Between Pleasure and Pain
Do I Need a Settlement Agent?
When the time comes to sign on the dotted line, whether you are the buyer or the seller, you will be asked by your Real Estate Agent to nominate a Settlement Agent, Conveyancer or Solicitor to take you through the settlement process.
It isn’t compulsory to nominate a Conveyancer. You can do it yourself if you are confident that you can negotiate the maze of legal stuff without any errors or delays. Unless you have some training or experience in the area of real estate dealings, contracts and/or conveyancing, you are usually far better off engaging a professional than you are attempting to manage your own settlement process.
Good news is that the WA Government sets an official scale of fees for Conveyancers. A Conveyancer can charge you less than the schedule fee, but not more except for incidentals like photocopying and Landgate fees etc.
Most people can tell you horror stories about how much of a headache it was to finalise a real estate deal.
So how do you find a good settlement agent and avoid those headaches?
The first rule of shopping is that you need to plan ahead. If you are selling your home or you are thinking of buying, start looking at Conveyancers at the beginning of the process rather than at the end. Make a few phone calls or even go to a Conveyancer’s office and see how you like them. If they seem like reasonable down to earth people that you’ll get on with, then hopefully you’ll be able to work with them.
Ask around: talk to family and friends who have bought or sold real estate and see who they would recommend. You can also ask your Real Estate Agent. Aha, I hear you say, but how do I know the Real Estate Agent isn’t getting a kickback for recommending someone? Actually, we’re not allowed to accept kickbacks. It says so in the Real Estate and Business Agents Act as well as the REIWA Code of Conduct. If we recommend someone to you it’s because we like the way they treat our clients and we have a good working relationship with them. Sometimes we might even be cheeky and ask them to cut a deal… for YOU. We do get something out of it. We get something very important: we get happy customers, and that’s worth more than gold. (We also get a card at Christmas from some of them and we get to build our professional network a bit, too.)
Not everyone will get along with the same Conveyancer. Sometimes people click and sometimes they don’t. Plan ahead and ask around. That way you’ll have the best chance of getting someone who will make the process easy and as painless as possible for you.