it is guaranteed by the government.

The Conveyancing Process

Conveyancing usually takes about a month or two and is made up of various searches, negotiations and drafting of contracts, all designed to assure clean ownership and the valid transfer of property. Searches for title background information, liens, road and tax information, and more are conducted at the local, state, and federal government levels. Fee and tax payment issues are defined and resolved during this process, all legal documents are prepared, and special conditions in the contract, if needed, are established. The process is a complex one and it is important to determine who will carry it out.

Conveyancing: DIY?

Conveyancing can be conducted without assistance through the purchase of a do-it-yourself conveyancing kit. This is a package of forms, legal documents, and a detailed explanation of the conveyancing process. This is not recommended, however, as conveyancing is a complex system not be navigated haphazardly. Even in the best possible scenario, following conveyancing kit exactly, any number of issues can come up to complicate things and derail the procedure. You can be sure the seller is likely to have a professionally working for them, so your best bet is to hire your own representative who can give qualified guidance and representation throughout this entire intricate process.

Conveyancing Professionals

There are two types of professionals who can conduct the conveyance process. These are the Conveyancing Lawyer and the Licensed Conveyancer. As actual qualified professionals, both are certainly preferable to the DIY method of using a kit. The difference between the two is that a licensed conveyance is a professional who may actually specialize in something else, but has obtained a certificate in conveyancy through professional training. A conveyancing lawyer is a solicitor whose primary area of practice is conveyancy. Which you hire is up to you. The lawyer may be the more costly option, but is a better ally if you anticipate a more complicated conveyancy process in given purchase. The best practice is to research conveyancy professionals and obtain price quotes from various professionals to determine your best option.