Property is a fiddly business. The quest for obtaining, selling, or transferring property from one person to another is steeped in many processes and laws. More often than not, the average person doesn’t have the skills or time to decipher and follow these processes to ensure a secure property transfer – so they’ll pay a professional conveyancer to help them along the way. The question is: how much should they be paying for this service, and what does it involve?
To lessen the stress, just ask a real estate agent, they can explain the process and recommend conveyancers. Compare top-performing agents using our free services quickly using our online form tool here.
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What Is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing covers the legal and statutory process of transferring real estate ownership from one person to another. Conveyancing involves the preparation, execution and lodgement of various legal documents to enable a swift and legal sale. Typically there are 3 phases; preparation of sale contract, the exchange of contracts and completion.
To get a grasp of what is involved in conveyancing, have a look at the video below.
By definition, conveyancing is:
“The action of preparing documents for the conveyance of property.”
“The branch of law concerned with the preparation of documents for the conveyance of property.”
Conveyancing also branches out into:
Building and construction
From construction to history of ownership, these searches present an overall picture of the property’s value, condition, and any legal ramifications attached to these assets. The conveyancer’s job is to:
Communicate the status of the process to their client
Communicate with the opposite party, or their conveyancer, and negotiate on behalf of their client’
Verify the opposite party’s information
Organise any outsourced activities, which fall under disbursement costs
Who can do conveyancing?
You can seek conveyancing services from:
A licensed conveyancer
Many solicitors practice as conveyancers. Their understanding of legal processes and documents such as the Sale of Land Act involved in transferring land and property from one person to another makes them ideal for advising property owners and buyers of the requirements involved.
While homeowners and potential buyers aren’t legally obliged to transfer property sales through a conveyancer, many of them find it very worth their while to do so. The advice and guidance from such professionals does cost – but it’s a small price to pay for the security of the transfer of titles and funds.
How much does conveyancing cost?
The conveyancing costs on a property depends on its unique condition and circumstances. An expert conveyancer can give you an accurate assessment of the processes involved for the particular property you’re interested in buying or selling, helping you to ensure a smooth sale or purchase.
What Is Included In The Conveyancing Fee?
There are a number of legal, financial, and construction factors involved when looking at property. Conveyancers bridge all three areas; so their services span a variety of activities.
These activities can be grouped into three areas:
Research – investigating and obtaining information on the property. This includes the legal ownership and titles, the condition of the property, and its’ history and finances
Preparing documentation – this involves the creation of a sales contract (from both the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancers), preparing any legal or governmental documentation (i.e, for stamp duty), and preparing to deliver deposits or transfer title ownership
Examination and verification of information provided by the seller/buyer or their representing conveyancer. For example, ensuring that the information provided is accurate, reading the terms of their contract, and verifying the transfer process at the time of settlement
Conveyancing fees related to property involve a collection of services. These services commonly include:
The creation of a sales contracts
The examination of the buyer’s seller’s contract
Searches for property and/or land titles
Investigating whether organisations, local councils or government have any plans for the property or land
Legal searches on the finances associated with the house (for example, mortgages)
Pest and building inspections
Stamp duty processes
Assessing a valuation that accurately reflects the property’s value
Obtaining certificates for the property (e.g, water usage, electricity meter readings etc)
Who Pays The Conveyancing Fee?
Conveyancing involves a transaction involving four parties:
The seller’s conveyancer
The buyer’s conveyancer
If the buyer and seller each hire a conveyancer to represent them in the sale of property, then the conveyancers will deal with each other in the interests of their respective clients.
They will be compensated for securing the property transfer from:
The seller, who pays a small percentage of the total funds received from the house sale (or a negotiated flat fee) to their representative conveyancer
The buyer, who pays a small percentage of the purchase price (or a negotiated flat fee) to their conveyancer for securing the transfer of assets
Keep in mind that conveyancing fees are just one of the costs associated with selling a property. You also need to consider marketing costs and the agent’s selling commission. To better understand these fees speak with the top performing agents in your suburb.
What’s more; each state has its own fees and laws around property transfer. We’ve laid out the key differences to help you navigate the territory below.
For the layman, this is a difficult process, and could cost far more money than it saves.
Kaylee Wadderick, President of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers (New South Wales Division) , says:
“A buyer should consult a conveyancer before they sign a contract or before they start negotiating the purchase of a property, just to make sure they’ve got everything in line”.
For these reasons, the vast majority of home buyers and owners are happy to pay for the secure sale of purchase of property by engaging a conveyancer. The conveyancer’s fees can vary greatly depending on the tasks involved. While they aren’t standardised throughout the state, clients are entitled to transparency for their conveyancer’s fees.
As Fair Trading NSW points out, when dealing with a conveyancer, you’re entitled to:
Negotiating a costs agreement with the conveyancer
Knowing the conveyancer’s costs upfront and disclosed with transparency
Conveyancing Fees in Sydney
Sydney is known for its competitive and high-priced property market. Securing property is a highly desirable, yet challenging feat, and it’s common to engage a conveyancer to help boost success in the process.
Conveyancer’s fees in Sydney can often charged as:
A percentage of the property sale price (for the seller’s conveyancer)
A percentage of the purchase price (for the buyer’s conveyancer)
A flat fee for the cost of each conveyancing activity incurred (ie, title search, council searches, the drawing up of the sale contract)
A negotiated cost between the client and the conveyancer
The most common fee charge is through a percentage of the total sale or purchase price. These prices are secured during the settlement period, where the sales contract is signed.
Generally, the total cost of a conveyancer in Sydney or New South Wales ranges from $1000 to $2500. There are also additional disbursement costs for charges that may be incurred by the conveyancer for you (sourced from the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division Ltd (AICNSW)):
Title Search $20 – $100
Local Council Building Certificate $250
Local Council S149 Certificate $53 – $133
Drainage Diagram $25
Sydney Water, rates certificate $20 – $25
Local Council, rates certificate $65
Land Tax, clearance certificate $20 – $25
Department of Education $20 – $25
Environmental Protection Authority $20 – $25
Roads & Traffic Authority $20 – $25
Transgrid, electricity/power stations $20 – $30
Postage, stationery, faxes $20 – $40
Local Council Pool Compliance/Non-Compliance Certificate – $150 – $450
Other costs may apply, depending on the transaction
How Much Does Conveyancing Cost In Melbourne, VIC?
Melbourne is considered one of the world’s auction capitals. As such, it’s important to understand how buying a house in the auction differs from a private sale. In such situations, it is particularly important to engage a conveyancer that will understand the rules and laws around property purchases through auction.
LawHelp Australiaagrees with this process; highlighting the importance of a conveyancer’s counsel and expertise in the purchase and sale of property.
While there are no regulations on conveyancing fees, Consumer Affairs Victoria outlines the legal conveyancers fee disclosure requirements, where:
Conveyancers must provide their fees upfront if known at the start of client representation
If the conveyancer can’t provide upfront costs (for example, the particular conveyancing case is unusual, or has particular requirements), they must detail how they calculate their fees
They also need to provide clients with invoices, and state how and when the invoices will be provided.
In Melbourne and surrounding Victoria, the conveyancing fee ranges from $600 to $1400, depending on the value of the property, type of property and if you opt for a conveyancer or a solicitor. Additionally, disbursement costs may be incurred by the conveyancer as they research your property and relevant legal requirements, e.g. for title searches or council requirements. Disbursement costs in Victoria generally run under $400 dollars.
How Much Does Conveyancing Cost In Brisbane, QLD?
Unlike Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane’s house prices have not reached soaring heights. The market in Queensland may not be as dynamic and volatile as in other states; but it enjoys steady activity.
Like elsewhere, homeowners and buyers seek conveyancers to help navigate and secure their property purchase or sale. It’s common for conveyancers fees throughout the state to be charged as:
Flat fees for conveyancing and disbursement costs
Negotiated costs for the the conveyancers’ expertise in selling or buying property
Conveyancer’s fees can incur at any and all of these stages. Settlement is the final step within the transfer of title and funds, The title and funds are transferred immediately when notified to secure the transaction, and complete the sale.
Conveyancing fees in Queensland often range between $500 to $1300. There may be additional charges for disbursement fees, these are charges incurred by the conveyancer for title searches, council/water rate searches and similar processes. These disbursement fees vary but generally stay under $300.
What Is A Disbursement Fee? How Is It Different To Conveyancer’s Fees?
A disbursement fee is a legal fee outside the standard conveyancing fees. Disbursement fees are charged on top of the standard conveyancing fees, for services such as:
Professional investigations and reports (such as a building and pest investigation)
Legal documents, e.g. title searches, warrants, subpoenas
Interpreter costs and charges
Disbursement charges are generally higher than the standard conveyancing costs as they are usually outside the scope of the conveyancer’s practice. They are charges that the conveyancer has had to outsource in order to reach new information, or an end result; and which are included in their work in helping the client buy, sell, or transfer property titles.
Asking your conveyancer the right questions will help assure you of their expertise, and prepare you for the processes involved. They’ll be able to give you an accurate idea of the costs involved in conveyancing, and help you understand what these costs are covering.
Some general questions that are useful for gaining insight into costs and processes involves:
What information do I need to provide?
Could you provide a list of your fees and services?
What happens if I (or the seller) has a mortgage on the house?
How much is the standard deposit required when buying a house?
How long does it usually take for the title to be transferred to me?
Am I able to change my mind after signing a sales contract?
Will I get my deposit back if I change my mind in the process? If not; how much will I have to pay?
Is the seller obliged to pay for and fix any damage to the property that might be revealed in the pest and building inspection?
How do you calculate your charges?
Do you charge for making calls/administrative costs?
When will you invoice me?
Do I have to pay for building and pest inspections?
What happens if the property is under any disputes?
What disbursement costs can I expect to pay?
What information does the buyer/seller legally have to provide?
The processes involved in buying or selling a house in your state or
The requirements to transfer a property of land title from one person to another
This research will help you ask the right questions for your conveyancer, and ensure that the conveyancing process is suited to your needs and situation, helping the transfer run smoothly.
Finding A Conveyancer
Real estate agents work closely with conveyancers and solicitors and intimately know who are the better conveyancers in the local area. They work closely with both buyer and seller and conveyancers to ensure every transaction successfully settles. Agents only get paid after settlement, so it is in their interest that the whole transaction is smooth and stress-free.