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What do Property Lawyers Do?

Jan, 12

Well you may have heard the term of property lawyers in Singapore, ever wonder what they do or who they are?

For starters property lawyers as the name suggests, refers to lawyers for your purchase or sale of property. They are people who advocate for you during times when you may need a lawyer when it comes to your property conveyancing. They are people with the right skill set and knowledge to help you review and prepare documents that revolve around property such as purchase documents, mortgage documents and transfer documents. In general they are people you reach out to when dealing with property to ensure that everything that is happening is legal and to ensure that you do not get in trouble with the law.

Property lawyers are usually engaged and hired for a particular transaction when the deal is about to be closed with a buyer. This is to ensure that everything is for the best interest of the client and to make sure that the transaction is legal and binding. If there happens to be any disputes regarding breach of contracts or any other matter the lawyer will resolve the issue to their best ability.

You may ask well why do you have to fork up money to get a property lawyer and go through all the regular procedures? This is for your best interest and your safety. When dealing with property it is highly encouraged to get a lawyer as property is a huge asset and having a lawyer is equivalent to having insurance to ensure that no laws have been broken and that you will not face any issues legally. If you however do come across an issue, a property lawyer has the knowledge to advise you on what is the best thing to do at the moment to ensure no other issues come up. They will also do a complete search and gather information on the property and study about the rules and regulations of the property to ensure that it is of good reputation and to ensure that you do not get cheated and to do everything with your best interest at heart.

As there are many law firms in Singapore, they each have their own law service that they provide. Property conveyancing services are what you should be looking for. The services include:

  • Redemption of bank loans
  • Transfering of shares in HDB and private property
  • Renting and leasing
  • Mortgage
  • Legal advice for Option to Purchase and sale and purchase agreements

Here is a list of property types that most property lawyers in Singapore engage in:

  • Residential
  • Condominiums and Apartments
  • Landed property
  • Commercial Property
  • Industrial Property

Before we dive deeper there are two main types of lawyers one is for buying while the other one is for selling. Here is more information on what the two are:

When purchasing a property, a property lawyer will help you check your Option to Purchase Agreement while you conduct your own necessary checks on the property and the seller. Once you have made the decision of the property you would like and have used your Option, a property lawyer will then lodge a flag on the property to conduct the legal checks on the title and work in hand with a bank and if necessary the Central Provident Fund Board on financing the purchase of the property.

When selling a property, a property lawyer will help you check on your outstanding mortgages and check if there are any penalties for early redemption. If Central Provident Funds (CPF) were used to purchase your property from the start, your lawyer will check the amount to be repaid along with the accumulated interest. The property lawyer will prepare and provide the proof of all the charges you have paid, for example; property taxes and others. During the purchase if you may have made certain agreements with the buyer it will all be recorded and the details will be drafted by a property lawyer.

Now that you have information about the types of property lawyers and the services they provide, here is a guide on how to choose the right lawyer for you.

It is not common knowledge that when you purchase a property you have the option of choosing the law firm that handles your paperwork. As the current conveyancing fees are in the range of SGD$2,000 to SGD$3,000, you have the option of choosing a cheaper firm which will enable you to save some extra money. However you are highly advised to pick a firm with a good reputation as at the end of the day they are still handling your paperwork.

  • Understand what your money is actually going into
    Most people do not realise what the law firm is actually supposed to be doing for them which then results in them blindly picking a law firm.

    The law firm you picked is supposed to be:

    • Checking the details of the Option to Purchase
    • Help you get CPF monies to purchase the property
    • Provide you with the breakdown of various costs and investigate the property thoroughly to ensure that everything is in order.
  • Look for a law firm from the start
    You should look for a law firm before signing your Option to Purchase. A good way is to contact your mortgage broker as they are usually happy to help you find a cheap and reputable law firm for you and they will not charge you anything.

    By right your property agent is supposed to check on your Option to Purchase form, however if you do no have a property agent, a lawyer is fit for that role as well.

  • Value research
    Do your best at researching and find the best rate that fits your budget. The market rate is SGD$2,000 to SGD$3,000 however there are firms willing to go lower. Smaller firms tend to charge you lower rates. Read our latest blog on “Are You Being Overcharged by Your Property Lawyer?”
  • Check if you firm is on the bank’s board
    Depending on the bank, certain banks only accept certain law firms. It depends on whether the law firm is on the bank’s “board” and this list will constantly change. Ideally try to get hold of a firm that is on many of the bank’s boards as this will allow you to easily change between banks.
  • Research on the firm
    Do your own research on the firm just by searching on google. Ensure that they are on the internet and check for their reputation. Look out for any bad feedback or comments such as poor service or lawyers leaving their clients as these are the last things you want happening to you.

As a summary, property lawyers help you with your property to ensure you are legally making deals and are not breaking the law. In the long run it will save you more money and from trouble that may arise from the future. Think and decide on what you really need and ensure that it is within your budget before making a decision. You can also read our blog on ‘How to choose a property lawyer’ here.

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