BUYING or selling a home is usually the biggest financial transaction people make in their lives, and getting the contractual side of the sale wrong can have long-term negative effects for those who go in unprepared.
However Queanbeyan's first Licensed Conveyancer, Rachel Bevan at Bevan Snell Lawyers, is empowering buyers and sellers alike with her specialist contract knowledge.
Conveyancing is the legal process involved in transferring the title of a property from seller to buyer, and it's generally handled by solicitors, who spend six months of their four-year university course focusing on property law.
But as a specialist conveyancer, Mrs Bevan spent her four years at Macquarie University focused purely on property law, and she said that gives her the edge in helping both buyers and sellers avoid common pitfalls in the transaction.
"In New South Wales you can't put a property on the market without firstly having a contract. So that's what we do; we prepare the contract given the relevant statutory requirements and Council requirements, and then we market the contract with whichever agent the seller has chosen," Mrs Bevan said.
"We also go a step further and we go to Council to inspect files to make sure everything's approved, which a lot of solicitors don't do for a sale.
"I guess that's our advantage. We can concentrate on the little intricate parts of the contract to make sure that the buyer or the seller is getting what they want," she said.
One common pitfall for prospective buyers is exchanging contracts on a property that doesn't have the necessary home warranty insurance in place.
"People don't realise that in NSW that if you do any renovations over $20,000 you've got to have home warranty insurance. I get that a lot. It means you can't put the house on the market until such time as you've got the certificate," Mrs Bevan said.
However people regularly do put houses on the market without the necessary accreditation, and as with most transactions, it's a case of 'buyer beware'.
"The vendor has an obligation to let people know [about any problems], but that's why it's called 'buyer beware.'
"You've got to make sure that you do that [research] all beforehand, because there are clauses in the contract to say you're taking the property as is. So you really need to do all that before you lock yourself into an auction contract or any other contract," Mrs Bevan said.
Less qualified conveyancing can also allow loopholes into a contract, with buyers then able to pull out at the last minute.
"Because I don't have other litigation files to worry about I can focus purely on the ins and outs of that contract and making sure it's airtight," Mrs Bevan said.
"It's piece of mind for the seller, and it's piece of mind for the purchaser too, that everything's in order- that once they've settled, 12-months down the track they're not finding something that wasn't approved or that could have been picked up and wasn't," she said.
If you're buying or selling a home, contact Rachel Bevan, Licensed Conveyancer, at Bevan Snell Lawyers on 6298 1333.