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, but 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.
Do you really need a conveyancer?
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, but as a rule, mortgage providers won’t even offer you a mortgage if you wanted to opt for DIY conveyancing, and if they did they would insist on having their own legal representation, for which you would be charged.
DIY conveyancing – the basics
Although not advised, if it is a simple transaction, it is possible for DIY conveyancing when buying or selling a property, as long as it is a cash transaction rather than involving a mortgage lender. Additionally, in cases such as leasehold properties, properties which are not registered on the land registry and purchasing a property where the sellers are separating, it would not be appropriate to do yourself due to the additional intricacies.
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 there are problems that 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.
Consider how much you would actually save. Only a portion of the charges you pay to your conveyancer are 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) searches, land registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax.
If you’re dealing with other solicitors during the transaction, they may not like that you’re DIY 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).
Can you do your own searches?
If you’re acting as your own conveyancer when buying a property, there are a lot of searches, some of which are essential and others which should ideally be completed, however aren’t essential – completion of all is highly recommended though. These searches could include a local authority search, drainage and water search, an environmental search etc. 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. In addition to the searches you would also have to read through the draft contract (ironing out any issues), check the legal papers (provided by the seller’s solicitor) and check that there aren’t any complications with the legal title of the property. For buyers, DIY conveyancing also doesn’t stop there, there are also forms to fill in after the contracts have been signed.
On the flip side, 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 a property information form and the fixtures and fittings forms.
WATCH OUT – if the searches, such as land registry search, aren’t carried out properly, or some are missed, big problems could arise even after you have completed on the house. When using a conveyancer, you are covered by their professional insurance, but 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.
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 parties 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.
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.