The dangers of DIY conveyancing

Moving house is costly and it can be tempting to try and save money by attempting to do as much of the process as you can yourself. This might be cost effective for some aspects of the transaction, such as hiring a van and doing your own removals, however completing your own conveyancing is an element of the transaction where the risks involved are just far too high.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the legal title of property from one party to another. It can also often involve a mortgage and dealing with a Lender and other parties involved in the transaction (a chain), tax returns and the Land Registry. There is certainly a lot involved in the conveyancing transaction and parts are invisible to the buyer or seller.  

What does conveyancing involve?

Conveyancing is essentially a transaction. Of course, no transaction is ever like for like and depending on the age of the property, whether it is freehold or leasehold and many other determining factors all play a part. The fundamental elements involve the following:

  • Reviewing the legal title of the property 
  • Requesting information from the client, including proof of ID and details of the property involved
  • Liaising with the solicitor’s firm on the other side of the transaction.  
  • Liaising with the Mortgage Lender
  • Order and obtain Local Authority Searches
  • Review the Searches and property documentation and provide reports on these
  • Raise enquiries with the conveyancer on the other side of the transaction
  • Discuss and confirm dates for exchange and completion to take place
  • Arrange for contract documentation to be signed
  • Arrange for completion funds to be readily available for the appropriate times
  • Exchange and completion take place, normally with a small period of time in-between
  • Submit SDLT Tax Return
  • Liaise with the Land Registry

What are the dangers of DIY conveyancing?

There are a whole host of reasons why carrying out your own conveyancing is seriously risky. If you require a mortgage, the mortgage lender will insist on representation, and there also could be situations where the other sides’ solicitor requires an undertaking. Conveyancing requires intricate knowledge of property and land law, and that applies with the simplest of transactions, let alone with regards to more complex ones.

A serious question to ask yourself if you are contemplating the idea is, can you do your own conveyancing? Although without doubt there are many helpful websites and guides to carrying out your own conveyancing, there is no regulated or highly regarded DIY Conveyancing Kit which is going to ensure you have carried out and completed the transaction along with all the relevant documentation required to the level of a conveyancer. The following points require serious consideration:

Time: Do you have the time to complete the work required? Conveyancing can be lengthy and elements of the work required cannot be carried out until other tasks are completed. You need a full understanding of what needs to take place in the transaction at which points. 

Understanding: A comprehensive understanding of property and land law is required, not a basic one. If you fail to identify errors in documentation or do not have an understanding of the conditions of the contract you can potentially be putting yourself in a very difficult position. 

Mistakes: You could make mistakes that can have potential knock-on effects when it comes to the selling of the property in the future. You could also be held personally liable for mistakes and this can lead to significant costs. 

Fraud: Conveyancing fraud is an increasing issue in the UK and fraudsters are progressively sophisticated. Are you aware of what to look out for, and do you think you would be able to spot signs? 

Resources: Conveyancers have access to specialist Search providers and if you choose to carry out your own conveyancing, you will not have access to the regulated resources that you require. 

How much does it cost to use a legal professional?

Like any legal work there is very rarely a fixed cost and depends on a number of factors. However, as an approximate guide of what fees you could expect, a freehold sale for a property value of £350,000.00 starts from £1,495.00 plus VAT and disbursements and a freehold purchase for a property value of £350,000.00 starts from £1,695.00 plus VAT and disbursements. 

We quote on a bespoke basis and attempt to gain as much information as possible from the very beginning of the transaction which enables us to provide the most realistic estimate. We are transparent with our fees and there are no hidden costs involved with our quotations. There are instances where the legal fees may be higher due to additional works required for the review of additional documents or further reports. These are not restricted to but can include the following instances:

Legal costs:

  • Leasehold property
  • Shared ownership
  • Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA
  • Unregistered Property

There are other costs involved in the transaction, these are usually described as disbursements. These are costs not relating to the legal work required but are essential to regulations or to assist with the transaction. These again are not restricted to but may include the following:

Disbursements:

  • Anti-Money Laundering checks
  • Land Registry documents
  • Searches
  • Telegraphic Transfer fee
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Indemnity Policies

How can Goughs help?

Ultimately, conveyancing is complex and requires specialist knowledge and experience. An excellent conveyancer will be able to pre-empt problems and issues and find solutions to these issues, efficiently and effectively. A conveyancer will guide you through and aim to make the experience as stress free as possible. At Goughs we have the experience and knowledge to ensure that the sale or purchase runs as smoothly as possible, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of the move. Get in contact with a conveyancing solicitor today.

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Author Bio

Rachael Watkins

I am a Trainee Residential Conveyancer in the Residential Property Department and I am studying for my CILEX qualification. I started my career in law in 2021 as a Legal Assistant in the Land and Development Department at Goughs and gained great experience supporting the team. I have always had a passion for property and with the support of the Firm I started my training in the Residential Property Department in April 2023.

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