It can be one of the most undervalued parts of the home buying or selling process, but conveyancing services are vital to ensure all parties get the result they are after.
Fair Trading NSW states conveyancing is "the legal work involved in preparing the sales contract, mortgage and other related documents".
Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division CEO Chris Tyler said, while it may sound simple, the process of carrying out the searches and inquiries required to complete a purchase could be very complicated.
Who can do it?
Conveyancing can be carried out by a solicitor or a licenced conveyancer.
While it is technically possible to do your own conveyancing, professionals warned it may be risky to do so. Mr Tyler said all conveyancing was now carried out via an electronic platform which allowed conveyancers, lawyers and financial institutions to work through the process in collaboration.
What do they look for?
Conveyancers will be looking for documents that are relevant to the sale.
This includes a wide variety of searches and documents, including examining the contract, looking at any encroachments or illegal building activity, checking for swimming pool compliance, examining strata reports, finding out if any government authority has a development planned that could impact on the property, checking for unpaid fees and rates, and completing other checks.
Why do so many searches? To protect you, Mr Tyler said.
Mr Tyler said in rural areas as well cities, illegal use of premises could be an issue.
"You may have a property in which a granny flat has been used illegally, as it has not been zoned for that use," he said.
"Those little things can come up and bring the whole thing unstuck."
The conveyancer's role can include arranging building and pest inspections and arranging finance if necessary. They will arrange to exchange the contract of sale, paying the deposit and oversee the change of title with Land and Property Information NSW.
What do I need to provide?
Be prepared to show formal identification documents (passport, driver's licence or other identity documents) as part of the check process. Mr Tyler said this can present a problem to members of the older generation, some of whom have never held a passport and may no longer have a licence.
If you are selling, bring along all documentation to show alterations made to the property while you have owned it have had the proper approvals.
If buying in NSW, you will need to prove you are not a foreign resident.
Charges vary depending on the complexity of the sale, but you can call and ask for an estimate before the process begins.
"If you are particularly fee conscious, you could ring around," Mr Tyler said.
Mr Tyler said, in terms of risk to reward ratio, it was a very affordable part of the process.
While real estate agents netted sometimes tens of thousands of dollars with every sale, and mortgage brokers a significant fee, he said conveyancers handling the legal formalities and all the liabilities that entailed charged significantly less.
How can I find one?
A licenced conveyancer can be found by searching on the Australian Institute of Conveyancers NSW Division website or through the Law Society NSW website. Alternatively, local conveyancers and solicitors will have contact details available online.
Word of mouth is also a great tool. Did a friend have a great experience with a local provider? Ask around for some first-hand advice.