18th November, 2020
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 DIY conveyancing which you should consider first.
Do you really need a conveyancer?
For most transactions, 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 to factor in which you would have to pay regardless including (but not limited to) searches, land registry fees and stamp duty land tax (bear in mind these are currently reduced for some purchases due to the stamp duty holiday ending March 31st 2021).
- 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?
- Buying and selling houses can be stressful enough without the extra pressure of dealing with the legal elements and many forms and searches. If you are considering DIY conveyancing, although it is possible to do all of the searches yourself, make sure you’re okay with the amount of work involved beforehand.
- 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, but 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 DIY 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?
- Although it may seem like an unnecessary cost at the time, make sure you consider the above before DIY conveyancing, as any wrong moves could cost you more in the long run! On average the conveyancers at MHMC have built up over 14 years of experience each and have come across pretty much everything, so you’re in good hands, especially for the trickier bits.
- ID verification may seem like a small step in the process, however this is much more difficult to gain with DIY conveyancing. Identities have to be verified before an application can be made to register the transaction. Usually your conveyancer will take care of this, however if you’re DIY conveyancing you may need to get the land registry to verify your identity, if they are willing to do this: alternatively you will need to instruct 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.
- Each of our cases are allocated a named legal professional who will review your case and act on your behalf, all the way through from start to completion. Not only does this give you peace of mind that you have a dedicated conveyancer looking after you, but you also receive their direct phone number, so you can speak to them directly about any questions you have.
- Our eWay portal is there for you to view and load all of your required documents, making it as easy and stress-free for you as possible.
Look for costs to cut elsewhere
Although there would be a great sense of achievement gained from DIY conveyancing, most people would advise against DIY conveyancing, 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.
- Just like when getting insurance or looking for phone deals, there are comparison websites that can help save you money when you’re moving home. You can compare mortgage deals, 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 and fees that are all inclusive (like MHMC) and are shown up front, so there are no nasty surprises. Some fees are also not payable until nearer to completion, allowing you to budget better and plan.
We don’t have any hidden extras or hide things in our small print. For those buyers who are concerned about a sale falling through and winding up out of pocket, we also offer a no-completion, no fee service. If you would like to receive a quote for us to act on your behalf, please click here.