Conveyancing FAQ

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Comparing Conveyancing Services

  • What is the difference between a conveyancer and a lawyer?

    A conveyancer or paralegal is a person trained in the process of conveyancing. They may have some qualifications but are not a lawyer and therefore not able to provide legal advice and must work under the direct supervision of a lawyer. A lawyer is someone who has completed the minimum academic qualifications and work experience required to be admitted as a legal practitioner by the Supreme Court. Certus Conveyancing only uses lawyers to conduct conveyances.

  • Do I need a specialist conveyancing lawyer?

    Queensland conveyancing is a complex and technical process. There are at least 15 different laws that affect the process and numerous undocumented practices. There is always the risk that something in a conveyance may not go as planned. There may be a problem with the property that is only revealed late in the process, an issue caused by the other side (deliberately or otherwise) or your finance arrangements may fall through. It is at times like these, that specialist conveyancing lawyers prove their worth. By being experts in their chosen area of law, conveyancing lawyers are able to explain, handle and try to pro-actively protect you against the numerous potential pitfalls in conveyancing. With combined experience of over 25 years in conveyancing, Certus Conveyancing’s team of specialist conveyancing lawyers can give you the peace of mind you want for one of the biggest transactions of your life.

  • What does 'fixed fee' conveyancing mean?

    Our “fixed fee” prices mean that at the start of the conveyance you are quoted a fee that includes all searches and steps required to complete your conveyance. The only exception is for options that you may request us to complete outside of the usual course of a conveyance. We will not charge you for photocopying, faxing or phone calls and our fee includes all the usual steps required in a conveyance. Some firms charge extra for things such as attending settlement. In our view, this lacks transparency as all conveyances will include settlement. Make sure when comparing conveyancing prices that you are looking at the total you will pay and what you get for it. Only then will you be making a fair comparison of conveyancing prices.

  • Why are the conveyancing prices for a buyer and a seller different?

    Buying a property is a more complex and involved process than selling a property. There are many more searches to perform and advise on and generally more work to do in terms of monitoring finance and other conditions. As such, the prices for buying are higher than the prices for selling.

  • Why are the conveyancing prices for buying a unit and buying a house different?

    Buying a unit is more complex than buying a house because a body corporate is usually involved. There are additional searches to perform and advise on in respect of the body corporate and additional notifications to be made after settlement.

General Conveyancing Questions

  • What is conveyancing?

    Conveyancing is the legal process that transfers the title of a property between the seller and the buyer. It starts when the contract is signed (or in some cases prior to signing the contract) and continues through until settlement when the title of the property is transferred in exchange for the purchase price. After settlement there are a number of important steps that must take place to notify relevant authorities of the conveyance. Check out our guide on how conveyancing works for more information.

  • Do I need to come to your office during the conveyancing process?

    In most cases, you will not be required to come to our offices. Most of our communications are conducted over the telephone or via email. Important documents that require signing can be emailed or posted and signed in front of appropriate witnesses anywhere, and then returned via post. So just because we may not have an office where you or the property are located, doesn’t mean that we can’t handle your conveyance. In fact, we handle regional and rural conveyances all the time without issue.

  • How long does a conveyance take?

    Most conveyances take 30 days from the date the contract is signed by the last party until settlement. The transfer of title then usually takes 1 to 2 weeks to register. But conveyances can be shorter (although as a buyer this makes it much harder to have time to complete all the required searches and arrange your finance) or longer (off the plan conveyances can be longer than 2 years in some cases). The length of your conveyance will be determined by the terms of your contract.

  • What are the key dates in a conveyance?

    There are numerous key dates in a conveyance that your conveyancing lawyer will make you aware of:

    • Contract Date – the date on which the last party signs the contract the contract comes into force. Quite often, other key dates are expressed with reference to this date (e.g. 30 days after the Contract Date).
    • Finance Date (if applicable) – the date on which the buyer must advise the seller that finance approval has or has not been obtained.
    • Building and Pest Inspection Date (if applicable) – the date on which the buyer must advise the seller that they have or have not obtained satisfactory building and pest reports.
    • Settlement Date – the date on which settlement must take place unless the parties mutually agree to extend or bring forward settlement.
  • What is the 'title' to a property?

    The “title” to a property is the legal ownership of the property. In Queensland, the Land Titles Office maintains a register of all properties and their owners. Previously, certificates of title in paper form were common. However these are no longer required and may in some cases, prove troublesome as they are easy to misplace and lose.

  • What are the 'searches' in a conveyance and why are they necessary?

    The searches in a conveyance are inquires undertaken to identify, evaluate and monitor any legal, ownership or property issues in a conveyance. The standard terms in most conveyancing contracts will give the buyer certain rights including termination or compensation if issues are identified in the searches. Some buyers often look to minimise the number of searches performed in order to save money, however in our view this can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. The value of the property and the downside potential with adverse search consequences versus the actual cost of searches is so disproportionate that it rarely makes sense to cut corners on searches.

  • What happens if there is a legal problem with my conveyancing contract?

    Certus Conveyancing’s team of specialist conveyancing lawyers will advise you on your options and recommend a course of action to best protect your position and achieve the outcome you want. As dedicated conveyancing lawyers, there is not much in conveyancing that our team have not seen before.

Settlement

  • What is settlement?

    Settlement is the act of transferring the title of the property in exchange for the purchase price. In practice, this means that the seller gives the buyer a signed transfer for the title of the property and the buyer gives the seller the purchase price (less deposit) in the form of bank cheques. Settlement takes place on settlement day and is attended by the parties’ respective lawyers and the outgoing and incoming mortgagees (if any). It is not usual for the actual buyer and seller to attend settlement.

  • What are settlement adjustments?

    Most properties will be subject to charges such as rates, water usage, body corporate fees etc. These charges will be over certain (sometimes differing) periods and it is rare for settlement to fall on the last day of one or all of the periods. Accordingly, these charges must be apportioned for the period that applies to the seller and the period that applies to the seller. The parties’ lawyers will prepare these adjustments and then agree on the correct figures. This will then result in either a deduction or addition to the purchase price.

  • What happens after settlement?

    Following settlement, the buyer’s lawyer or the buyer’s incoming mortgagee will lodge the transfer forms with the Land Titles Office in order to register the change of title. This can take several weeks. This will also trigger automatic notifications to the local government. Utility providers need to be contacted by the buyer separately (this is not performed by the buyer’s lawyer). If the property is part of a body corporate, then the buyer’s lawyer will advise the body corporate of the change of ownership so that the body corporate’s records can be updated.

The Conveyancing Contract

  • What are the standard terms in a conveyancing contract?

    Most conveyances in Queensland are documented using the REIQ standard contract. This contract is reviewed by the Queensland Law Society and contains all the usual terms required for a standard conveyance in Queensland. There are differing versions depending on what type of property is being sold and purchased. You may also see an ADL Forms contract that is less common but remains in wide use. It contains similar terms to the REIQ standard contract.

  • What are the special conditions in a conveyancing contract?

    Special conditions are the extra terms added to a contract to deal with specific situations in a particular conveyance. It may be entirely appropriate for there to be no special conditions in your contract or there may be good reasons (such as particular issues with the property) for including some special conditions. In either case, having a conveyancing lawyer review the contract prior to signing will help determine whether any special conditions are required and if they are, the lawyer can draft the conditions for you.

  • What are the 'conditions' to the contract?

    The conditions to the contract are provisions that allow a party (usually the buyer) to terminate without defaulting. The most common conditions are the finance condition and the building and pest condition.

  • What is the finance condition?

    In the standard contract, the finance condition provides that the buyer try to obtain finance approval from their incoming mortgagee by a certain date and then advise the seller of the result. If the result is approval, then the condition is satisfied and the conveyance continues (subject to any other conditions). If the result is non-approval, then the buyer may terminate and receive a refund of their deposit. If the buyer does not advise the seller by the required date of the outcome, then the buyer retains a right to terminate the contract up to settlement but the seller also obtains a right to terminate. In either case, the deposit is refunded to the buyer.

  • What is a building and pest inspection?

    A building and pest inspection is a physical review of the property undertaken by a licensed builder. The builder will then provide a report to the buyer noting any defects. If there is a building and pest inspection condition in the conveyance (an option within the standard contract) and the buyer is not satisfied with the results (acting reasonably) then the buyer may terminate and receive a refund of their deposit. The buyer must notify the seller of the outcome by the required date otherwise the condition is deemed satisfied. Quite often, a buyer will seek to use an adverse report as a negotiating tool to reduce the purchase price by the amount that is required to rectify any identified defect in the property or to ask the seller to complete the works prior to settlement.

Fees & Charges

  • What is transfer duty (previously known as stamp duty) and why do I need to pay it?

    Transfer duty (previously known as stamp duty and still described as such by many people) is a tax imposed by the State Government on the transfer of property. In the vast majority of conveyances and in the standard terms of the conveyancing contract, the transfer duty is payable by the buyer. The amount of transfer duty payable is based on the purchase price. There are concessions available to certain classes of buyers such as first home and home buyers.

  • What is the registration fee?

    The registration fee is the fee payable by the buyer to register the transfer of title at the Land Titles Office (the central government authority that administers land titling in Queensland). If you have an incoming mortgagee, your mortgagee will pay this fee on your behalf and charge you for it (usually by deducting it from the loan proceeds). If you do not have an incoming mortgagee, then will will advise you of this amount prior to settlement and ask you to pay it into our trust account so that we can then make payment of it on your behalf.

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