How to choose the best settlement agent in Perth? 5 questions to ask

Buying or selling a house is a lengthy and complex process and obtaining professional advice will help ensure your smooth and successful property settlement. There are hundreds of settlement agents, conveyancers and lawyers in Perth who are qualified to assist. So how do you choose the right person to help you?

Here are five important questions you can ask to help you make your decision.

1. How many properties have you settled?

One of the most important factors to consider is experience. You should know how long they’ve been in business and what types of property they’ve dealt with. You need someone with substantial experience and a strong working knowledge of your specific type of property. Residential green title, strata title, subdivision, commercial property – they are all different and will require unique knowledge and skill sets to ensure a successful settlement.

The extensive knowledge of an experienced Perth settlement agent, conveyancer or lawyer who has handled thousands of property settlements will allow them to protect you from risks by quickly identifying and resolving any issues.

2. How much are your settlement fees?

Settlement fees will vary between providers. In addition to the fee for their professional conveyancing services there will be other costs charged such as title search fees, disbursements and government fees including stamp duty and land registration.

Don’t get caught out by hidden costs. Ask for a comprehensive written quote to understand exactly what you are, or aren’t, being charged for.

Ask if any services are out of scope and what could attract an extra fee if the settlement does not go according to plan. Settlement agents are not qualified to give legal advice so you would need to engage and pay for a lawyer to address any legal issues that arise. A conveyancing lawyer handling your settlement on the other hand, can provide legal advice immediately and will be able to inform you of any additional costs involved.

Remember, cheapest isn’t always best. Whilst value for money is important, the cliché is true – you get what you pay for.

Learn more about settlement agent fees.

3. Do you work independently or are you part of a team?

There are many settlement agents, conveyancers and lawyers who work independently as owner and operator of their own business. Whilst you may like working closely with a small business owner, make sure they have contingency plans to deal with any business or personal emergencies. What happens when they are sick or cannot work for another reason? Have they got any upcoming holidays planned?

Regardless of who you ultimately choose, you should understand who will handle your settlement and what support they have.

4. When and how will you update me?

Most settlement agents and conveyancers have adopted modern communication methods such as text messages, emails and online tracking systems to communicate with clients. Some may still use telephone calls and letters to contact you.

Everyone is different so find out how they communicate and also ask how often they will update you. Make sure it suits your personal needs – do you want to know what’s going on at all times or only want to be contacted at major milestones?

5. Are you a settlement agent or lawyer and do you have the necessary qualifications?

It is important to engage a professional with the right qualifications to settle your property.

In Western Australia. settlement agents, are required to hold a current Settlement Agent Licence and a triennial certificate under the Settlement Agents Act 1981.

Lawyers can also carry out the work of a settlement agent and in Western Australia they must have a current practice certificate as governed by the Legal Profession Act 2008.

Lawyers are qualified to give legal advice. Settlement agents, on the other hand, do not have expertise in property law and cannot provide legal advice.

Working with a lawyer, or settlement agent with the support of a lawyer, will potentially save you a lot of time and money in the event that any problems arise during the course of your property settlement.