Why you need a lawyer when buying a house

  • 14 February 2023

Buying a home is a huge decision and probably the biggest financial decision you will ever make. No doubt you will take a lot of time and care to make sure you choose the right house so it makes sense to make sure that everything goes smoothly for the purchase. That’s where a lawyer can help you.

What does a solicitor or lawyer do when buying a house?

Whether you buy your home at auction, off the plan or through private sale, your solicitor or lawyer will make sure that everything is done legally. This includes doing all the searches on your property and reviewing the contract of sale to make sure there are no hidden surprises. If you have never bought a house before it may surprise you to know that there are many steps in the process and they can be quite complicated.

What steps are in the conveyancing process and how do lawyers help at every stage?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring legal ownership of a property from one person to another. The conveyancing process involves a range of steps including:

  • Reviewing the purchase contract to make sure everything is in order and there are no hidden surprises. If you have not signed the contract yet, your lawyer can also negotiate with the vendor and draft any changes to the contract on your behalf;
  • Reviewing the Vendor’s Statement, which is a legal document that outlines important details about the property. The Vendor’s Statement may include information about any defects on the property or issues that you may want to be fixed before you move in. Your lawyer can help you identify these and negotiate with the seller for you;
  • Making sure your deposit is held in a trust account until the sale is completed. If the vendor asks for the deposit to be released before settlement, your lawyer can give you advice on what this means and whether you should agree to it;
  • Doing searches on the Certificate of Title and any other relevant searches to make sure the property is able to be transferred and does not have any defects or issues that you are not aware of. If there is an issue with the Certificate of Title or other searches, your lawyer can give you advice on what it means to you and may be able to help fix them;
  • Making sure any inspections that need to be completed on the property are done, like a building and pest inspection for example. After the inspection is completed you may want to speak to the seller about fixing some issues that are identified and your lawyer can represent you in these discussions;
  • Reviewing the loan contract, if you are taking out a home loan, to make sure that it meets your needs;
  • Preparing the Settlement Statement and checking the information to make sure you do not pay more than your share of expenses;
  • Liaising with the State Revenue Office to determine if you are eligible for any stamp duty concessions and making sure that you pay the correct amount;
  • Making sure you complete your final inspection. If there are any issues arising from the inspection your lawyer can liaise with the seller and negotiate for these to be fixed on your behalf;
  • Making sure all the documents to transfer the title of the property are completed correctly and in time for settlement. If any changes need to be made to any legal documents your lawyer can draft these and negotiate with the vendor on your behalf;
  • Liaising with the bank, real estate agent and other lawyers or conveyancers to complete settlement on time; and
  • Letting you know when settlement is completed so you can pick up the keys to your new home.

What is the difference between a conveyancer and a lawyer?

A conveyancer may be able to help you with many of the steps above but they are not able to give you legal advice if any issues arise. This is because a conveyancer doesn’t have to be a lawyer. A lawyer can also give you advice on other issues related to the purchase of your house like contract law, leasing, taxation and any property disputes that may exist so you are not caught unaware. If there is an issue with your purchase, your lawyer can potentially help save you time and money by identifying and resolving conflicts quickly and making sure you do not breach your contract or have to pay hefty penalties to the vendor.

When buying a house, your lawyer’s job is to make sure you and your interests are protected. Because they have broader experience than a conveyancer, a lawyer can see issues that may affect you and help you understand what your rights are and how to enforce them. If something goes wrong, a lawyer can also represent you in court or in another dispute resolution forum like the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

Get legal advice from MNG Lawyers

At MNG Lawyers, we have a highly specialised team of both leading lawyers and conveyancers experienced in providing expert legal advice in the house buying process. For over 60 years, we have been helping people buy homes in Victoria they’re absolutely happy with and feel entirely supported at every step of the way. Our conveyancing & property lawyers understand the fine print and can explain it to you in plain English. They will listen to your issues, help you negotiate your agreement and make sure all the paperwork is in order so you can enjoy your new home. If you’re buying a house, get in touch with our lawyers at MNG today.

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