Should you use a lawyer or conveyancer for your property transaction? What exactly is the difference? I came across an online discussion about this recently, and due to the amount of misinformation I decided to write a blog about it. Misconception #1: Lawyers are not more expensive!
Here are some questions and statements I’ve seen:
My parents are buying a house – they were going to use solicitor, I said conveyancer, besides price is there any real difference?
How much difference is [there between] a conveyancer and a solicitor? don’t they both need law degrees?
No way could I have called a solicitor out of hours or expected a call on a public holiday from one.
The simple answer is that both lawyers (also known as solicitors) and conveyancers are qualified to practice conveyancing – being the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. There are 3 common misconceptions about the differences between them:
1. That lawyers are more expensive: False
Of course, this all depends on who you use. There are solicitors who charge top end rates, but there are also conveyancers who advertise very cheap rates and then charge for every “non-standard” situation, or refer you to a solicitor for additional fees when things get complicated. Watch out for the hidden costs!
In my case, I charge affordable fixed fees that are competitive with conveyancers. I know this definitively because I often see the other side’s costs at settlement. And as a qualified solicitor, my fees include all legal advice at no extra charge. It also includes many items that others charge more for, including lodging caveats, nominating other purchasers, and other related “extras”.
2. That conveyancers are unqualified: False
Both lawyers and conveyancers are qualified to undertake property conveyancing, through associated study and licensing. Obviously, the training to become a solicitor is more comprehensive, involving bachelor degrees in law and other areas, and continuing professional development. Not to mention the additional requirements for those who run their own practice like me. Conversely, conveyancers must do a course in property law and conveyancing, and undertake a year’s experience before being licensed. However, the scope of legal advice that they may provide is limited accordingly.
3. That lawyers are unapproachable: False
This misconception appears to tie into costs, because when you’re paying someone by the minute, you get scared to call them too often or ask any questions! This is not an issue with me as I charge fixed fees. I also pride myself on being friendly and accessible, and am available after hours and on weekends if necessary to get the deal done. My clients speak for themselves:
Aliza’s work was more than outstanding, I’ve dealt 4 times before with different conveyancers and solicitors but never had such a great service, she managed to have everything ready in less than 2 weeks due to my urgent settlement. She kept me well informed all throughout the buying process, even worked Saturday and Sunday. I strongly recommend her work and I look forward to work with Aliza again in a near future
At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual professional. You might find a conveyancer with 20 years of experience. Or a solicitor who delegates most of the work to an unqualified admin assistant. I can only vouch for myself. As a solicitor who trained at a top tier law firm, and a sole practitioner who personally manages each transaction, I can assure you that you’re getting a highly qualified, personable solicitor for the cost of a conveyancer.
Aliza Taubman is the Principal Solicitor at Prime Property Lawyers
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