A quick guide for the curious!..
- Is DIY conveyancing right for you
- When it definitely should not be attempted
- Where to get all the documents you’ll need
Table of Contents
I have two words for you
Before you commit to going down the DIY conveyancing approach, I want to highlight two important words -> negligence and insurance.
As a private individual you don’t have any ‘negligence insurance’ but solicitors and licensed conveyancers do.
- If you make a mistake doing your own conveyancing, you will be personally responsible.
- If a solicitor or licensed conveyancer makes a mistake, they at least have a professional negligence insurance policy that will payout.
I completely understand the desire to cut your moving costs to a minimum however, it would be irresponsible of us to speak enthusiastically about self-conveyancing without pointing out the pitfalls.
Is it even worth the hassle?
Now, we’re not saying it can’t be done.
On the contrary, under the right circumstances it can (many 1,000’s have successfully trodden the path before you).
After all, conveyancing is not brain surgery.
And up until a few years ago, if you were the kind of person who:
- Enjoyed filling out forms
- Had 30 or so hours to devote (i.e. What it would take a lay person to undertake the process)
- Enjoyed deciphering legalese (legal mumbo jumbo)…
Then we would have said it was worth a shot.
But frankly, the Internet has had such a profound effect on reducing conveyancing fee levels that (in our opinion) doing your own conveyancing is just not worth the hassle anymore.
Of all the ways to save money when moving home, attempting your own conveyancing is:
- The riskiest
- The most labour intensive
- The most jargonistic
- The least rewarding (financially speaking)
How much money can you really save?
You still have to pay for all disbursements and Stamp Duty Land Tax.
Also bear in mind, if you’re buying with a mortgage, lenders won’t give you the money without appointing a solicitor to look after their interests.
They will charge you for this so you’ll end up paying for a conveyancer anyway, without getting any of the personal protection.
Given the risk of being held personally liable for any c*ck-up, is the potential reward (a £300-£600 saving) really worth the risk?
How much time can you really save?
It’s a fallacy to think you’ll dramatically speed up your transaction or save huge amounts of time by doing your own conveyancing.
True, you’ll benefit from two things:
- You give your transaction the utmost attention.
- You complete all tasks as soon as they surface.
…Few conveyancing solicitors can match that!
There’s one problem though – property transactions (especially when chains are a feature) involve many different parties.
No matter how efficient you are at executing the conveyancing process, your transaction will only proceed at the speed of the slowest party.
When not to attempt DIY conveyancing
Here are scenarios in which you should definitely avoid doing it yourself:
- Selling and divorcing at the same time (you’d have to be a real glutton for punishment to attempt that one).
- Buying or selling an unregistered property
- Buying or selling anything other than a freehold property (e.g. Leasehold or commonhold)
- The property is anything other than a house
- Buying or selling only part of a property (e.g. if you were selling a piece of your garden to a developer).
- Buying or selling at auction
- Buying with a mortgage
In fact, the only time you should even consider it is if you are selling a freehold registered house.
Successful ‘self’ conveyancing is achievable, we just don’t feel he risk is worth the reward.
Add to that:
- The disdain your buyer’s (or seller’s) solicitor will treat you with for having the gall to dabble in ‘The Law’.
- The possibility you make a mistake, become the cause of delays and lose your buyer.
Anyway, that’s our ‘two pennies’ worth’ but if you think we’re too negative and want a more positive perspective, read – The Conveyancing Fraud by Michael Joseph.
It’s a scathing expose on the conveyancing industry and is the perfect antidote to our more cautious viewpoint.
Further reading & helpful links
- Conveyancing document pack (selling) – Questbrook
- Conveyancing forms – Oyez Store
- Contract incorporating Standard Conditions of Sale – Oyez Store
DIY Conveyancing Books
- “Which?” Guide to Doing Your Own Conveyancing (Paul Butt)
- House Buying, Selling and Conveyancing (Joesph Bradshaw)
- Conveyancing explained in plain English
- Conveyancing process explained: For Sellers
- Conveyancing process explained: For Buyers
- How much should conveyancing fees cost
- How to choose your conveyancing solicitor
- How to deal with conveyancing complaints & problems
- Exchange and completion of contracts explained
- Conveyancing searches explained
- Step by step guide to extending your lease
- Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) explained