Conveyancing - Investment

DIY conveyancing – could you do it yourself?

4 min read

Doing your own conveyancing might seem appealing if you're looking to cut costs, however, it may not be the best idea. Read our guide to find the pros and cons to DIY conveyancing.

  • Abigail Bolton Senior Digital Website and Content Marketing Executive
    Abigail Bolton

    SEO Specialist and Senior Copywriter

    Published June 12th 2024

young investor talking with his solicitor to see if he can do his own conveyancing

The costs for buying or selling a house can sometimes look overwhelming and may leave people wondering if there’s any way that they could cut costs by doing the conveyancing themselves. There are many factors which mean you’re not able to do the conveyancing yourself, however even when you are able to, the real question is, should you. As a rule of thumb, it’s not usually advised or recommended.

Remember – things usually aren’t free for a reason – if it was simple, everyone would do it!

If this is something you’re still thinking about, we have put some information on 'do it yourself' conveyancing which you should consider first.

Can you do your own conveyancing?

Although using a conveyancer isn’t a legal requirement, for most home moves, you really do need a conveyancer. Not only are there legal intricacies which only professionals will be able to deal with, however some mortgage providers require that you do use a conveyancer. If you wanted to opt for DIY conveyancing, and they did not, they may insist on having their own legal representation, which you would be charged for.

DIY conveyancing considerations

  • If it is a simple transaction, and you are a cash buyer it is possible for DIY conveyancing when buying or selling a property, as long as it doesn’t involve a mortgage lender.

  • You’d need to be prepared for the amount of paperwork coming your way! You’d also have to have lots of free time to commit to completing all of the documents (more about these later), and in a timely manner, especially if you’re involved in a chain. On average it takes professionals around 30 full hours spread across a few months (without accounting for when problems occur), however, it could take a newbie, learning on the go, much longer than this.

  • If you’ve had to read any form of contract before, you’ll know how confusing legal documents can be. You would need to have a very good understanding of legal jargon already, or at least the willingness to learn, and Google will likely be your best friend – it takes a minimum of 2 years for a conveyancer to train and they also must be licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) before undertaking any work, so it is by no means something that can be picked up with minimal effort.

  • Make sure to research all of the documents you’ll need to complete during the process. There are DIY conveyancing kits and useful support websites, such as HM land registry, that could help you at each stage, but make sure you have a full understanding of what needs completing before committing to doing it yourself, as it can be a difficult process. If you don’t look at what’s needed before you proceed, you’re at risk of missing a document or biting off more than you can chew, which could cause you problems further down the line.

  • If you’re dealing with other solicitors during the transaction, they may not like that you’re doing your own conveyancing and may challenge this or even refuse to deal with you. If there is a scenario where there are delays or inaccuracies, this could potentially lead them to advise their clients to favour other buyers or start looking for another house. It is worth knowing though, that although solicitors aren’t able to give you advice, they also shouldn’t take advantage of the lack of knowledge (if there is any).

How much money does DIY conveyancing save?

If cost are a big factor into why you considering doing your own conveyancing, you should consider how much you would actually save. Only a portion of the charges you pay to a conveyancer are their legal fees (which is where the main savings come from). There are other costs when buying a house to factor in which you would have to pay regardless including (but not limited to) ID checks, property searches, land registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax.

What tasks are involved in doing your own conveyancing?

DIY conveyancing when buying

  • Get in touch with the land registry or use a solicitor to verify your ID

  • Order the relevant property searches - when buying a property, there are a lot of property searches, some essential, and some optional (but recommended) which will need to be completed. If using a conveyancer, they will advise you of which searches are needed, order them and review them for you. Whereas, if doing the conveyancing yourself, you will need to arrange and order the appropriate ones (eg local authority search). The searches can change depending on where the property is located, and it will be up to you to ensure you have undertaken everything necessary.

  • Check that everything is ok with the legal title of the property.

  • Read through the draft contract, ironing out any issues, and raising enquiries with the seller

  • Check the legal papers such as the draft contract provided by the seller’s solicitor

  • Complete multiple forms throughout the process. This includes getting everything read, prepared and signed to exchange contracts.

  • Arrange the transferring of monies, the deposit upon exchange of contracts, and the remaining balance on completion.

  • Register your property’s new details with the land registry and pay any stamp duty due.

 DIY conveyancing when selling

If you’re carrying out DIY conveyancing when selling a property, more documents require completing and organising before anything can be signed over to the new buyers, these include forms such as:

  • Sales memorandum

  • Title deeds

  • Energy performance certificate

  • Property information form

  • Fixtures and fittings forms

  • Sellers property information questionnaire

  • Draft contract

You’ll then also need to check monies have been received at the exchange of contracts and on completion day and arrange the handing over of the keys.

Risks of DIY conveyancing

When using a conveyancer, you are covered by their professional insurance, however if you attempt to do your own conveyancing and something does go wrong, you will be liable. You could be at risk of getting taken advantage of, or you could provide incorrect information, meaning you could be sued. If this were to happen as you are liable and you would have to cover the potential legal fees and court fees.

When should you avoid DIY conveyancing?

Some property transactions are too complicated to not use a conveyancer or solicitor, you should avoid doing your own conveyancing when any of the below apply to your purchase or sale:

  • You are using a mortgage

  • The property is a leasehold

  • The property is a new build

  • The property is not registered on the land registry

  • You are purchasing a property where the sellers are separating

So, what will a conveyancer do?

  • Your conveyancer would take care of your ID verification. Although, this may seem like a small step in the process, it’s actually much more difficult to get with DIY conveyancing. Identities have to be verified before an application can be made to register the transaction if you’re doing the conveyancing yourself, you may need to get the land registry to verify your identity, if they are willing to do this. Alternatively, you will need to pay a solicitor to deal with the verification aspect. Documents can only be verified in person and only at the time the application for registration is submitted.

  • It is becoming increasingly common for conveyancers to charge a fee to complete checks on the other party's solicitor in order to help to prevent solicitor fraud. This is another way in which you are protected when using a conveyancer as they should include all of the latest checks and searches in line with the industry standard.

  • Your conveyancer will request all of the searches that you will need and review them to make sure everything looks ok. They will also pick up enquiries with the other parties’ solicitors.

Home documents on showing on shelves in office of new home

Need help with conveyancing?

If you have decided DIY conveyancing isn’t for you, or want to get a conveyancing quote to see what it would cost you, use our online calculator to get a quote today.

Look for costs to cut elsewhere

Although there would be a great sense of achievement gained from doing your own conveyancing, most people would advise against it, as, in most cases, the risks far outweigh the advantages. Therefore, we’ve suggested below some other ways you could look to cut costs:

  • Whether it’s your first home that needs completely kitting out, or you’re moving house and need a refresh, it’s likely that you’ll need at least some new furniture. Why not look at websites like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree to see if there are any furniture or white goods bargains. If you like a project, why not try to find pieces that could be upcycled.

  • Try and save money elsewhere in the moving journey. There are comparison websites and home setup services that can help save you money when you’re moving home. You can compare surveyors, mortgage deals, home insurance providers, moving companies, energy and internet providers etc. and comparing all of these means you will be getting the best offers and deals available to you at the time.

  • Watch out for hidden costs in legal fees. There are some companies that add in additional costs along the way which in turn bumps up the final costs. Look for companies with costs, such as stamp duty and ID verification, shown up front, so you know roughly what to expect. Some fees are also not payable until nearer to completion, allowing you to budget better and plan.

family enjoying breakfast in their new kitchen after selling old home and buying a new one

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