First, a truism: the purchase of a house involves a major commitment, and a major investment. It can be exciting and stressful at the same time. You will, on so many levels, have a relationship with your house. Get off to a good start.
Many people are likely to have an involvement with your purchase: you, your family and friends, the seller, the seller’s real estate agent, your mortgage broker and bank, and your conveyancer. Apart from all the behind the scenes work (checking the contract of sale, council searches, the Certificate of Title, liaising with your financier, liaising with the conveyancer for the other party, anticipating and dealing with problems), your conveyancer is the person who ultimately completes the transaction by handing over the money (your money) and collecting the title.
It is no simple matter to handle the conveyancing for the sale or purchase of a property and you should not even think about doing it yourself. It is a job for a professional. And that is the first thing to look for—a professional conveyancer, one who carries professional indemnity insurance, and who is regulated by a professional body.
Knowledge of the local area is generally a good thing. A local conveyancer builds up a body of knowledge about the practices of certain real estate agents and the contracts they use and knowledge about the local area problems that may arise.
A local conveyancer can also be easier to contact, and ease of contact is one of the most important things to look for in retaining a provisional adviser of any sort. Local also means that they have a reputation which rises or falls with the quality of their service. The longer the local conveyancer has been established, the more time there has been for his or her reputation to become established. You should choose a reputable conveyancer.
And you also need to be confident that if anything goes wrong, your conveyancer can either deal with it personally, or turn quickly to someone who can. And whilst there are very real benefits to retaining a conveyancer who practices with property lawyers, most professional conveyancers do maintain relationships with lawyers in order to get prompt advice when problems arise.
Last, a truism: the purchase of a $400,000 house involves a number of substantial expenses including Stamp Duty ($16,330) and Transfer Registration ($2,484). You don’t want to add any unnecessary expenses, and you should look for a range of quotes. As in life in general, you tend to get what you pay for, and you are paying for peace of mind and confidence that the job will be done well.