As a property buyer, there are many things you need to consider when doing a transaction settlement on a property. During the process, it is sometimes necessary for a buyer or a seller to obtain legal advice. A settlement agent (also called conveyancer) can advise you of the right questions to ask when viewing a property as a thorough property inspection can reveal any issues that should be addressed in the contract. Here are a few things you should know before hiring the services of a settlement agent.
Do I need a settlement agent or should I go directly to a solicitor?
Most transactions in Australia are handled by conveyancers who are not solicitors. This is not surprising when professional non-solicitor conveyancers have been recognised here for around 150 years. Conveyancers were often referred to as land-brokers in the past.
Will a settlement agent’s services be cheaper than a solicitor’s?
This is not exactly true. An important thing to keep in mind is that settlement agents and solicitors both provide specialist, professional advice and charge for their services accordingly. In most cases, the fees will reflect the complexity of the transaction; this is true whether you use a registered agent or a solicitor. The real difference is that conveyancers are specialists who work only in this area whereas solicitors work in many areas of the law. As with most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for. A registered conveyancer offers expert advice, professional service and peace of mind.
Does a settlement agent provide indemnity insurance?
Yes, all conveyancers who are members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers are required to be protected by professional indemnity insurance. This is to protect you, the consumer, in the unlikely event that something does go wrong. You can feel secure dealing with an AIC member.
Are there limits to what a settlement agent can do for me?
As a property owner, it is crucial to be able to understand what your conveyancer can, and can’t do for you. It is also important that you explain very clearly your position and your requirements. AIC members are encouraged to always use plain English, not complicated legal terms, so you understand exactly what is happening. You also need to tell your conveyancer of anything that may impact on the transaction. If you have severe financial restrictions, tight time limits, or any other specific concerns or special requirements, be sure you explain this at the very beginning. Nobody wants surprises or misunderstandings to ruin your transaction.
How should I best select my settlement agent?
Asking around or researching the internet for reliable specialists is always the best idea. You should also be thorough during your selection process. Here are a few things you should inquire about before settling with one conveyancer: – are they a member of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers, what are their fees and what exactly are they offering, will they provide additional services and at what cost, what government fees and charges will you need to pay?
I have a couple of agents that I use but when I have a question, my go-to settlement agency is Perth Settlement Agents WA. They provide an excellent service to me so feel free to give them a call if you would like to know any information that is not covered in this post.
As a buyer it is important that you are aware of all relevant facts and possible issues. A conveyancer will help you get all these things in order and more.
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