Conveyancing 101

  • What is conveyancing?

    Conveyancing is the term used to describe the legal process of transferring ownership of property. This involves such things as the preparation and lodgement of legal documents, verification of identities and settlement of funds.

  • What is a conveyancer?

    A conveyancer is a licensed and qualified professional that handles the conveyancing process on your behalf. They liaise with all the relevant parties, conduct property related research and prepare and lodge all documentation to ensure the settlement of the property runs smoothly.

  • What do conveyancers do?

    • Prepare and lodge documents relating to your property. E.g. contract
    • Liaise with relevant parties on your behalf to ensure conveyancing process is smooth and successful.
    • Conduct appropriate research and do relevant searches on your property e.g. title searches, government taxes etc.
    • Handling of deposit money and ensure safe keeping.
    • Calculate adjustments for the property e.g. rates, water, taxes.
    • Physically attend settlement on your behalf and advise when the property is settled.
    • If you are the seller, a conveyancer will represent your interests by ensuring all documentation is ready and responding to questions or requests from the purchaser on your behalf.
  • Should I hire a conveyancer or solicitor?

    It is really a personal choice. Both solicitors and conveyancers are amply qualified to handle property conveyancing. Please note that Queensland legislation requires that only solicitors can act as conveyancers. There is no allowance for licenced conveyancers to operate in Queensland.

  • At what point in time should I consult a Conveyancer?

    Selling a property: When selling a property you should choose a conveyancer or solicitor as soon as the decision is made to sell. A conveyancer/solicitor can have the vendor documents prepared to ensure the quickest possible transaction. Hiring early ensures that you allow ample time for all documentation to be prepared before offers begin coming in.

    Buying a property: When buying a property it is a good practice to choose a conveyancer early and have the research on the property conducted and documents reviewed before making an offer. Hiring a conveyancing professional early also allows time to get proper inspections done and clarification provided on any unclear documents ahead of time.

  • Why does it cost more for conveyancing when buying rather than selling a property?

    Buying a property sometimes requires more comprehensive searches and research, so a greater amount of work is involved, thus the fees for conveyancing when buying a property can sometimes be higher than when selling.

  • What costs are involved with conveyancing?

    Generally the fees for conveyancing are split into two parts: professional service fees and disbursements. Professional service fees are the fees you pay for the expertise of the solicitor or conveyancer and for their time and effort in research and preparing the documents required for conveyance.

    Disbursements are costs paid on your behalf by the professional you choose to hire to third parties. Make sure the quote you receive gives you an indication of the cost range for disbursements so you are not hit with a massive unexpected bill. The reason a cost range is given in many cases rather than an exact cost is that every authority charges different amounts for different searches and it is very difficult to gauge exactly how much a search will cost before it is ordered. Your conveyancer or solicitor will generally either quote you a professional service fee plus disbursements (for which an accurate expected cost range will be given) or give you an all-inclusive figure (inclusive of disbursements).

    Disbursements can include:

    • Various types of searches - title, pipes and drainage systems, council certificates, land taxes, council rates, water, roads and construction etc.
    • Settlement fees
    • Other Costs

Disbursements Explained

  • What is a disbursement?

    In addition to the professional service fee charged by your conveyancer you may also see that they have indicated that their price includes or does not include “disbursements.” A disbursement is a cost incurred by your conveyancing professional on your behalf in the process of the conveyance. This cost is passed directly onto you. This cost may be directly what the conveyancing professional pays or may have an additional mark up.

  • What are some examples of common disbursements?

    Disbursements often include:

    • Title searches
    • Water and or council rates searches
    • Drainage diagrams
    • Settlement agent fees (If the conveyancing professional uses a settlement agent instead of attending the settlement themselves)
    • Environmental searches
  • Why can't my conveyancing professional give me a set price for disbursements?

    The requirements in a conveyance of property vary from property to property, thus your conveyancing professional needs to have a full understanding of the transaction before they can provide this information. Further, costs for searches can vary between councils and government authorities throughout Australia, so a conveyancer cannot know how much a particular search/disbursement will cost until they perform the search. Therefore it is almost impossible to provide a solid figure for the cost of disbursements in the early stages of a transaction.

  • What are searches?

    In the process of a conveyance, a conveyancing professional needs to conduct due diligence. This involves checking with the various councils and government authority registers for anything about the property that may be restrictive or adversely affect the property transaction in general. The councils and various other government authorities charge to provide this information and therefore the cost of these are passed onto the consumer. In general, conveyancing professionals should be able to provide you with a rough estimate of how much you should expect to pay for disbursements. Property searches help to uncover the following:

    • Any monies owing on the property.
    • Encumbrances on the title of the property e.g. a mortgage against the property.
    • Easements allowing another party to use parts of the property for utilities such as electricity, water, gas or telecommunications.
    • Any covenants (rules) that restrict property use e.g. design and building requirements for houses in a particular estate.
  • Why are some searches ordered by certain conveyancers and not others?

    This is at the discretion of the conveyancing professional. One conveyancer/solicitor may choose to conduct a particular search whereas another may not believe that search is entirely necessary for the property in question. It is usually a balancing act between both saving money for the client and conducting the appropriate amount of due diligence.

  • Are sundry costs the same as disbursements?

    Yes. Sundries are out of pocket expenses such as photocopying, faxes, stamps etc. Some conveyancers/solicitors charge these as disbursements, while others will have it included in the professional services fee.

Conveyancing Process


Questions to ask your Conveyancer

This question helps you get on the same page as your conveyancer about communication from the very start.

Logistical decisions such as organising movers is easier when you are aware of timeframes.

Obviously there are several standard costs that come along with selling real estate. But sometimes extra costs/fees can be added/accrued by conveyancers. Asking about this should give you a heads up if costs are expected to be added along the way.

Everybody wants the settlement to go as smoothly as possible. Knowing early on if there is anything you need to do will give you ample time to do them, ensuring the settlement is not held up unexpectedly by something that you could have had completed long before.

In some businesses your file may be handled by multiple people within the business. In smaller firms, the conveyancer or solicitor you speak with should be the single point of contact.

Licensed practitioners have indemnity insurance, as well as a several years of education and experience already behind them. All conveyancers featured on our website are licensed.


Glossary