Conveyancing - More Information

Conveyancing is the act of transferring the legal title in a property from one person to another. The buyer must ensure that he or she obtains a good and marketable 'title' to the land; i.e., that the person selling the house actually has the right to sell it and there is no factor which would impede a mortgage or re-sale. A system of conveyancing is usually designed to ensure that the buyer secures title to the land together with all the rights that run with the land, and is notified of any restrictions in advance of purchase.

A typical conveyancing transaction, whether a sale or purchase, contains two major 'landmarks', which are exchange of contracts (whereby equitable title passes) and completion (whereby legal title passes), plus the three stages: before contract, before completion and after completion.

In most mature jurisdictions, conveyancing is facilitated by a system of land registration which, in the near future, is likely to lead to widespread (if not mandatory) use of electronic conveyancing.

Electronic or Digital Conveyancing can be defined as

  1. the system of exchanging sales & mortgage documentation and property data electronically
  2. between vendor & buyer, agent & lawyer, brokers & banks, government & land registry
  3. from point of sale to contract to settlement
  4. with or without printed documentation.

In Australia much of the land which was first colonised by England is still Common Law (also known as Old System). However since the introduction of Torrens title in 1858 most land is now under the new (and greatly improved) system of conveyance.

Conveyancing in Australia is usually completed by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. There are also kits available if the buyer wishes to complete the process themselves, but due to the complexity of varying state and council laws and processes, its usually not recommended.

A common conveyance by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer usually takes 4-6 weeks. Most firms offer fixed price services (around $1000) which usually includes costs of searches, legal advice and other outlays.

In most states and territories a typical conveyance includes, but is not bound or limited to, the following:

  • Title Searches
  • checking for encumbrances and restrictions on the property
  • ensuring any special conditions mentioned in the contract are met
  • making sure rates and water consumption charges are paid by the appropriate party
  • arranging for the payment of fees and charges
  • preparation of legal documents.

Searches tend to take up the bulk of the conveyance. Due to the three level system of government in the country (federal, state and local), it must be made sure that all rights and title are properly awarded to the seller. Most information is retrieved from state or local (council) authorities.

A standard search package could include:

  • Company search
  • Contaminated Land search
  • Council Property search
  • Full Council Inspection of Records search
  • Land Tax search
  • Main Roads search
  • Registered Plan Search or Building Units/Group Titles Plan Search
  • Titles Search & check title search

Requirements, searches and costs can vary from state to state, depending on local property legislation and safeguards.