When buying any type of property, you're not typically legally required to have a settlement agent or conveyancer work with you; however, the services offered by this type of professional can be invaluable, especially for buyers, in order to reduce your financial risk when purchasing property. You may assume a real estate agent is all that's needed for the process, but note when a settlement agent or conveyancer should also be called to assist you through the buying process.

When you're buying property as an investment

If you're buying a home that you have your heart set on, you may not worry too much about the negotiation process, the final buying price and about certain inspections or valuations other than what is required by law. You may simply want to buy that dream home and then will deal with whatever fixes are needed after the purchase.

However, if you're buying property as an investment, it becomes important that it go through rigorous inspections, many of which may not be required by law; this may include an inspection for pollution on the property itself and an inspection for pest infestations. You may also want to search for any proposed developments in the area that may affect the property's long-term value. A real estate agent may not be able to offer the assistance needed with arranging these types of inspections whereas a settlement agent may be of better assistance.

When you're buying property sight-unseen

If you're looking for property in a foreign country or are looking to expand your business in another state and cannot be there in person to inspect a property, a settlement agent can help. Note that a real estate agent usually works on commission; while they may be very honest with you about a piece of property, they may still try to coerce you into the purchase or fail to talk you out of an unwise investment.

A settlement agent usually works according to a fee schedule that is the same whether or not you actually buy the property. This can allow them to offer a more neutral opinion of the property's condition and valuation. While they typically cannot advise if the property would be a good investment or a good choice for your business, they may note factors that a real estate agent may not stress to you, such as that new development planned that may affect traffic, access to the property and the like.