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.
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.
About Jhai Mitchell
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.