What is the Difference between a Solicitor and a Conveyancer?

Con­vey­an­cing is the pro­cess of trans­fer­ring own­er­ship of real prop­erty from one per­son or entity to another.  When you are buy­ing or selling prop­erty, you will usu­ally need to decide between hir­ing a Soli­citor or a Con­vey­an­cer. It can be con­fus­ing to decide between the two types of pro­fes­sion­als who appear to do the same kind of work. But is it the same work and are they equally qualified?

Before you engage either of the two pro­fes­sion­als, you must under­stand the dif­fer­ences between the two. To help you make an informed decision on which to chose, here is some inform­a­tion that will help you decide.

What’s the dif­fer­ence between a Soli­citor and a Conveyancer?

Firstly both Con­vey­an­cers and Soli­cit­ors must hold Pro­fes­sional Indem­nity Insur­ance and com­ply with a Pro­fes­sional Code of Con­duct so you know their work and advice will be covered by a pro­fes­sional indem­nity insurer if any claims need to be made. Licensed Con­vey­an­cers belong to an industry body known as the Insti­tute of Con­vey­an­cers and Soli­cit­ors belong to the Law Soci­ety of New South Wales.

Con­vey­an­cers must have com­pleted a min­imum 2 years ter­tiary study on real prop­erty law and must have at least 2 years super­vised exper­i­ence in prac­tical con­vey­an­cing before they can apply for a con­vey­an­cing licence. Con­vey­an­cing licences are issued and admin­istered by the NSW Office of Fair Trading.

Law­yers would have com­pleted at least 6 years study at ter­tiary level in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent areas of law and then must com­plete a period of prac­tical legal train­ing before they can apply for a prac­tising cer­ti­fic­ate which allows them to under­take con­vey­an­cing work. Prac­tising Cer­ti­fic­ates are issued and admin­istered by the Law Soci­ety of New South Wales.A property invester not knowing the difference between a Solicitor and a Conveyancer

Gen­er­ally Con­vey­an­cers only have detailed know­ledge in prop­erty law. Soli­cit­ors on the other hand have detailed know­ledge about prop­erty law but also have a much broader know­ledge of the law in gen­eral. This means that a Soli­citor can advise their cli­ent on any and all aspects of the con­vey­ance, but also on issues that might relate to the trans­ac­tion such as cap­ital gains tax implic­a­tions and prop­erty set­tle­ment pro­ceed­ings with a former spouse.

If a trans­ac­tion goes bey­ond the scope of what is con­sidered con­vey­an­cing work under the Con­vey­an­cers Licens­ing Act 2003 or if the mat­ter becomes a legal dis­pute which appears to be head­ing towards lit­ig­a­tion, then a Licensed Con­vey­an­cer must refer the trans­ac­tion to a Soli­citor for assist­ance. Altern­at­ively, if a trans­ac­tion becomes liti­gi­ous then a Soli­citor may have the expert­ise to handle the con­vey­an­cing trans­ac­tion and the dis­pute sim­ul­tan­eously without the need to refer it to any­one else.

What are the costs dif­fer­ence between a Soli­citor and a Con­vey­an­cer?

The main reason why people hire a Con­vey­an­cer over a Soli­citor is because Con­vey­an­cers are gen­er­ally cheaper. Con­vey­an­cers can charge any­where between $600-$900 plus dis­burse­ments (third party costs), whereas Soli­cit­ors are known to charge any­where between $1000 – $1500 or even more plus dis­burse­ments. Some­times fees are based on the value of the prop­erty you are selling or pur­chas­ing. Although this is not a huge dif­fer­ence in price between the two pro­fes­sion­als, some­times the budget is tight and even the smal­lest of sav­ings can help.

Con­versely and in some instances mak­ing a decision based solely on costs can come back and bite you espe­cially if you’ve hired a Con­vey­an­cer to do your con­vey­an­cing, they might need to send you to see a Soli­citor if some­thing goes wrong, in which case you’ll prob­ably end up pay­ing more than you would have had you hired a Soli­citor to begin with.

Gen­eral tips when mak­ing a decision based on costs:


  • Regard­less of whether you chose a Con­vey­an­cer or a Soli­citor don’t for­get that for either pro­fes­sional to offer a low price they often have to take on a lot of files to make a profit, so you may not get the same level of ser­vice as you should in your con­vey­an­cing transaction.
  • Regard­less of who you chose, the bet­ter the ser­vice and the legal advice the higher the price will be in most cases. Gen­er­ally the cheaper options are usu­ally the least exper­i­enced. Pro­fes­sion­als charge because they know how valu­able their time and exper­i­ence is. Exper­i­ence is earned the hard way through many years of prac­tice and will gen­er­ally cost you more money.

What is the conclusion?

The advant­age of hir­ing a Soli­citor to do your con­vey­an­cing is that they have extens­ive legal know­ledge in most areas of law, so they’ll be avail­able to quickly solve any legal issues that arise dur­ing the course of the trans­ac­tion. Examples where a trans­ac­tion is at risk of becom­ing com­plic­ated include off the plan pur­chases with spe­cific dead­lines, when a plan of sub­di­vi­sion is required or when con­trac­tual issues arise. If you are on a tight budget and are not too con­cerned with extens­ive ser­vice then a Con­vey­an­cer might just be right for you.

How­ever if you are involved in a com­plex pur­chase or sale which requires detailed nego­ti­ations or has a large num­ber of con­trac­tual issues and risks you might be bet­ter off using a Soli­citor as they will have the exper­i­ence and can assist you by hav­ing a more com­pre­hens­ive under­stand­ing of the law.


Jhai is an award win­ning Inter­net Mar­ket­ing Real Estate Agent for Eld­ers Toongab­bie and Kings Langley. After run­ning his own inter­net mar­ket­ing busi­ness he has now set his own sites for the real estate industry. He observed that 90% of real estate agents did not know how to mar­ket them­selves online. Jhai is now fixed on one goal. To teach real estate agents that they can mar­ket online so much bet­ter than they cur­rently are.

Since then he has been con­sist­ently quoted in the Sydney Morn­ing Her­ald and Real Estate Busi­ness online. He is a reg­u­lar guest blog­ger on TheHomePage.com.au, shar­ing his expert­ise of mar­ket­ing aspects for the Real Estate Industry. His biggest pas­sions are his wife, mar­tial arts, dogs and most of all property.

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