October 6, 2021

What Is the Difference Between a Lawyer and a Conveyancer?

While you’re climbing the property ladder, we’ll make sure you don’t fall.

When buying or selling a property, there is a necessary legal process to undertake that transfers the ownership of the property from one person (or party) to another. If you’re buying or selling property, you should engage the services of a professional – a lawyer or a conveyancer – who will provide confidence that you are fully protected legally and that all the necessary documentation has been properly reviewed and completed.

This can be the difference in securing a dream home, capitalising on a hot offer, or seeing your property dreams turn into a nightmare because certain details have been overlooked, or broader implications of your transaction, such as tax affairs, have not been considered.

Let’s say you’re searching for a property to buy. Most real estate agents will advise you to be “market-ready”: from knowing your budget to pre-approved finance, you’re ready to make an offer and get a jump on the market. That also means having a solicitor or conveyancer ready to go. They are your security blanket – they make sure that the property you want to buy is what it says it is, with no hidden surprises.

Between exchange of contracts and settlement, your solicitor/conveyancer will obtain any necessary searches/certificates, prepare to have the property transferred to your name upon settlement and, if necessary, coordinate having funds available from your bank.

The question is, who do you engage? A solicitor (lawyer) or conveyancer? In most cases, a conveyancer will be cheaper, but the price is not the only factor to consider. Here are a few points to consider.

  • Conveyancers who are not lawyers are limited in the scope of conveyancing services they can provide you.
  • Conveyancers can only provide you with conveyancing advice and cannot advise on tax implications or other legal complexities arising from purchasing or selling a property.
  • Certain services can only be executed by a lawyer, such as reviewing acceptable or unacceptable terms or risks associated with buying the property and providing written advice.
  • Where a Power of Attorney is required for a transaction, this can only be certified by a lawyer.
  • A Contract of Sale and Vendor’s Statement must be prepared by a lawyer. A conveyancer, who is not a lawyer, legally cannot perform these services.
  • A conveyancer, who is not a lawyer, may perform work beyond their limited scope, and their indemnity insurance may not cover any problem with the settlement process.
  • Lawyers have unlimited scope when conveyancing, so their clients are fully covered under the lawyers’ professional indemnity insurance policy. In many cases, their eye for detail and broader knowledge of estate planning means you have peace of mind for all your property transactions.
  • Solicitors may charge more because they have extensive knowledge about property laws and understand the full legal implications of a transaction. For example, solicitors dealing with property can advise clients on issues beyond regular conveyancing, such as capital gains tax implications when selling a property.
  • If your transaction is a consequence of divorce, a solicitor can help you deal with marital issues, while also taking care of conveyancing duties.
  • Solicitors dealing with a property can help you handle any other problems that may arise, such as matters involving the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) or any court action.

If you engage a lawyer, you can be confident that a legal professional with specialist skills and experience in property law is acting for you and that any risk to you in the transaction has been identified and mitigated.

From celebrating buying your first home to downsizing in retirement, Foye Legal can guide you through buying and selling property through all stages of your life.


Story By

Diana Foye