Do-it-yourself conveyancing can be attractive to people who do not want to deal with solicitors or are tight on money. However, by avoiding licensed conveyancing fees and doing it yourself – you may be opening yourself up to liable penalties if you make a mistake.
There are certain situations where DIY conveyancing can be advantageous, like if the transaction is simple (the property is freehold and registered), no land boundaries need to be changed, or if the buyer is a cash buyer.
There are better and easier ways to save money when buying or selling a house, so DIY conveyancing – should you do it? We’ll be covering the top questions on this topic in this article. Looking for something specific? Check the interactive menu below:
- What Is DIY Conveyancing?
- What Are The Pros Of DIY Conveyancing?
- When Should You Avoid DIY Conveyancing?
- What Are The Cons Of DIY Conveyancing?
- Can I Do My Conveyancing?
- Can I Sell A House Without A Solicitor?
- Why Do I Need A Solicitor When Selling?
- Do You Need A Conveyancer To Exchange Contracts?
- How Much Could I Save By Doing DIY Conveyancing?
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What Is DIY Conveyancing?
Usually, conveyancing is legally transferring a property’s ownership from one owner to another. DIY conveyancing is when you don’t use a legally trained solicitor or conveyancer during the process and do it yourself.
Conveyancing can often be one of the lengthiest parts of a house sale as the solicitor communicates with third parties like the HM Land Registry and local authorities to receive legal titles. If you decide to do DIY conveyancing, you should ensure that it is only used during simple transactions, not complex ones like a long property chain.
What Are The Pros Of DIY Conveyancing?
Many estate agents and solicitors will encourage you to use a conveyancing solicitor when undergoing a house sale or purchase. However, this thought process can be seen as needing to catch up as online conveyancing information is becoming increasingly available for people to do themselves. There are many benefits to DIY conveyancing, like:
- Speed Up The Process – The usual conveyancing process is slow because solicitors must communicate with multiple third parties or because they have large amounts of cases running at once. By doing DIY conveyancing, you can speed up the process by following online guides and automated systems – you will also be only focusing on one house sale instead of multiple, which will speed up the process dramatically.
- Cost Savings – With some solicitors costing upwards of £3,000 for the conveyancing process, DIY conveyancing can be desirable. Although you will still have to pay Stamp Duty and disbursements, you may dodge the three grand conveyancing fees.
- Hands-On Approach – If you are a person who enjoys lawyer jargon, knowing exactly where you are in the process, or that might even find the process fun, then DIY conveyancing will give you a hands-on approach that is thoroughly enjoyable.
When Should You Avoid DIY Conveyancing?
To minimise the risk of being sued or taken to court, there are specific scenarios in which you should never carry out your conveyancing:
- If the property is leasehold or anything other than freehold.
- If the property is not registered with the Land Registry.
- If the property is an unusual building (not a house or flat, i.e. a lighthouse, water tower or cold war bunker).
- If the sellers are divorcing or separating simultaneously as the transaction.
- If the buyer is purchasing with a mortgage.
- If you are buying or selling at an auction.
- If you are a first-time buyer.
- If the transaction is buying or selling only a part of a property. An example of this is if you are selling the garden to a property developer.
The only time you should be thinking about carrying out DIY conveyancing is if the property you are buying or selling is a registered, freehold house or flat where the other party or yourself is not undergoing a divorce.
What Are The Cons Of DIY Conveyancing?
Understandably, there are more cons to DIY conveyancing than pros. Conveyancing is a legal career that people train for years to master, so trying it yourself must take some great skill. Here are some cons of DIY conveyancing:
- Personally Liable – If you make a mistake during the process, you can be sued, taken to court and made to pay penalties to the other party — you will then also have to pay legal and court fees. Licensed conveyancers have negligence insurance to cover their backs, which you cannot receive. If you are the buying party, there are severe penalties for not meeting exchange deadlines.
- Mortgage Lenders – Mortgage providers will rarely accept anyone doing DIY conveyancing and will insist that the solicitor is on their verified panel.
- Change – As with every other industry, the legislation, procedures, and protocols are constantly changing, and you’ll need to ensure that you keep up with any changes or risk-causing mistakes in the process.
- Prejudice – Sometimes, other conveyancers won’t take you seriously as you don’t have the training, and although illegal, some conveyancers may try and take advantage of your lack of experience. DIY conveyancers have no helpline outside online forums, whereas conveyancers have the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
- Risk – With proper training and knowledge of Law Society protocols, the transference of money with supervision may be extremely safe. DIY conveyancing may also take much longer than usual, especially if you are inexperienced.
Can I Do My Own Conveyancing When Buying?
Yes, you can do your own conveyancing, but only if it’s during a simple property transaction, you are buying as a cash-buyer and if you are confident with the lawyer jargon and time that is involved.
If the property is being bought with a mortgage, then the lender will highly recommend that you use a solicitor — sometimes, they won’t allow you to buy with a mortgage if you don’t use a solicitor altogether. The mortgage lenders will recommend a trained solicitor or conveyancer that is a member of their panel to protect their interests.
Can I Sell A House Without A Solicitor?
Yes, you can sell a house without a solicitor, depending on the type of buyer involved in the transaction, if you are comfortable with lawyer jargon and are confident that you can carry out the legal process without opening yourself up to liabilities.
It’s also worth noting that if you make a mistake and are part of a property chain, you will become the ‘problem’ in the chain, and the risk of the buyer pulling out will increase tenfold.
Why Do I Need A Solicitor When Selling?
If you sell a property, you need to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a solicitor or doing DIY conveyancing. If you decide to do DIY conveyancing and carry out the process incorrectly, you may be liable to be taken to court and pay more fees than you would with a conveyancer.
During the DIY conveyancing process, if you make a mistake that opens you up to liabilities, then you are personally liable — if you hired a solicitor and made a mistake, then they will have a professional negligence insurance policy which will pay out.
Do You Need A Conveyancer To Exchange Contracts?
The short answer is no; you do not need a conveyancer to exchange contracts. However, you do need to follow procedural guidance and complete a transfer form. When the exchange of contracts occurs, you will need to ring the other party’s solicitor and make sure that the contracts are the same; if they are not, this may cause serious legal problems for you and the ownership of the property.
How Much Could I Save By Doing DIY Conveyancing?
Out of all the ways to save money during the house-buying or selling process, conveyancing is a much-debated topic. If you decided to go DIY, you would only be saving yourself from conveyancing fees ranging from £300 to £3,000, depending on the firm. As part of the legal process, you will still have to pay all the Stamp Duty Land Tax and disbursements — which is not cheap.
If you have any other questions, be sure to contact us — we are always willing to help!