What I DIDN’T know about Real Estate Conveyancing

Recently, I bought a house in rural Beechmont. As the writer for www.pestbuildlegals.com.au, I used this purchase as a genuine opportunity to test our services, as a real buyer. You see, in some ways, it’s like poker. If you are playing for fake money, you are not really playing poker. This time, I was playing for real. You can read all about my experience finding my own pest build and legals here

There is no substitute for experience 

I have written extensively about all things pre-purchase pest and building inspections, the general state of the real estate market, and of course legal conveyancing. However, when you are buying the house yourself, i.e. personally making one of the biggest investments you have ever made, it’s a wee bit nerve-wracking.  The experience gave me insights that I hadn’t appreciated before.

Comparing legal services can seem difficult. 

The problem with conveyancing services is you could argue that they will ultimately do the same thing: They facilitate the legal process of transferring ownership of the title of the property and/or land to the new owner. In doing so, they take care of all the legal and paperwork aspects throughout the settlement process. They will communicate with the seller’s lawyers and generally see to it that all forms are completed and dates for settlement are adhered to, as well as see to any amendments that might be required. 

Compare service not price

When you compare services that seem identical on paper, it is tempting to make a decision based on price. Do not do this. I repeat. Buying property is likely one of the most significant investments in your life. Get the right people on board. I had three offers for legal conveyancing. Some were solely real estate conveyancers, the others were solicitors. Now, you can read about the difference between conveyancers and solicitors here.  

In my case, I went with solicitors. Firstly they were the first ones who called after I had entered my details into www.pestbuildlegals.com.au. I think it always looks good when a business contacts you shortly after your enquiry. They also sounded friendly and relaxed and explained the whole team was there to help me.  Another conveyancer simply sent me a text message with their costs attached and a link to their online portal for me to 'enter my details' before a call.  However, they were also about $500 cheaper. I replied to the text if I could arrange a call first, a few hours later,  I received a call from someone that had that energy of someone tying off loose ends after a long day of dealing with other things.  

Now, I am not saying that paying more always equates to better service, but I am saying that it allows for it to exist. If someone charges only $700 for conveyancing services, they are unlikely to take to time nor have the breadth of resources to offer you the best service. It may be good, but unlikely great. 

A brick and mortar business is not necessary, but can be very convenient when buying a home

The solicitor's office I used invited us into their offices in town,  and are open every day from 8 am. Every time I called - the phone was answered. When we needed multiple important documents like passports and driving licenses authorised and witnessed, they had the legal authority to do it then and there, complete with scanners and printers. (Surprisingly to us, there are many things that you still can not just do 100% digitally, and buying a house is one of them). 

Having a team at the end of the line is worth paying extra for

At first, I was concerned to find myself lost in a big team of legal experts that didn't care about us. However, this was not the case. All the team at this firm knew about our purchase. If you called, 90% of the time any one of them could confidently answer your legal questions. 

Any question or query we had they were at the end of the phone. Now, imagine if you are having doubts or worries about something to do with your home purchase, and you couldn't consistently get on the phone with your conveyancer?  This never happened to us. 

Speed and efficiency reduce the time for worry, and for 'changes of heart' 

When we asked for a price reduction following the return of our pest and building inspections, our legal team sent a letter off that day to the vendor's representatives, and this was agreed upon within 24 hours. This happened so quick that I realised speed reduces the time for worry.  If someone agrees to a price reduction (in our case 5K), then you want to get that confirmed in writing as soon as possible whilst everyone is in a good mood!   

Legal advice costs, but asking is free

Having a solicitor on hand was helpful to quickly answer questions we had around different legal matters not directly related to the buying of the home, but relevant to us no the less! For e.g. I had questions about my last will and testament, which they answered openly, without cost.  

Ask them how they are different, and go with someone you like

The overall takeaway is always to ask what they offer above and beyond. The easiest and less confronting way I find is to ask them what differentiates them from other providers? And to me, this differentiation begins when you get on the phone with them.  I had a great unpressured chat with my solicitor and felt that he genuinely cared about us and our venture. Following that, I was pleased to have a steady and confident hand in this process that collectively made the whole transaction less stressful and more pleasant.  In the end, we were so happy that not he got our business and left a heartfelt, five-star review on google, which you can read here.  

Written by Ben Saravia,  

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