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Solicitor vs conveyancer: what's the difference?

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After you’ve started the process to buy or sell a home, you’ll deal less with your real estate agent and more with your solicitor or conveyancer. When you need your property to settle, you’ll need to have a solicitor or conveyancer represent you. Solicitors and conveyancers can both do conveyancing work, but what’s the difference between these two professions? Understanding these differences can help guide you in choosing the right person for the job.

What is a conveyancer?

A conveyancer acts on your behalf if you’re buying or selling a home for settlement to occur. This means they’ll organise transferring the land title into the new owner/s names. Your conveyancer will organise all the documents you’ll need for settlement and communicate with the seller’s representatives on your behalf.

Your conveyancer should be listed on the contract of sale. Before you sign anything, they will usually do a scan over it to ensure all the details are correct and that you’re happy with the contract as it is. They may also carry out a title search on the property if this hasn’t already been done. Additionally, they handle the legal work involved in setting up/transferring your mortgage.

Conveyancers specialise in property transactions - meaning they do not have the same extensive legal knowledge a solicitor has. A conveyancer can also be a solicitor, but this isn’t always the case.

What is a solicitor?

While similar to a conveyancer, a solicitor is more of an all-rounder when it comes to property and legal expertise. They can provide you with advice on matters of property law and can handle complicated legal issues that a conveyancer is simply unable to do. A solicitor would handle the same things as a conveyancer when buying or selling - as in, they take you through the settlement process and represent you throughout.

A conveyancer is a property transaction specialist; however, solicitors aren’t always solely conveyancing solicitors. They may also handle other legal issues with conveyancing being just one of the services they offer.

Solicitor vs conveyancer: What are the main differences?

As we’ve mentioned, solicitors and conveyancers are quite similar in the services they provide. But let’s briefly sum up the key differences in the table below.

Conveyancer Solicitor
Conveyancers are not always solicitors - meaning they won’t have the same extensive legal knowledge. Solicitors can also be conveyancers. Even if they’re not, solicitors provide the same services as conveyancers as well as property law advice and help with difficult legal issues.
Experts at conveyancing. Not always experts at conveyancing - may also practise in other fields.
Can be cheaper - usually charge a flat fee. Can be more expensive - may charge by the hour.

Should you choose a solicitor or conveyancer?

If you live in Queensland or the ACT, unfortunately, the choice is made for you: you must engage the services of a solicitor to complete your conveyancing work. However, if you live in any other state or territory, you’re free to choose a solicitor or conveyancer. One option may be more suitable than other in a few different circumstances.

You may choose to hire a conveyancer if you believe the sale will be relatively straight forward, you want to reduce your costs and/or know exactly how much they will be. On the other hand, a solicitor may be more suited if the sale is complex or the property is of high value, you have concerns about the transaction going smoothly, and/or want someone on hand if you need property law advice.

Either way, if you don’t live in Queensland or the ACT, the choice is yours. A solicitor or conveyancer can get your property transaction over the line. If you hire a conveyancer and end up needing the help of a solicitor, you can still hire a solicitor to represent you later on.

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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