Conveyancing Solicitors may not like it but home buyers and sellers are completely at liberty to do their own Conveyancing.
It isn't without serious risk though and it may end up costing you more than you think.
The following article is intended to give an overview of the process and any pitfalls that await the unwary. It is not intended to be a process map for DIY conveyancing. We advise readers to purchase one or more of the books on the Essential Reading List and read other specific articles on this site.
Are you a 'Have a go hero'?
Unless you are an experienced conveyancer you will need to read around the subject to familiarise yourself with the process. Even experienced Conveyancing Solicitors are required to complete formal update training (CPD) every year to ensure that they stay current with ever changing procedures and protocols. *
If, having done some basic research, you intend to have a go at DIY Conveyancing then this article includes an essential reading list at the bottom. Needless to say, there is a wealth of information on the Internet, however DIY Conveyancers should seek out authoritative information sources wherever possible. Information found on the web can be spurious. **
DIY Conveyancing in theory
At its simplest, all that is required is for the buyer and seller to complete a formal written contract for the sale and then on the day of completion, the buyer will need to pay over the purchase money and receive from the seller a completed Land Registry Transfer form.
The buyer will then have to pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax and submit a completed application form to the Land Registry together with their fee.
In practice however, the 'DIY Conveyancer' usually runs into difficulty, so what problems await the unwary?
- If you are buying with a mortgage, then the lender will instruct their own Solicitors to do the legal work in connection with the registration of the mortgage, but you will have to pay their costs. You could therefore end up paying as much going the DIY Conveyancing route as if you had instructed your own Solicitor to do the legal work, since usually the buyer’s Solicitor can also act for the lender.
- Although Solicitors will be prepared to deal with individuals acting for themselves, they cannot give you any legal advice and will expect you to know what you are doing. Also the Land Registry staff cannot give specific legal advice. Typically the DIY Conveyancer runs in to trouble at the point of initially corresponding with the other side.
- Although Land Registry forms can be downloaded from their website, you may find it harder to obtain some of the other contract and search forms which you would need.
- In the course of a normal Conveyancing transaction, the Solicitors involved will usually give professional undertakings to facilitate various processes. Solicitors would be very unlikely to accept such undertakings from private individuals since they would be unenforceable.
Bearing in mind that a house is likely to be the most expensive thing you will buy or sell, is it really worth trying to save a few hundred pounds by carrying out the legal work yourself?
You could end up paying for a house and then finding that you don’t legally own it, or that there is some problem with the title or a planning problem which would make it difficult to sell when the time came. Solicitors must have professional indemnity insurance, so if they make a mistake you can recover your loss, also if they do not carry out the work properly or if you have other complaints you can refer them to the Legal Services Ombudsman.
Fridaysmove have a DIY Conveyancer rescue program, so if you have decided to 'have a go' and now find yourself in difficulty, call us now and we will help you out of difficulty.
Do-it-yourself Conveyancing is like do-it-yourself anything. Get it right and you save money; get it wrong and it will prove to be a false economy.
It is no exaggeration to state that poor-quality Conveyancing can result in buyers losing their new home, and their money, with nothing to show for their trouble but debt.
The serious risks of DIY Conveyancing
Despite the excellent resources a would-be DIY Conveyancer now has access to, we would strongly discourage a home buyer or seller from attempting DIY Conveyancing.
If a Conveyancing transaction is perfectly smooth, then a well-organised and prepared DIYer will save a couple of £100.
However, if even a small issue arises which requires further investigation or expertise to fix, and you then need to instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor anyway, wasting all the time and money you have spent thus far.
Worse, you may be tempted to overlook any problems which do arise (and that's if you spot them at all) which could lead to catastrophic results.
With the cost of a proactive, Fast Conveyancing Solicitor now so competitive, is it worth risking £100, 000s for the sake of a Cheap Conveyancing quote?
DIY Conveyancing Books - Essential Reading List
DIY Conveyancers will need to read as much around the subject before embarking on the legal process. The following list of books offer an excellent grounding as well as a reference library to work with during the process:
The "Which?" Guide to Doing Your Own Conveyancing
This DIY Conveyancing guide covers the Conveyancing on straightforward house buying or selling transactions. It covers the process from finding a buyer to post-completion, and offers advice on how to pick the best mortgage and avoid gazumping and gazundering.
House Buying Selling & Conveyancing
It is a misconception that only those who have endured long, expensive and comprehensive training through law school can possibly understand the complexities of conveyancing. This DIY Conveyancing Guide is written by Joseph Bradshaw who was once described in The Times as the 'guru of layperson Conveyancing'. The book which explains just how straightforward DIY Conveyancing can be. This is recommended reading for all house buyers or sellers who want to cut out the property solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
Straightforward Guide To The Process Of Conveyancing
This is a comprehensive guide to Conveyancing registered land taking into account recent changes in Conveyancing law, this conveyancing book deals with including the introduction of electronic Conveyancing and changes introduced in the 2002 Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act, this book will enable the layperson to understand this complex area of Conveyancing.
A Practical Approach to Conveyancing
Robert Abbey and Mark Richards
A Practical Approach to Conveyancing takes a pragmatic, rather than academic approach to conveyancing and is therefore of use to those interested in DIY conveyancing. It offers practical solutions to everyday conveyancing problems encountered by conveyancing practitioners.
This conveyancing book is now in it's ninth edition and contains precedent documents useful to the DIY conveyancer, clauses, and forms that provide the blueprint for highly effective procedural structures. Conveyancing check lists and key point summaries have been added throughout which makes it more accessible to those interested in DIY Conveyancing.
*At the time of writing, Februray 2012, the conveyancing sector is undergoing something of a revolution. Tightening lender panel requirements (see HSBC Conveyancing panel requirements by way of example), increased regulator pressure on anti fraud protocols, a consolidation of the market and the advent of the Legal Services Act all make for an uncertain future in the sector. Anyone contemplating DIY Conveyancing in 2012 should excuse added caution.
**The author is aware that offering a caution about the quality of information internet advice in an internet article creates a logical loop!