Lawyer vs Conveyancer: What’s the Difference?

Lawyer vs Conveyancer: What’s the Difference?

Written by Dixon & Sanders Lawyers on .

The difference between a lawyer and a conveyancer can be summed up in two words: specialisation and focus. A lawyer is typically more broadly focused on many aspects of the law, including contracts, subdivisions, wills, trusts, taxation, etc., while a conveyancer's main expertise lies within issues only related to the buying and selling of simple real estate transactions.

A key difference is that lawyers are regulated under legislated guidelines as determined by the relevant legal bodies in each jurisdiction. This requirement for regulation ensures high standards and ongoing proficiency in the practise of law. A conveyancer, on the other hand, may not necessarily require qualification or proof of depth of knowledge relating to case law or legislation, so long as they adhere to the legal requirements for conveyancing transactions in their state or territory.

Conveyancers are capable of drawing up documents associated with the sale and purchase of property; however, this does not mean that they can provide legal advice about the specific transaction itself. In some jurisdictions only a lawyer practising in certain areas may also work as a conveyancer. For instance, New South Wales requires all lawyers who wish to undertake conveyancing to pass an additional licencing course (real estate) and obtain certification from the Office of Fair Trading in order to do so.

Knowing when it is most advantageous to use one over the other will depend upon individual circumstances; if professional legal advice or representation is required on any matter then a lawyer should definitely be consulted. On the other hand, if you're looking for a transaction when engaging in activities related to a simple real estate transaction – such as signing contracts for an established property – then seeking out the services provided by a qualified conveyancer may be more suited to you.

As we move further into examining both roles further it's time to explore what services they offer and how they may intersect.

Professional Duties and Services

Professional duties and services are where the contrast between a conveyancer and lawyer really becomes evident. Conveyancers are licenced to provide legal work related to property transactions, such as settlements, transfers, mortgages and refinancing, as well as preparing documents for buyers and sellers in relation to these matters. Unlike lawyers, however, they cannot offer advice on broader issues associated with the transaction, like drafting Trust deeds or developing legal strategies for your purchase.

Lawyers play an integral role in property transactions, offering a complete suite of services beyond the scope of what a conveyancer can provide. They have a broad range of comprehensive capabilities and can draft contracts, assist with stamp duty issues and advise on possible taxation issues. They also have the advantage of being able to represent clients in court should there be any disputes or litigation resulting from buying a property.  Essentially, conveyancing is just one small component within the whole law process, whereas a lawyer will see all facets pertaining to a property purchase encompassing that range of conveyancing services too. With this in mind, it is important for purchasers to consider what their particular needs are to determine whether the expertise of a lawyer should be accessed.

In light of this distinction between the two parties, it is not hard to understand why it is imperative for homebuyers to understand their respective rights and responsibilities when entering into any contractual arrangements when buying property. To that end, understanding what obligations lie ahead when purchasing a property will be discussed in depth in the following section.

  • In Australia, a licenced conveyancer must have at least 18 months of full-time experience before they can be approved to legally practise as a conveyancer.
  • While lawyers are obligated to follow the rules set by their professional body, Australian professional standards for conveyancers are voluntary.

Rights and Responsibilities of Homebuyers

The rights and responsibilities of homebuyers come down to a matter of trust. It is up for debate whether buying a home with the assistance of a conveyancer or lawyer is more beneficial for homebuyers. Both professionals should meet their duty to deliver suitable assistance in understanding the contract that sets out what both parties agree to in the sale and purchase of the house.

On one hand, some people see a conveyancer as being better suited for understanding the basic details; whereas lawyers may include too much information in a contract because they tend to have greater focus on the legal aspects involved. Conveyancers, by contrast, spend their time obtaining documents, preparing paperwork, and other associated tasks related directly to buying and selling homes.

On the other hand, those in favour of using lawyers for property purchases believe that doing so gives additional security due to law practises having professional indemnity insurance policies which provide protection from claims arising from negligence or malpractice by both the lawyer and his/her staff. Moreover, dealing with lawyers opens avenues for further legal advice in case of potential disputes over property ownership or transfer down the line. Additionally, they are more adept at interpreting complex laws involving transactions rather than relying on conveyancing clerks who only do this type of work on an occasional basis.

Despite these differences between using a conveyancer or lawyer, securing accurate information is still key when it comes to homeownership. Providing the right level of diligence will help ensure buyers understand their obligations when approving any real estate transaction. Furthermore, home buyers should always be aware of potential risks involved in any agreement and make sure they are well-prepared before signing any relevant documents that bind them under contractual obligations.

In conclusion, regardless if you hire a conveyancer or a lawyer as your representative during your homebuying journey, having someone experienced in property law guiding you along will definitely help make sure you properly understand your rights and responsibilities. As homeownership is likely going to be one of most important decisions you will ever make, it is essential that you know exactly what documents you need and understand how all agreements associated with the sale should be read and interpreted correctly so it’s important to ensure you are getting reliable help in this matter. With that said it’s now time we take a look at just some of the common documents and agreements involved in real estate transactions.

Documents and Agreements

When deciding to purchase a home, documents and agreements play an important role. A conveyancer is responsible for handling documents and agreements pertaining to the transfer of title from one party to another, known as conveyancing. This may include dealing with a residential tenancy lease, discharge of mortgages, transfers of land titles, etc. Additionally, a lawyer can also handle documents and agreements related to other tasks, such as loan documentation or guarantee advice, which can not be done by a conveyancer.

Legal documentation is critical in protecting both the purchaser and vendor rights and interests when undertaking a property transaction. Furthermore, documentation provides evidence of an agreement that has been made between two parties involved in the transaction. This is why It is imperative that these documents are drafted properly - a misstep here can have significant consequences for all parties involved. In this sense, both conveyancers and lawyers bring something unique to the table: an understanding of relevant statutory laws and rules as well as expertise in different types of legal documents associated with property transfer transactions.

In general, it could be argued that both conveyancers and lawyers would be equally qualified to handle document preparation when purchasing a property; however, lawyers may have a greater depth of experience in certain types of documents due to their speciality knowledge acquired through years of practice. As such, Lawyers would typically be better placed to handle more complex legal matters.

Ultimately, deciding who should handle document preparation comes down to the specifics of each situation as different needs have various demands. While looking at all available options while deciding what’s best suited is always sensible, knowledge of pertinent legal frameworks will help ensure accuracy in any document preparation task - whether it falls upon the shoulders of a conveyancer or lawyer. Doing so will ensure the parties are protected during a property purchase transaction.

Having discussed the differences between the rights and responsibilities of homebuyers undertaken by either Conveyancers or Lawyers, it's now time to move on to look deeper into the specialisation of the skills held by Conveyancers vs Lawyers.

We cover more about what you need to know about conveyancing here.

Specialisation of the Skills of a Lawyer vs. a Conveyancer 

When discussing the differences between a conveyancer and a lawyer, their specialisations must be examined. A conveyancer typically focuses on the transfer of land, making them great for handling simple property settlements and contracts related to sale or purchase of real estate. Lawyers in comparison will normally specialise in different areas or types of law, with most private practise lawyers providing generalised legal services such as contracts, wills and family law.

On one side of the argument, there is an understanding that conveyancers are qualified in specific transactions related to acquiring and transferring land. This means that they may be more efficient in this particular area than a lawyer who specialises in other areas. On the other hand, lawyers have an immense knowledge of different areas which can pay dividends when it comes to more complex tasks involving more than one person or multiple entities where you might need a more comprehensive solution.  Regardless, you should seek out a lawyer that specialises in property transactions.

As an example; if you were after advice on selling your property and there is a trust involved, then a lawyer may be your best option since they are likely to be able to provide both advice as well as assist in navigating the complexities associated with trusts, especially Self Managed Super Fund Trusts. 

In conclusion, both lawyers and conveyancers offer unique services that can be applied depending on the situation at hand but it’s important to bear in mind that different skillsets should be consulted for different situations. With fees for services being an important consideration of any transaction, we now move on to examine this response in greater detail.

Fees Charged for Services

When it comes to fees charged for services, the differences between a conveyancer and a lawyer may be more noticeable. The cost of hiring a conveyancer is often much lower than hiring a lawyer due to their specialised skillset and the type of work they usually tackle. Victorian laws exist for Conveyancers and their costs. Conveyancers generally offer a flat fee service which covers the whole cost of the transaction.

Lawyers generally charge higher rates, usually based upon their years of experience and the complexity of the legal matter at hand. Hourly rates can range from as low as $350 an hour to upwards of $1,000 an hour in extreme cases. Lawyers, like conveyancers, may also provide a flat-rate service that covers all aspects of the legal transaction.

It is important for clients seeking legal advice to be aware that different lawyers may have different fee structures and levels of expertise, so it is worthwhile for them to do some research before making a decision about the best option for them. It is also important for them to remember that higher fees don't always guarantee better quality services; often it is price combined with expertise and reputation that makes up a person's decision when choosing a lawyer or conveyancer.

Choosing between a lawyer and a conveyancer is ultimately determined by individual needs and circumstances, including budgets. Understanding how each specialist charges fees helps individuals make informed decisions and ensures they are getting value for money. When it comes down to estate planning matters such as wills and Power of Attorney appointments, having access to expertise from both disciplines can provide peace of mind knowing you have chosen the best possible option for you.

Responses to Common Questions with Explanations

In what situations is it better to use a conveyancer compared to a lawyer?

It might be better to use a conveyancer instead of a lawyer in situations where the legal task at hand is relatively simple and straightforward. This is because conveyancers cost less and solely deal in property transactions. On the other hand, if a situation involves complex legal work (such as Trusts or Off the Plan purchases) or requires detailed advice, it is better to go with a lawyer. Lawyers have a wider array of expertise which allows them to better advise their clients on elements such as trust funds and contract negotiation.

What types of tasks are typically handled by a conveyancer?

A conveyancer specialises in the transfer of real estate. They are responsible for completing all paperwork and overseeing the entire purchase process on behalf of their clients. Their tasks typically include preparing necessary documents, providing information to clients, researching title to ensure the property is free of any encumbrances (e.g. mortgages), dealing with relevant government paperwork related to the transfer, and keeping track of settlement dates and payments.

All of this and more can be undertaken by a property lawyer who practises conveyancing.

What qualifications or experience is required for a property lawyer?

In order to become a lawyer, you must have a minimum of a law degree or equivalent experience and qualifications. Depending on the country and jurisdiction, additional qualifications such as professional certificates or specialist diplomas may be required.

The best property lawyers are not only well-versed in the law related to real estate transactions, but also have considerable knowledge of contracts and planning rules related to property transactions. Therefore, an understanding of commercial and residential leasing is essential for successful conveyancing.

In addition to educational qualifications, a good amount of industry experience and knowledge is also necessary to practise property law. Knowledgeable property lawyers must be able to accurately interpret legal documents and provide sound legal advice to clients. It is also important for them to take every possible risk into consideration in order to ensure a smooth transaction for their clients.

To sum up, being an effective property lawyer requires a combination of education, experience, and legal knowledge regarding property transactions. Most lawyers have at least some form of law degree or equivalent qualification in order to understand the ins and outs of legally enforceable land rights and obligations involved in property transactions.

If you are wanting to speak to someone about your conveyancing or property issue please contact Lynda at Dixon Sanders Lawyers today.
Dixon & Sanders Lawyers are based in South Kingsville, Victoria. We provide services in the Conveyancing, Wills & Estate Planning Leasing, Business Sales & Acquisitions space.

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