The settlement industry is very competitive and you can save money by shopping around. Some lawyers charge less than settlement agents.
Agents sometimes recommend associated settlement agents because “it’s convenient”. No matter how helpful and friendly the seller’s real estate agent has been, he/she has a duty to the seller to ensure that the settlement proceeds on time and the seller gets paid.
On the other hand, it is in your best interests as the buyer to ensure that all necessary checks are made and the seller has fulfilled all obligations under the contract before you pay the purchase price.
Because of the potential for a conflict of interest, you should choose a settlement representative who is not acting for the seller and is not associated with the seller’s real estate agent.
Lawyer or settlement agent?
It makes sense to engage a lawyer rather than a settlement agent because only a lawyer can offer you professional legal advice if issues arise. Most settlements proceed smoothly; however, even in straightforward dealings, issues can arise. For example, see our blog articles on unlawful buildings, penalties for late settlement, early possession and switching buyers before settlement.
Only a lawyer is professionally qualified to draft any necessary contract variations or Notices you may need to give the other party.