Buying and selling property is expensive. There’s stamp duty, bank fees and conveyancing costs to consider. It’s understandable why you may contemplate whether you can do your own Conveyancing to save some money. There are many reasons why you should not. Before you decide to DIY conveyancing, it’s worth asking yourself two questions: Can I do my own conveyancing? Should I DIY conveyancing?
Can you DIY conveyancing?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is probably not. It is possible to do your own conveyancing in Victoria, at least for the moment. Conveyancing involves completing a wide range of tasks including:
- Reviewing the contract for sale and negotiating it if required
- Making sure the building has had all its necessary inspections
- If the property is an apartment, reviewing the strata inspection report (for NSW properties)
- Arranging finance and reviewing the finance contract
- Making sure the deposit, stamp duty and any other costs are paid on time or identifying if you are eligible for any Victoria stamp duty exemptions
- Completing all the relevant property and land title searches
- Making sure the property meets all state and local council laws and regulations
- Conducting searches to see if there are any planning or development proposals or if there is a section 173 agreement in place
- Identifying if there are any disputes happening that may affect the property
- Apportioning the rates and outgoings between the parties
- Liaising with the lender and stakeholders to book in a mutually convenient time for settlement
- Providing all necessary documents to certify the loan documentation
- Making sure the land title transfer has been completed correctly
- Checking the property before settlement
- Completing the settlement and making sure all the documents and cheques have been lodged correctly
If you feel confident that you understand all of these things and know what’s involved then you may be ready for do it yourself conveyancing. But before you do, consider whether you should.
Here are 4 reasons and real-life examples why taking on the DIY conveyancing process isn’t always a great idea.
1. It’s not a level playing field
If the other party to the transaction is using a property law specialist then they will be receiving advice that you will not. This may automatically place you at a disadvantage, particularly if there are little points in the contract that you missed during the negotiation, if something goes wrong during your DIY property settlement or if the law changes. If you don’t have expert advice behind you, it’s quite possible that what you don’t know may end up costing you a lot more than you save in conveyancing fees.
For example, a buyer who was self conveyancing read the contract incorrectly. They thought they could delay settlement if the property wasn’t clean. But the contract actually said that the property settlement should be completed first and the parties could resolve any disputes after settlement. Because the buyer delayed settlement, the seller charged them penalties for the delay and the buyer had to pay it.
2. The devil is in the detail
Don’t underestimate how many documents, forms, deadlines and fine details are involved in buying or selling a property. If you don’t know what is a duties form from a section 32, you may leave an important step out. Each step in the conveyancing process includes intricate details and it can be easy to overlook something important.
For example, a person who was selling their property didn’t include a certificate that they needed to as part of the section 32 preparation. The buyer noticed some damage to the property and said that the seller had to repair it. The seller validly argued that the damage was pre-existing and so it was not their responsibility. The buyer had organised a section 32 review and discovered that the seller hadn’t included the missing certificate. The seller’s failure to include all of the necessary documents in the section 32 meant that the purchaser was able to demand they repair the property. They also threatened to terminate the contract . Forgetting to provide one document left the seller exposed and almost cost them the entire sale. If you overlook important legal requirements, you may find yourself on the wrong end of an expensive lawsuit.
3. It costs you time
If you’re working hard or kid wrangling, it can be difficult to find extra hours in the day to just pack your moving boxes let alone manage the conveyancing. While you may save some money, it’s likely that you’ll pay for the DIY conveyancing in late nights and lost lunch hours. And if you’ve never done conveyancing before, getting yourself up to speed with what needs to be done will mean that it takes you a lot longer to do than if you used a professional who does this type of thing every day.
4. Technology is changing everything
New technology has been introduced that is taking conveyancing in Victoria online. The platform that is used is called PEXA, and by August 2019 using it will be mandatory. The new technology makes conveyancing quicker and can spare you from making unnecessary and expensive mistakes.
From August 2019, only registered practitioners in Victoria can access the online system that must be used for conveyancing. While you can do your own conveyancing for a little while longer, soon DIY conveyancing will become a thing of the past.
While it may seem like a good idea at the time, there are many buyers and sellers who now regret doing DIY home sales. Buying and selling property is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever do, so it makes good sense to ensure you get it right.