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DIY Conveyancing in Canberra (house sale)

By 3 February 2014 34

I’ll be selling my house soon and am really considering doing conveyancing on my own. The cost of putting the house on the market is huge, and while I can’t avoid paying for advertising and building/compliance/pest/EER report, I could have a go at conveyancing to save about $1,000.

If anyone’s done it, please post as much details as you can.

This is what I know so far:

- purchase Contract for sale from the ACT Law Society (2 copies @ $25 each)

- obtain building/compliance/pest/EER report (up to $900)

- lease conveyancing from ACTPLA – not sure if this is the same thing as title search

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34 Responses to DIY Conveyancing in Canberra (house sale)
#1
erkel12:13 pm, 03 Feb 14

The thing is, if you stuff it up, you can get sued, so find a cheap conveyancer and let them deal with it. There are deals around for about $700. Its a few hours work when you know what you are doing, many more when you don’t. Time is money.

#2
LegalNut12:51 pm, 03 Feb 14

I can’t provide advice on the process but remember that the buyer will reimburse all costs for the building reports so don’t worry about finding the cheapest one, just find the provider you like.

#3
schmeah8:54 pm, 03 Feb 14

erkel said :

The thing is, if you stuff it up, you can get sued, so find a cheap conveyancer and let them deal with it. There are deals around for about $700. Its a few hours work when you know what you are doing, many more when you don’t. Time is money.

I would strongly suggest you don’t do it yourself. Being sued is a real possibility. And as for seeking out a cheap option, don’t. A colleague of mine did this, the whole process took months, and months. Contact with the conveyancing agent was almost non existent and in the end the vendor nearly pulled out… Though, I would too if the buyer’s agent was jerking me around for 3 or so months. Spend the money, $1000 in the process of selling your property is not much to pay for peace of mind.

#4
apis9:14 pm, 03 Feb 14

Thanks guys, yeah I’m aware of the reimbursement for reports and the fact I can stuff up something. But I would like to know where I can stuff up, what is it that I could get wrong that could cost me later. I definitely won’t go into this if I’m not confident that I can do it properly… so in the meantime I reckon it is ok to continue research and maybe we can come up with a reliable guide for Canberrans.

Here’s some more info…

Docs for contract:

Crown Lease of the land – $25 (ORS)
Current edition of the certificate of title for the crown lease (title search)- $25 (ORS)
Deposited plan for the land – $20 (ORS)

Lease conveyancing inquiry documents for property – $82.60 (ACTPLA)

Asbestos advice

Reimbursed by the buyer ($800-$900), if sold!:
EER Statement
Building and compliance inspection reports (includes building conveyancing inquiry documents – the inspector orders this from ACTPLA)
Pest information report

Then, exchange of contracts:

• Send one copy of completed contract to buyer’s solicitor
• Write to my bank and ask how much to pay off my mortgage at settlement date (this is probably roughly because settlement date is negotiated a bit later)
• Answer questions from buyers solicitor (Section XX)
• Receive signed contract
• Sign second copy and send to buyer’s solicitor
• Determine settlement date

Settlement Statement:
Shows the amount the buyer needs to pay (you work it out and send to buyer’s solicitor – sale price less deposit, ± balance for rates, land tax, actewagl)

Memorandum of Transfer (MoT) – receive from buyer’s solicitor
• Sign, return to buyer’s solicitor
• Receive back – stamped

Settlement
• Buyer, buyer’s solicitor,gives me bank cheques
• Buyer gives me authority to RE agent to pay me deposit
• I give bank cheques to my bank
• My bank will arrange to have the mortgage noted as discharged on my certificate of title
• I give the Cert of Title to buyer
• I give stamped MoT to buyer
• I give Discharge of Mortgage to buyer
• I give keys to buyer

Anyone can fill in any holes?

#5
apis9:20 pm, 03 Feb 14

Forgot to say that Contract for Sale comes from ACT Law Society, 2 copies @ $25 each. lol
So out of pocket expense is $200, instead of at least 1,000 … dunno, is it worth it? I heard some stories that even if you’re doing it through a conveyancer and something goes wrong, you still need to hire a solicitor, so you’re on your own anyway.

#6
djk11:05 pm, 03 Feb 14

I pity the person that buys your house, because not only will their have to pay their solicitor fees, they will likely have to pay for the large amount of time their solicitor spends holding your hand so that you can save “$800″. Also for a decent solicitor it will probably be more like $1800 all up.

FYI there are no “conveyancers” in the ACT – all conveyancing work must be done under a solicitor’s name/firm/certificate.

While you have got most of the basics outlined, there is a lot more to do than just connecting the dots.

#7
wooster12:09 am, 04 Feb 14

apis said :

Forgot to say that Contract for Sale comes from ACT Law Society, 2 copies @ $25 each. lol
So out of pocket expense is $200, instead of at least 1,000 … dunno, is it worth it? I heard some stories that even if you’re doing it through a conveyancer and something goes wrong, you still need to hire a solicitor, so you’re on your own anyway.

I dont want to come across the wrong way, Apis, but I think you’re missing the point entirely.

Conveyancing is a potentially complex matter. There is a reason why some of us spent 5yrs+ at uni to become qualified to do the work. Yeah some of it is grunt work, but much of what you are paying for is expertise and, in fact, professional indemnity insurance for any stuff ups they are responsible for.

Frankly if you’re selling your house yourself, you’re actually going to save far more, arguably from an agent that doesnt have such a significantly different level of expertise in their area of work, as compared with the difference between yourself and a professional conveyancer.

The risk of getting it wrong is real, and the consequences can be costly. Put the countless hours of research you would otherwise put into the conveyancing and focus it on the sale. Or the move. Or on a rock collection. Anything but the conveyancing.

A good analogy would be someone with no mechanics experience suggesting they will change their brakepads completely unassisted – you might get it right, but its not worth the risk and hassle.

As an aside, even though I could manage a conveyancing on my own behalf, I would actually just stump up and have someone elses ass on the line for it, rather than putting myself at risk.

#8
NoImRight10:23 am, 04 Feb 14

Just.Dont. I spent years doing this stuff as part of a bigger job and its just not worth the few bucks you ,actually wont, save. Have you worked out how long just getting around to put all these documents together will take? Do you know what you are looking at on them? What if your buyer pulls out after signing will you also be the one enforcing your no doubt immaculate contract?

As said above some poor solicitors secretary will end up doing all your work as well. Then bitching to her boss who will bill his customer. I know how it feels Ive done it. My favourite being sitting in a solicitors office for a settlement in NSW. He was using the new Linen Plan as a coaster for his coffee. When you know why thats funny you are ready to have a go at your own. ;-)

#9
curmudgery10:31 am, 04 Feb 14

To me, DIY conveyancing is like driving to Queanbeyan to buy toilet paper because it’s ‘On Special’.

And you don’t want to get home and find that your finger goes straight through it.

#10
zorro2911:06 am, 04 Feb 14

I wouldn’t recommend DIY conveyancing…hire a solicitor preferably (approx $1000-1500 to rep you through the whole process). There are lawyers who just do conveyancing for around $700-$900 but I heard they aren’t good if things go awry/complications occur.

It seems like a big expense but really it’s small potatoes to protect yourself. A good solicitor is well worth that investment.

I sold my own house (after an agent messed up)…fortunately it’s pretty easy in Canberra. Here is what you can expect (approx) so budget accordingly and be flexible about it remembering that you’re saving $10k+ on RE fees depending on the price of your house:
- Lawyer $1000
- Advertising on allhomes $700 (compile a good statement and photos)
- Photographs (get them done professionally – worth it) $500
- Inspection $950 (this will be reimbursed by the buyer on sale)

Then run a couple of open houses and make sure you do your research and price realistically. Sometimes chatting to an agent is good for that and costs nothing.

Yeah but I would recommend a lawyer.

#11
dtc12:37 pm, 04 Feb 14

Actually the biggest risk in selling a house is stuffing up the settlement statement or forgetting to get the right documents at the right time (eg discharge) or not getting the cheques right and delaying the settlement…or being unable to complete the settlement when required and being sued. The buyer’s solicitor cant help you wish this because s/he wont know what is required.

The documents themselves are not particularly complicated and, in any event, its the buyer who is at risk so will check those for you.

The risk is not that you will do something wrong, its that you wont know what you are meant to be doing. What happens if the buyer is also self represented, could be a disaster…

(NSW is much much more complicated, I would never suggest anyone do a NSW conveyance on their own).

To save money, sell the house yourself without an agent. Pay for the lawyer.

Unless something goes awry, of course.

#12
Grrrr1:58 pm, 04 Feb 14

So are you selling privately?

I’ve sold privately twice,saving $6-12k. Was still happy to pay the $1k for the solicitors to do the conveyancing. Allhomes fees at $1.5k are becoming extortionate for private sellers.. I’m assuming an Allhomes listing is a lot cheaper for Agents, and would be curious to hear rumours of current agent pricing.

All we need is Allhomes – and a strong competitor to Allhomes to keep the prices down!

#13
djk7:56 pm, 04 Feb 14

Grrrr said :

I’m assuming an Allhomes listing is a lot cheaper for Agents, and would be curious to hear rumours of current agent pricing.

All we need is Allhomes – and a strong competitor to Allhomes to keep the prices down!

$875 for the allhomes ad according to the agent’s invoice sitting on my desk.

#14
apis8:15 pm, 04 Feb 14

First of all, I respect all responses, different people – different opinions.I had no intention of having a go at conveyancing industry, hence these somewhat hostile responses from people from the industry are unnecessary. I understand that everyone likes talking big about their profession, but there are limits. As an accountant, I could say that no one else is able to do a tax return, but that would be incorrect. With a proper research literally anyone can do it, even those complex ones. However, the more complex it is, the more research is required.

So, can I suggest that we take constructive approach, rather than trying to impose ‘fear of the dark’ on people? All ‘conveyancers’ warned about ‘real risks’ but no one gave 1 example. Actually, there was one – settlement statement. Surely that can scare someone who doesn’t know what it is, but come on guys, it requires basic mathematical skills.

Yes, things can go wrong, one big risk that I see is that settlement fails. I’m not saying that I’d be able to enforce the contract, for that I would need a solicitor, for something like that I would have to pay extra anyway because it is not covered by the standard price.

#15
apis8:32 pm, 04 Feb 14

Grrr – allhomes ad now costs $1595, which is outrageous. For agents it is about $800.
We never needed allhomes, realestate.com was fine.

#16
itsallme9:58 pm, 04 Feb 14

Ok apis, this will come across as rude. That’s not my intention I’m just being blunt. Here are some things that come to mind without going in to depth.

You don’t have a trust account and aren’t using an agent (it appears as you are checking out allhomes) or solicitor, so there’s nowhere for the deposit to go besides the buyers solicitor, not ideal.

You will probably not complete the law society contract correctly and will lose rights if so.

Exchange does not occur as you have described unless the buyers solicitor is interstate, they happen face to face at the settlements room. Whilst you will have no trouble getting to the room you will not know the process of exchange. You could get taken advantage of here.

The process regarding the Transfer you have described is correct for NSW, but not ACT.

If you have not done a settlement statement before or seen one, you will get it wrong. Not because you have incorrectly used basic maths but will probably either miss things or not draw cheques required.

Settlements all happen in one room and if you are not familiar with the process there it is daunting and confusing. The process you have detailed is not correct.

If you get something wrong you could lose money, or a sale.

In the end, things will ‘probably’ work out, the buyers solicitor will end up fixing your mistakes or doing your job, but it will probably go through. If things go bad they can go really bad, with what is probably your biggest asset.

I know solicitors with years of experience in law, even commercial transactions, but they are smart enough to hire a solicitor who knows what they are doing and don’t try to ‘dabble’ in conveyancing.

That said if you want to do it yourself, it’s your house, so good luck.

#17
apis11:07 pm, 04 Feb 14

itsallme – no, it’s not rude, in fact that’s what I call a constructive feedback as opposed to the previous hollow scare campaign. Thank you for that, you presented some concrete obstacles, most of which I would work out without anyone’s, and especially buyer’s solicitor’s, help. Some things would confuse me, indeed, like the process of exchange, maybe the transfer and probably something during settlement. But for settlement statement I guarantee no errors at my end.

#18
el11:15 pm, 04 Feb 14

Excellent input from itsallme above.

Just to add to that, how much is your time really worth?

While I can understand trying to save a few bucks by hiring your own truck and handling the move yourself, I can’t really understand taking such risks (either being sued or the sale completely falling through) with the legal complexities of selling your most valuable asset.

#19
thatsnotme11:24 pm, 04 Feb 14

Grrrr said :

All we need is Allhomes – and a strong competitor to Allhomes to keep the prices down!

Ha! I think it’s pretty funny that Allhomes “All you need is Allhomes” campaign was so successful, that they felt the need to change it to “All you need is Allhomes (and a good agent!)”

#20
dtc9:59 am, 05 Feb 14

apis said :

itsallme – no, it’s not rude, in fact that’s what I call a constructive feedback as opposed to the previous hollow scare campaign. Thank you for that, you presented some concrete obstacles, most of which I would work out without anyone’s, and especially buyer’s solicitor’s, help. Some things would confuse me, indeed, like the process of exchange, maybe the transfer and probably something during settlement. But for settlement statement I guarantee no errors at my end.

Have you seen a settlement statement? You know how to calculate rates rebates or credits, electricity, sewerage, land title cheques (and for how much) and so forth?

Admittedly, if you are lucky and the buyer has a good solicitor, the figures will be checked.

Mate, you want to do it yourself. You have been told that its more complicated than it appears but, yes, you can probably muddle your way through and probably nothing will go wrong other than a bit of delay or stress on your part. And probably you wont get sued.

I’m not a conveyancer by the way, I have no self interest in this whatsoever.

#21
djk10:19 am, 05 Feb 14

apis said :

But for settlement statement I guarantee no errors at my end.

Happy to take this bet – even money?

Your tax return analogy is horrible – a tax return is done annually so lay-people have quite a bit of experience in it, it is the same nation-wide, it can be changed or amended if you muck something up, the tax office is not looking to exploit every tiny mistake you make in your tax return, and it is basically filling in one form which tells you exactly what to do and has a huge FAQ to help you out. Also your likely biggest asset is not on the line if you stuff up your tax return (for the vast majority anyway).

As said above, if you do it yourself, there is probably a good chance the buyer’s solicitor will help you out and it will get done ok. The problem comes when there is an issue with the contract and you have a buyer or their solicitor looking to take advantage of that – you can’t simply go back and “fix” a contract after it is legally binding and say “oh sorry, I didn’t have a solicitor acting for me”.

The reason no-one has given you specific examples of things that could go wrong is because the issues are complex and would probably go over the head of someone without practical conveyancing experience. To elaborate a little, an issue with a settlement statement or a settlement falling over is nothing.

I am not saying this to protect the dark art of conveyancing. It is just some advice despite the fact that you don’t seem to want to hear it. No-one is going to post a how-to guide for you as it is simply not that easy.

And to dtc, disagree strongly about NSW conveyancing being much more complicated. ACT and NSW are very similar unless you are talking about the <1% of matters which are old system.

#22
Maya12310:51 am, 05 Feb 14

djk said :

1% of matters which are old system.

What would belong in the “old system”?

#23
NoImRight11:53 am, 05 Feb 14

Maya123 said :

djk said :

1% of matters which are old system.

What would belong in the “old system”?

Not much now as most would have had a transaction to at least make them qualified titles by now. Not worth the average person worrying about.

I used to love old law settlements. Lost of work but some of the documenation was fascinating. Plus watching young solicitors who know it all sitting in the room glassy eyed with no idea. :-)

#24
dtc11:56 am, 05 Feb 14

djk said :

And to dtc, disagree strongly about NSW conveyancing being much more complicated. ACT and NSW are very similar unless you are talking about the <1% of matters which are old system.

As I said, not a conveyancer. But as I understood from my personal conveyance many years ago (not done by me!), NSW has more reports to be obtained – s49? certificates, land subsidence, mining, easements roads etc all held by different authorities – to be obtained and then understood. Although perhaps this is no longer the case.

Whereas in the ACT, everything in on the certificate of title. If its not on the title deed, then it has no validity. And all you need to get is the house report (plus perhaps a search of any nearby developments to make sure you dont get a monstrosity next door).

But the actual system is the same, of course.

#25
watto2312:04 pm, 05 Feb 14

I personally value my own hours when considering things like this. I can’t for the life of me understand why more people don’t actually put a price on their own time.

ie you say you can save $800, but do you know how many hours of work it will be for you. IMO if it was more than say 8-10 hours which would be most likely, its not worth my time to waste doing it.

I use the same rule for labourers. Ie I laid my own Bamboo flooring, because the cost of getting it laid was $2000 and I considered the 12 hours of laying it worth a decent saving. I usually work on $100 to save me an hour as a basis.

Note this isn’t about earning more money its just about saving me time in general life to do things I’d rather be doing. I certainly don’t earn close to $100 an hour either, but thats what I value my time at. You may consider $50 a decent amount to save you an hour.

Take that into account and your savings suddenly are even less worth the DIY conveyancing approach.

#26
Scrumpox1:09 pm, 05 Feb 14

Pay someone to do it. I sold a house to a dude who claimed his ‘sister’ was a law student and would be doing the conveyancing on the property. Turned out it was actually him trying to save a few bucks and he would would turn up at my solicitor’s office and annoy them so that they would tell him what to do. When it came to the settlement day, this guy sat there all day until 5pm before the property settled, ie they leave ‘selfies’ until last. The whole idea of saving $1,000 on a property worth anything from $0.5 m upwards is a false economy.

#27
hk0reduck1:48 pm, 05 Feb 14

I sent you an e-mail in relation to this. Might be in your spam box :)

Don’t do it!!! Unless you want to, in which case respond to my e-mail!

#28
Nylex_Clock2:18 pm, 05 Feb 14

Scrumpox said :

Pay someone to do it. I sold a house to a dude who claimed his ‘sister’ was a law student and would be doing the conveyancing on the property. Turned out it was actually him trying to save a few bucks and he would would turn up at my solicitor’s office and annoy them so that they would tell him what to do. When it came to the settlement day, this guy sat there all day until 5pm before the property settled, ie they leave ‘selfies’ until last. The whole idea of saving $1,000 on a property worth anything from $0.5 m upwards is a false economy.

I did my own conveyance. Had to do a title search, rates and ACTEW searches, final search. Had to exchange contracts and prepare a transfer (although the seller prepared one as well, so we used that).
Everything went much quicker and more smoothly due to there being only half as many lawyers involved than is usually the case when conveyancing.
Very little effort, saved over $1,000.
Well worth doing.

I don’t see why selling would be any different, although you would need to know how to request your mortgage be discharged as well as how to get all the stuff together that goes in the contract. You would also need to figure out what to do with the Buyer’s deposit. Perhaps the Agent could pop it into their trust account for you?

Bottom line is lawyers are slow and inefficient as well as charging vastly more than their pitiful efforts are really worth. Avoid them like the plague.

#29
Testfest2:40 pm, 05 Feb 14

Apis – there’s a few commenters in this thread offering some out of date information.

I sold my own house just a few months ago and while I highly recommend doing that yourself (unless you have a truly unique or prestigious property), I would not recommend doing the conveyancing yourself.

In my experience a lawyer in Canberra will cost you between $1200 – $1600 these days, which is a lot to spend, until something goes wrong or the buyer wants to change some clauses in the standard contract (and that happens more than you would think) and all of a sudden that $1500 becomes a bargain price.

All in all, it’s just not worth the risk.

Here’s a thread for lawyer recommendations: http://the-riotact.com/solicitor-for-conveyancing-in-canberra/106471

And one for selling your house yourself: http://the-riotact.com/selling-a-house-privately-in-canberra-my-2013-experience/120647

#30
Grrrr4:58 pm, 05 Feb 14

djk said :

$875 for the allhomes ad according to the agent’s invoice sitting on my desk.

The Agent charged you $875 (and may have been charged less by Allhomes)? .. Or, you are an agent, and were charged $875?

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