Buying or selling a piece of property involves many complex processes that can be very intimidating to the uninitiated. That is why many property owners and home buyers hire the services of a conveyancer. If you want to be a part of this growing profession of conveyancing, here are the things you need to get started.
Understand the Nature of the Job
Conveyancing is a growing profession. For some people, a conveyancer serves more like a “middle man” in a particular transaction. However, this only scratches the top of who a true professional conveyancer is.
A conveyancer’s main professional responsibility is to facilitate the transfer of ownership of a certain piece of real estate property from the vendor or seller to the buyer. He must comply with the conveyancing law that has jurisdiction over the property.
It may look simple enough. However, there are many issues that vendors have to address to gain the trust of the buyer.
In essence, conveyancing requires a thorough investigation of the current state of the subject property. The conveyancer will have to make sure that there are no debts or any problems inherent in the ownership of the property. If there are any debts or liens, then the conveyancer will have to find proof that the vendor has such liabilities already taken care of.
In other words, the very nature of the conveyancing profession is to ensure the smooth, fast, and legal transfer of ownership. As a professional, you will deal with the legal, finance, and administrative aspects of the property transaction. You will also serve as a resource person for either the buyer or the vendor.
It is important that you understand what the job entails. Entering a profession without a clue as to what you are getting into is a mistake.
Know the Difference between a Conveyancer and a Solicitor
There are two professions in Australia that provide conveyancing services. Understanding what they are can help you determine how you want to proceed in your conveyancing career.
A solicitor is a lawyer by profession. They have extensive knowledge of the law, including property law. They can advise clients on all aspects of conveyance. However, they do not limit their services to conveyancing alone. Solicitors can also advise clients on any tax implications of a particular property transaction. They can also provide advice on the implications of the conveyancing process on a client’s divorce proceedings.
A conveyancer, on the other hand, is more concerned about the administrative aspect of the property transaction. He or she may not be a full-fledged lawyer. However, it is crucial that the conveyancer has the correct competencies expected of the job.
Because a solicitor is knowledgeable about different kinds of laws, the educational pathway is longer. It can take many years before one can finish a degree in law. One also has to take a licensure examination for lawyers before he can practice his profession.
If you want to build a career in conveyancing, becoming a solicitor can be more fulfilling. It opens more doors of opportunity for career growth. You also get to command a much higher professional fee than an ordinary conveyancer.
Unfortunately, time is something that you have to consider. A degree in law can take many years to complete. That is why most people who want to start a career in conveyancing would rather stick to a relevant degree.
Take a Course on Conveyancing
There are educational institutions in Australia that offer a diploma degree in conveyancing. You do not need any prior experience to enter any of these educational institutions. Many of these schools offer both on-campus and online courses. Some may only provide either of the two modes of learning. You will have to choose the learning model that is more suited to your needs.
Online programs are perfect for those who are already working. It is also ideal for those who may not have enough time to go to school and attend classes. You will still get the same course credits necessary for getting a diploma in conveyancing.
A diploma program often includes both theory and practice components. The theory component will deal more with the different laws that are applicable in the conveyancing process. It also introduces concepts and principles necessary to make a sound decision related to the different aspects of the transaction.
The most important component of the course is practice. Students get to apply the principles and concepts in the real-world setting. Different educational institutions have partnerships with real estate companies, law firms, and other organizations that have something to do with properties. It is also not uncommon that the student will have to look for a firm that accepts apprentices or on-the-job trainees. These experiences can help introduce aspiring conveyancers to the true nature of the profession.
There is also an advanced diploma in conveyancing. People who have been practicing their profession for a few years can choose to upgrade their knowledge and skills by taking this course. This puts them in a much better position to provide better services to their clients.
Find a Job
Getting a diploma is not enough to set you on a fulfilling career in conveyancing. You will have to apply for a license so that you can practice your profession legally. Unfortunately, applying for a license requires a minimum of 12 months of full-time work experience. That is why it is important to look for a job right after finishing your diploma.
There are companies that can hire you and perform some of the different functions of a conveyancer. You can choose to work under the supervision of a conveyancer who already holds a valid license in the state where you want to practice conveyancing. Make sure that the conveyancer has the necessary authority to supervise you. Otherwise, your work experience will not count in your license application.
An alternative will be to work in a law firm that specializes in property law or in real estate law. They have solicitors who can help you learn the different tricks of the trade.
Whatever you choose, take this opportunity to learn as much as you possibly can. This will not only mean a lot during your application for a license. It will also prepare you for your own practice. There will always be certain aspects of conveyancing that your diploma course did not prepare you for. Working for a solicitor or a seasoned conveyancer will give you a much deeper understanding of how the profession works in real life.
Apply for a Conveyancer’s License
Different Australian states and territories have varying guidelines as to the requirements for a conveyancer’s license. In Victoria, one should be able to show proof that he or she obtained a Diploma of Conveyancing from either Victoria University or the RMIT University.
The licensing authority also requires applicants to have at least 12 months of full-time experience performing conveyancing-related functions. This experience should be within the last 5 years prior to the application. It is also necessary that the experience was obtained under the supervision of a conveyancer with a valid license issued by the state government of Victoria.
One can also obtain the experience from a legal practitioner. It is important that the lawyer has the appropriate practicing certificate that gives them the authority to supervise the legal practice of others.
Having these requirements does not translate to automatic approval of your application for a license. There are several factors that can make you ineligible for the license. For starters, one should not be younger than 18 years old at the time of the application. You should also not be bankrupt or currently in an insolvent state.
Any conviction that warrants imprisonment of at least three months can also be a ground for ineligibility. This is especially the case for convictions or having a guilty verdict within 10 years prior to the application.
It would be wise to check with your state’s conveyancing licensing authority about the eligibility requirements.
Set Up Your Own Conveyancing Service
Once you have your license, you can already set up your own conveyancing company. Make sure to learn about the different requirements for the setting up of a company in your locality. You can also work as a sole conveyancer or a sole trader. It is also possible to work for a company that provides conveyancing services.
Keep in mind that part of being a professional conveyancer is carrying appropriate professional indemnity insurance. The Australian Ministry for Consumer Affairs requires professional conveyancers to carry at least AUS$ 2 million of insurance coverage.
Having professional indemnity insurance also assures the validity of your license. If you do not have this type of insurance cover, then the Business Licensing Authority will cancel or suspend your license. You will not be able to set up your business or continue providing conveyancing services without a valid license.
Join a Professional Organization
It is not necessary that you are a member of a professional organization of conveyancers in Australia. However, it does lend more credibility and trustworthiness to your profession if you do. That is why respected conveyancers in the country are members of the Australian Institute of Conveyancers.
This professional organization can help you improve on your profession. They provide members with both education and support that will advance their conveyancing practice. This includes keeping abreast of relevant laws and updates in property law that may have an impact on the practice of the profession.
The organization also manages the insurance policy of its members. It does this in conjunction with other organizations such as the Austbrokers Countrywide. They make sure that you have the right coverage necessary for professional practice.
Grow Your Business
Always look at conveyancing as a business, since you are providing a service that people need. It is for this reason that you should also engage in meaningful and more relevant marketing activities.
Utilize your experience as an apprentice while waiting for your chance to get a license. Your work before should have already exposed you to different clients. You may have also fostered good relationships with them. You can always get in touch with them and tell them that you are now offering your own conveyancing services. They may no longer have a need for such a service. However, they may know someone who does.
Leverage your knowledge of social media. Many conveyancers today reach out to their potential clients through various social media platforms. It “humanizes” the service, making it more appealing to potential customers. It gives them the impression that you are trustworthy.
Ask your friends and acquaintances for a referral. They may know someone who is considering selling his or her property or wants to buy one. Do not underestimate the value of traditional marketing techniques. Flyers, posters, and print advertisements still work. After all, there are still people who prefer to do things the conventional way rather than more modern methods.
Keep on Learning
There is a reason why there are schools that offer an advanced diploma in conveyancing. This is to equip professionals with more advanced concepts that they can use in their professional practice. In addition to advanced concepts, continuing education programs can also provide you with the most relevant updates to your profession.
Your membership to a professional organization also guarantees more opportunities for learning. Professional organizations always work to improve the professional competencies of their members. They provide seminars, training, conferences, and other programs that can help increase the knowledge and skills of their members.
There are third-party providers of continuing education programs, too. Make sure to keep track of reputable companies and organizations that offer learning activities for conveyancers. Most of them will coordinate with the professional organization as well as relevant government agencies.
Starting a career in conveyancing takes patience, perseverance, and dedication. It starts with a clear understanding of the very nature of the profession. One can then take the necessary steps to become a trustworthy professional conveyancer.