Identifying the right person for the job

Like all trades, there are good lawyers and conveyancers and some not so good ones. Whether you are buying or selling, having the right legal advice can be crucial to ultimately securing your dream home. Whether buying or selling, reaching a verbal agreement and having a contractual agreement are two very different situations. A good real estate lawyer will ensure that you migrate seamlessly from your verbal agreement to exchanging contracts without incident.

Many people scrutinise multiple real estate firms when selling, yet simply go searching for the nearest or cheapest legal advice for the same transaction. This haphazard approach can sometimes turn the process of conveyancing into a world of drama and it usually occurs at the most crucial time of the transaction.

There are two errors people can fall into when appointing someone to do conveyancing.

The first is that they don’t know what to expect from a lawyer, so they look online until they find the cheapest one.  Petrol and milk are products which should be purchased on the basis of price. Lawyers handling the transaction of your most valuable asset should be engaged on the basis of competence first and price second.

Buying real estate is a long way from a corporate takeover, so you don’t need to pay excessive amounts for a high powered lawyer to guide you through the nuances of the Conveyancing Act. A lawyer with experience and a track record of success in conveyancing, at a fair price, will ensure that your legal position is protected.

The second error many people fall into when hiring a lawyer is that they hire a lawyer who does not really want the job. The lawyer takes the brief out of loyalty to the client, even though they specialise in other areas of law.

As an example, a good corporate lawyer does not necessarily make a good real estate lawyer and vice versa. Yet if a client feels loyalty towards a solicitor who has helped them in the past, that solicitor may feel obligated to take the job on in return – even though they don’t really want it. In extreme cases, the file is passed off to a paralegal or junior in the office and given little consideration by the lawyer who was engaged by the loyal client.

Conveyancing is generally a straight-forward process for a lawyer. But about 1 in 20 transactions require the involvement of an attentive competent lawyer, when complications arise. Murphy’s Law suggests that the transaction which has been delegated down the pecking order by the lawyer, is the one that will require the most skillset from the lawyer.

If your preferred lawyer does not do real estate work on a daily basis, it is a good idea to ask them straight out if they really want to do the job? Then, ask if they will be handling the matter personally? Candor like this ensures that everyone will be on the same page and that you won’t be left floundering during negotiations.

Real estate agents and lawyers

A good working relationship between your lawyer and your agent is also crucial when negotiations begin.

Before a property can be listed for sale, the vendor’s solicitor must prepare a contract of sale on behalf of the vendor. This contract is a legal requirement, which must then be given to the listing agent prior to the property being marketed.

Once a buyer or buyers express an interest in the property, they take a copy of that contract to their own lawyer for review and negotiation.

In a competitive market such as we have at present, there is every possibility that multiple buyers will be trying to secure the property. Whether you are buying or selling in such a situation, the agent and lawyer need to work closely together and in sync.

As a seller with multiple buyers in play, it’s very much a case of the more buyers the merrier. Tactically, you want all buyers to be satisfied with the terms of the contract so that their respective offers become binding upon acceptance. There is nothing worse than declining a contract offer for a higher non-binding offer, which eventually crashes.

A good real estate lawyer acting on behalf of the seller will professionally and rapidly move all interested buyers past the contract review phase. The negotiation can then quickly go back to the agent for setting up closure.

As a buyer trying to secure a property in a buoyant market, speed can often be that crucial ingredient to success. Most sellers will take an offer on a signed contract far more seriously if the contract has been reviewed and negotiated by the purchaser’s lawyer.

Presenting an offer with such certainty can often be the difference between securing your dream home quickly or continuing to look for a suitable alternative.

A good real estate lawyer won’t be able to ensure you buy or sell at the right price, but they will be able to put you in the best possible position to do so, with a minimum of fuss at a fair price.

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