The Ultimate Guide to Conveyancing in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

Guide to Conveyancing in Australia
June 9, 2023

Today we’re going to chat about an essential part of buying and selling property down under – conveyancing. No need to fret, I promise it’s less complicated than it sounds. Plus, getting a grip on this will make your property buying or selling journey a fair dinkum easier.

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing, in a nutshell, is the legal process of transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another. Sounds simple, right? But when you consider the paperwork and legalities involved, you realise there’s a bit more to it. For an in-depth look at conveyancing, you can refer to this Understanding Conveyancing in Australia article.

Why is Conveyancing Important?

Now, you might be wondering why this process is so crucial. Well, when you’re dealing with properties worth thousands, if not millions, of dollars, it’s paramount to ensure that every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ is crossed. Proper conveyancing ensures the property transaction is fair, legal, and binding, protecting both the buyer’s and the seller’s rights and interests.

The Role of a Conveyancer in Australia

Here comes the role of a conveyancer – the bloke or sheila who’ll take care of the legalities for you. The conveyancer will conduct necessary searches, prepare or review contracts, liaise with the other party’s conveyancer, and be there to guide you every step of the way. They’re your lifesaver in this sometimes-chaotic process!

Steps Involved in the Conveyancing Process

Moving on, let’s dive into the steps involved in the conveyancing Process. From the pre-contract stage to the final settlement, we’ll walk you through the key milestones you need to be aware of.

Pre-Contract Stage

This is the stage before any paperwork has been signed. Here, your conveyancer will draft the contract if you’re the seller, or review it if you’re the buyer. They’ll make sure everything is on the up-and-up, addressing any issues and ensuring all necessary disclosures are made. You can get a more comprehensive understanding of this stage in our transfer ownership process guide.

Property Inspection

Next up, we have the property inspection. This step is a non-negotiable if you’re the buyer. It’s where you’ll get a professional to check out the property for any defects, big or small. They’ll cover everything from structural issues to pest problems. You want to know what you’re getting into, so no unpleasant surprises crop up later!

Contract Negotiation

Once you’ve got a clear picture of the property’s condition, it’s time to negotiate. This is when you and the other party hammer out the terms of the contract. Everything from the purchase price to the settlement period can be discussed. If you’re not one for haggling, don’t worry! That’s what your conveyancer is there for.

Cooling-Off Period

After the contracts are signed, the cooling-off period begins. This is your chance as a buyer to back out of the contract. Maybe you’ve had a change of heart, or perhaps an unexpected problem came up. The good news is, during this time, you can withdraw from the sale, although you might have to pay a small penalty. Keep in mind, though, that not all Australian states offer this period, so check with your conveyancer.

Exchange of Contracts

Assuming all’s well and you decide to proceed, the next step is the exchange of contracts. Both parties’ conveyancers will swap signed copies and check for any last-minute changes or issues. This is the point where the sale becomes legally binding, and pulling out can lead to serious penalties.

Deposit Payment

With the exchange of contracts done, it’s now time to put your money where your mouth is. The buyer has to pay a deposit on the property, usually around 10% of the purchase price. This deposit demonstrates your commitment to the sale and provides the seller with some security.

Contract Signing

The contracts have been exchanged and the deposit paid, so what’s next? It’s time to make it official with the signing of the contracts. Both parties sign identical copies, making the sale officially binding. This isn’t a step to be taken lightly, as backing out after this stage can result in serious financial penalties.

Settlement Stage

Now we’re on the home stretch! The settlement stage is where the balance of the purchase price is paid. This usually involves your bank if you’ve taken out a mortgage. Your conveyancer will ensure that all financial matters are settled, so you don’t have to sweat the details. For more information about this, check out our handy property settlement guide.

Final Inspection

Before the property officially changes hands, it’s a good idea for the buyer to conduct a final inspection. This is to ensure that the property is in the same condition as when the contract was signed. It’s also to verify that any agreed-upon repairs have been carried out. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Payment of Balance

Once the final inspection is ticked off, it’s time to pay the remaining balance. This is the bulk of the property’s purchase price, minus the deposit you’ve already paid. Usually, your lender (if you have a mortgage) will take care of this step, transferring the funds directly to the seller or their agent.

Title Transfer

Last, but definitely not least, is the title transfer. This is the legal process of transferring the property’s ownership from the seller to the buyer. Your conveyancer will handle all the nitty-gritty details, including lodging the necessary documents with the relevant state authority. Congratulations! Once this step is done, you’re officially the property owner.

Legal Documents Involved in Conveyancing

Now that we’ve got a handle on the process, let’s move onto the paperwork. You might not love it, but it’s a necessary part of the process. So, let’s dive into the legal documents involved in conveyancing.

Contract of Sale

First up, we’ve got the contract of sale. This document outlines all the important details of the sale, such as the property’s price, the deposit amount, the settlement period, and so on. It also includes special conditions, like the buyer’s right to a final inspection before settlement. Our contract of sale guide can give you a more detailed look at this document.

Vendor’s Statement

Next on the list is the Vendor’s Statement, also known as a Section 32. This document, provided by the seller, gives the buyer information about the property that may not be immediately obvious. This could include details about any easements or covenants on the property, or outstanding rates or charges. Essentially, it’s designed to give you a full picture of what you’re buying.

Certificate of Title

The Certificate of Title is a crucial document that provides evidence of who owns the property. It includes information about any mortgages, easements, or other encumbrances on the property. You’ll want to make sure there are no unexpected surprises here, so it’s one of the documents your conveyancer will check carefully.

Transfer of Land

Last but not least, we have the Transfer of Land document. This is the legal document that gets lodged with the state’s titles office to officially record the change in ownership. Your conveyancer will take care of preparing and lodging this document for you. Once it’s lodged and processed, you’re officially the new owner of the property!

Costs Associated with Conveyancing

Alright, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: costs. Conveyancing isn’t free, and it’s important to budget for these expenses when you’re planning to buy or sell a property. We’ll break down the main costs for you here, so you know what to expect.

Professional Fees

First off, there’s the conveyancer’s professional fees. This is what you pay the conveyancer for their time and expertise in guiding you through the conveyancing process. The fee can vary based on factors like the complexity of the transaction, the conveyancer’s experience level, and your location. Be sure to ask for a detailed quote upfront to avoid any unexpected surprises.

Government Fees

Next, you’ve got government fees. These can include costs like stamp duty, which is a tax on property transactions, and registration fees for lodging documents like the transfer of land. The exact amounts will depend on your state and the value of the property. Your conveyancer should be able to give you a rough estimate of these costs early on.

Additional Costs

Beyond these, there may be additional costs, like the cost of conducting property searches or obtaining certificates. These are necessary to ensure there are no hidden issues with the property. While these costs are generally minor compared to the professional and government fees, they can add up, so it’s wise to factor them into your budget.

Hidden Costs to Watch Out For

Lastly, keep an eye out for any hidden costs. These might come in the form of unexpected fees or charges that weren’t included in the original quote. To avoid getting caught out, make sure to ask your conveyancer for a comprehensive breakdown of all costs before you engage their services.

Common Issues and Challenges in Conveyancing

Now, let’s talk about some of the common issues and challenges you might encounter during the conveyancing process. It’s not always smooth sailing, but knowing what to expect can help you navigate any bumps in the road.

Property Defects

Property defects can be a major hurdle in the conveyancing process. These can range from structural problems to pest infestations, and they can often lead to a renegotiation of the contract terms or even a sale falling through. This is why property inspections are so crucial — they can help identify these issues early on.

Title Disputes

Title disputes can also pose a challenge. These can occur if there are errors in the title, conflicting claims of ownership, or if a previous transfer was conducted improperly. Your conveyancer will carry out thorough checks to ensure the title is clear, but in the event of a dispute, the sale can be delayed or even cancelled.

Finance Issues

Finance issues are another common problem. For example, a buyer might struggle to secure the necessary financing to complete the purchase, or there may be delays in the bank releasing the funds. It’s important to have your financing sorted as early as possible to avoid these types of issues.

Delays in Settlement

Finally, delays in settlement can occur for a variety of reasons, from banking errors to late documentation. These delays can be stressful and costly, so it’s crucial to stay on top of things and work closely with your conveyancer to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Choosing the Right Conveyancer

So, after all this, you might be wondering how to choose the right conveyancer for your needs. There are a few key factors to consider, and we’ll break them down for you.

Factors to Consider

When choosing a conveyancer, consider factors like their qualifications, experience, and communication skills. Look for a conveyancer who is fully licensed, has experience with the type of property you’re buying or selling, and who is clear and prompt in their communication. It’s also a good idea to ask for references or check reviews to see what past clients have to say.

Questions to Ask a Conveyancer

Before you engage a conveyancer, make sure to ask plenty of questions. These might include queries about their fees and charges, their process for handling the conveyancing, and how they’ll keep you informed throughout the process. This will help ensure you’re on the same page and that there are no unpleasant surprises down the track.

Finally, look for conveyancers who can provide case studies or real-world examples of their work. This can give you a better idea of how they operate and what you can expect if you choose to work with them. Remember, the right conveyancer can make all the difference in ensuring a smooth and successful property transaction.


So there you have it, mates. A comprehensive guide to the world of conveyancing in Australia. While it might seem a bit overwhelming at first, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. A qualified and experienced conveyancer can guide you through the process and handle the heavy lifting, leaving you to focus on the exciting parts of buying or selling a property. Remember to ask questions, stay informed, and don’t rush into anything without fully understanding what you’re signing up for. Happy buying (or selling)!

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