Conveyancing Lawyers for Singapore Property Transactions

Last updated on December 10, 2021

lawyer showing document to couple

If you have been planning to purchase a new home or sell your current property in Singapore, you may be wondering if you would need to engage a conveyancing lawyer to assist with the transaction.

What exactly does a conveyancing lawyer do, and what are the considerations that you might need to bear in mind if you are deciding on whether you need a conveyancing lawyer?

This article explains:

What Does a Conveyancing Lawyer Do?

Conveyancing refers to the transfer of legal ownership in a property from one person to the other. In Singapore, the conveyancing process comprises several different transactions that need to be completed before the ownership can be transferred. A conveyancing lawyer therefore acts as a key intermediary between you and the other party (i.e., the buyer or the seller) to the transaction.

Importantly, the conveyancing lawyer plays a key role in representing your (the client’s) best interests when handling the necessary paperwork and communicating with the relevant parties in the transaction, such as the bank, the buyer/seller, the buyer/seller’s lawyers, and government authorities.

Throughout the transaction, a conveyancing lawyer will assist with matters such as:

  • Reviewing the terms of the Option to Purchase (OTP) i.e. an agreement for the sale and purchase of property
  • If you intend to make a purchase of a property: Advise on and carry out the relevant searches before you lodge a caveat on the property with the Singapore Land Authority.
  • If you are applying for a mortgage or drawing from your CPF funds to pay for housing: A conveyancing lawyer will also help manage these finance-related matters, including liaising with the banks and notifying the relevant government authorities.
  • Registration of the title transfer with the authorities.

For more details on the conveyancing process and the transactions involved, you may wish to refer to our other article on the conveyancing process in Singapore.

Do I Need to Look For a Conveyancing Lawyer?

No, you do not necessarily need to look for your own conveyancing lawyer if: 

You are buying/selling an HDB flat 

HDB is able to provide legal services – such as assisting with loan redemption or in terms of overseeing the conveyancing process – when you are buying or selling an HDB flat. This is regardless of whether you are taking a loan from HDB or from the banks. You will hence be able to engage HDB’s conveyancing lawyers for these transactions instead of sourcing for your own lawyer.

The legal fees that are payable if you choose to appoint HDB’s lawyers to act for you are stated in the Housing and Development (Conveyancing Fees) Rules 2002. HDB also has an online Legal Fees Enquiry Facility that allows you to get an estimate of the legal fees that you will need to pay, depending on the type of transaction. You should be able to indicate if you wish to have HDB’s lawyers act for you in the relevant application forms pertaining to your transaction.

However, in the event you are taking a bank loan instead of an HDB loan, keep in mind that HDB can act for only you and not the bank. This means that the bank will engage its own lawyers and you may have to pay additional legal fees to them.

If you do not wish to appoint HDB’s lawyers to act for you in the conveyancing transaction, then you may choose to engage an external conveyancing lawyer. The conveyancing lawyer will communicate with the relevant parties, such as HDB and the bank, when representing you (as mentioned above).

Yes, you are encouraged to look for your own conveyancing lawyer if: 

You are buying/selling private property

If you are looking to buy or sell private property – for example, landed property or a condominium unit – it is usually advisable to engage a conveyancing lawyer to assist with the transaction.

Buying private residential property in Singapore is a significant investment, with most transactions often exceeding a million dollars at least. A conveyancing lawyer will ensure that the necessary stages in a conveyancing transaction are thoroughly completed so that the transaction proceeds safely and smoothly.

While some of the conveyancing processes might appear to be straightforward, it can be a risky process. For example, a buyer or seller who tries to complete the conveyancing process on their own may overlook certain legal requirements, or make an error in the conveyancing process, which causes the title in the property to not be transferred properly to the other party. This can come at a great cost to the individual concerned.

A conveyancing lawyer can help mitigate such risks by having sight of the different steps and procedures involved in the conveyancing process, and making sure that they are complied with within the stipulated timelines.

In addition, for non-residents who wish to purchase a private property, a conveyancing lawyer can assist with conducting preliminary due diligence to determine your eligibility for doing so.

You are refinancing your property

If you are looking to refinance existing loans on your property – whether it is an HDB flat or private property – you may also want to consider engaging a conveyancing lawyer to help you execute the necessary legal processes involved and to liaise with the banks.

The refinancing process requires a considerable amount of legal work, and an experienced conveyancing lawyer can help oversee the transaction so that it proceeds smoothly and efficiently for you.

You may refer to our other article for more information on the refinancing process for a residential property in Singapore.

How Much Does It Cost to Engage a Conveyancing Lawyer in Singapore?

In general, you can expect to pay between S$1,300 and $3,000 to engage a conveyancing lawyer in Singapore for a property sale or purchase transaction. However, do note that the fees will vary depending on whether the property is an HDB property or a private property and the complexity of the transaction, among other factors.

Be sure to confirm the fees beforehand to avoid incurring any hidden fees at a later date. Some firms might appear to charge a low legal fee, but this excludes other additional charges from the total cost, such as mortgage stamping fees, CPF fees or GST.

For many Singaporeans, their residential property is likely to be their largest or most significant investment, costing a 6- or 7-figure sum or even more. In addition, the conveyancing process is multi-faceted in nature and can sometimes be complex and time-consuming given the many steps, timelines and procedures involved. It is therefore worth considering engaging a trained and experienced conveyancing lawyer to handle the transaction and give you peace of mind in the conveyancing process.

In addition, if you have engaged a property agent, a conveyancing lawyer’s fee is likely to be much lower than your agent’s commission fees, which can average between 1% and 5% of the property price, depending on whether you are the buyer or seller, as well as the type and cost of the property.

With the above in mind, the cost of engaging a conveyancing lawyer in Singapore is therefore a relatively small but essential sum to pay to ensure that you can buy or sell your property, or carry out other property-related transactions, with ease.

How Do I Choose a Conveyancing Lawyer in Singapore?

If you have decided that you would like to proceed with engaging a conveyancing lawyer, the next step would be to choose a suitable lawyer to assist with your transaction. Here are some factors to consider:

Experience of the lawyer

It is important to hire an experienced conveyancing lawyer who has the necessary qualifications and credentials to handle your transaction. This is because conveyancing transactions can be a complex and time-consuming process.

Be sure to also engage a lawyer who has experience in your specific conveyancing transaction – for example, if you are looking to purchase an HDB flat, it would be worth your while to narrow your search for conveyancing lawyers who primarily handle HDB conveyancing transactions, rather than a lawyer who largely deals with corporate real estate or private property transactions.

Ability to get along with the lawyer

Generally speaking, you can expect a typical conveyancing process to be completed within 12 weeks. Throughout the process, you will be dealing with your lawyer frequently and communicating on a regular basis to receive updates on the transaction. It is therefore important to engage a lawyer whom you feel comfortable interacting with and can trust with overseeing the conveyancing process on your behalf.

Fees and affordability

The affordability of the lawyer’s fees is an important consideration. In Singapore, a number of conveyancing law firms offer all-inclusive fixed-fee conveyancing packages to help keep their costs affordable for clients.

For firms that offer such fixed-fee packages, be sure to also confirm if the fee is inclusive of other costs or fees (e.g., search and registration fees, and mortgage stamp fees).

Location of the law firm and convenience

If you are looking to sell or purchase an HDB flat, you may be wondering if you should engage a lawyer who is located near the HDB Hub for greater convenience – for example, you have physical documents that need to be urgently reviewed by your lawyer so that you can submit them to HDB on time.

While convenience can be an important factor for some, it is far more important to choose a conveyancing lawyer based on their reliability, experience and expertise. This will help ensure that the conveyancing process is a hassle-free and smooth one for you.

When purchasing or selling a property in Singapore, it is important to take the appropriate and necessary steps to make sure that the transaction proceeds smoothly. A conveyancing lawyer plays a critical role in helping to simplify complex transactions and execute the necessary legal processes.  Entrusting your conveyancing transaction with an experienced conveyancing lawyer will also ensure that your rights are well-protected at each and every stage, and any conflicts or issues that may arise can be addressed as soon as possible.

If you wish to consult a conveyancing lawyer, our Find a Lawyer service allows you to get quotes from up to 5 conveyancing lawyers in Singapore for free. You can then engage the lawyer whom you feel is best suited for your needs.

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