Conveyancing
The short answer is yes. You can do your own conveyancing. But (and isn’t there always a ‘but’?) the question is really ‘should I be doing my own conveyancing?’ The short answer to this is probably no. Let’s look at conveyancing in more detail. Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of one property to another owner. It secures the rights to the land you have purchased, the title deeds and alerts you to any potential issues before you become legally committed to the property. Every legal specialist in any field will tell you how complex their area of expertise and how the process can’t be left to chance. It’s become such a cliché that it’s hard to separate the necessity of professional services from the extra add-ons. Conveyancing is no different. And if you choose a professional you can choose from qualified licensed conveyancers who specialise in this field as well as solicitors.

But let’s look at some Realities of DIY Conveyancing:

  • You can save money. But often the financial gain is only a few hundred pounds compared to the risks involved. You’re only saving on professional fees. Stamp duty and other fees will still have to be paid.
  • Risks? Yes. Obviously if you are doing your own conveyancing you risk missing something. And what’s more, you are personally liable if things go wrong. A conveyancing solicitor would have insurance, and be accountable to the industry if anything were to get missed. What if you make a mistake and lose the buyer?
  • You’ll need to learn the walk and the talk. There will be plenty of paperwork and legal documents are filled with legal jargon. Here’s a legal dictionary to help. Or not help…
  • Your mortgage company probably won’t let you. You’re borrowing their money, they want things done in a certain way. Most will only use from a panel of solicitors of their choice. So not only can you not do it yourself, you might not even get to choose your own conveyancing solicitors.
  • You could save time – because when something comes in you can give it your full attention straight away. Is there any solicitor who can claim that? But your transaction will only proceed as quickly as the slowest person in the chain. So, in real terms you won’t be speeding up anything.
  • Remember when that upstart came to your office and tried to tell you your job? That’s what the other solicitors in the process will be thinking about you. Don’t expect them to be tripping over themselves to make your journey easier.

When You Should Definitely Not DIY

DIY conveyancing might be an option if the transaction is simple. If you’re buying a freehold house or flat without a mortgage, and that’s registered with the Land Registry, DIY conveyancing is potentially an option for you. Perhaps it’s the only scenario where doing it by yourself is an option. But you should definitely avoid doing your own conveyancing if you’re involved on one of the following types of property transaction:
  • If the property is leasehold or commonhold
  • If the property is not registered with the Land Registry
  • If the property is commercial and not a house or flat
  • If the sellers are divorcing or separating, especially if you are the seller
  • Buying or selling at auction
  • Selling or buying part of a property… for example you might be selling that sliver of land at the end of your garden.

Final Thoughts

There are certainly financial positives to DIY conveyancing. But is the reward really worth it? With savings likely to be in the region of a few hundred pounds the risks probably outweigh the savings. DIY conveyancing is laboured and involves a lot of paperwork. Plus you’ll be learning as you go. Moving house is expensive and if you want to save money there are better ways to do so. Shop around for the best conveyancing quotes for your move. Get the best energy bill tariffs and ensure you are paying no more than you need to for any house or life insurance. In the long term, it doesn’t pay to skimp in areas that are important.