Pauline is a Licenced Conveyancer with many years' experience in the conveyancing industry across a broad range of transaction types. Pauline lectures in the Conveyancing Law & Practice Course at Macquarie University and has presented seminars on conveyancing topics for the AICNSW and for Legalwise. Pauline has served on the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal and the NSW Property Services Advisory Council and was a contributing author for the Thomson Lawbook Co. Estate Agents' Practice Manual NSW.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Pauline recently to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.
You can find the full Q&A below.
What does your practice look like and what types of conveyances are you currently working on?
ConveyAbility has quite a varied practice – we look after individuals & corporates across a range of transactions in NSW involving first homes, family homes, upsizing, downsizing, investing, retiring, off plan properties, business premises, commercial properties, rural properties, super funds and more!
Over the years we have learned that there is no such thing as a “standard” conveyance – each transaction has its own unique features and challenges and it is this variety that we find most interesting.
What mistakes do you see conveyancers making when handling an off the plan transaction?
I think the real challenge when dealing with an “off plan” purchase is not wading through the usually telephone book size contract - which is difficult and time consuming enough - but rather dealing with the potential gap between the client’s “expectations” about what they are buying and the “reality” as set out in the developer’s Contract terms. Invariably, these Contracts provide that no matter what “representations” have been made by the developer, the only rights the purchaser will have are those specifically set out in the Contract which are restricted in various ways. Helping clients to understand at the outset that the glossy brochures with beautiful “architect impressions” of the proposed design, development and finishes, may not truly reflect the property the developer is legally required to deliver on settlement - hopefully without entirely bursting their rosy bubble - is quite a task for conveyancers.
The topics in the session you are chairing will cover: Ethical dilemmas in conveyancing matters, Avoiding litigation in property practices: Tips to prevent a LawCover claim, and Are you ready for mandatory electronic lodgement. What are you most looking forward to hearing about in relation to each these topics?
I think its timely to stop and think about the place of “ethics” in our practices. While there are undoubtedly now new tools available to streamline the administrative aspects of conveyancing (electronic settlement and lodgement being a good example), the bulk of conveyancing requires the delivery of quality professional legal advice to our clients and our ethical duty to put the client’s interests before our own remains the same. I am looking forward to hearing some suggestions on 15 March to help us to keep this in mind and to minimise claims and to make the right choices when faced with ethical dilemmas.
Are there any conveyancing trends, developments or red flags that you think practitioners should keep on their radar in 2018?
The environment for our industry has been one of great change and increasing complexity over the past few years. The workload and responsibilities of conveyancers have expanded exponentially over that time with the added requirements by Governments (State and Federal) taking advantage of conveyancing transactions to collect data and taxes. This data can relate to client citizenship and residency status, swimming pools, foreign investors, land tax and stamp duty surcharges and foreign resident vendor CGT. In addition purchasers are at risk of liability for a foreign vendor’s 12.5% CGT in the absence of a vendor ATO Clearance Certificate and, from 1 July this year, will be required to arrange payment to the ATO of the developer’s GST on a newly constructed property or newly subdivided land. Mix in the maze of differing rules of individual government departments and it’s easy to see just how much more demanding the conveyancer’s task has become.
You can hear more from Pauline at the 3rd Annual Conveyancing Conference seminar, being held on Thursday 15 March at the UNSW CBD Campus, Sydney.