Conveyancing Without Solicitor
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from a seller to a buyer. Traditionally this was handled solely by qualified solicitors, but today alternate options like licenced conveyancers or DIY conveyancing exist. Some homeowners consider conveyancing without a solicitor to potentially save money on fees. However, attempting conveyancing independently carries considerable legal risks. This guide examines the conveyancing tasks involved, whether DIY conveyancing is feasible, and the merits of retaining a professional solicitor or licenced conveyancer to protect your interests when buying or selling houses.
Overview of Conveyancing Workflow
Typically, conveyancing solicitors handle the following key steps when buying or selling a residential property:
- Take initial instructions from clients and verify their identity.
- Request title deeds and documents from the seller’s solicitor to confirm ownership rights.
- Review draft contracts prepared by the seller’s solicitor.
- Raise pre-contract enquiries of the seller regarding the property’s history, boundaries, planning issues etc.
- Arrange property searches and analyse results for risks impacting the buyer.
- Negotiate terms between both parties and answer all enquiries.
- Facilitate the exchange of the final signed contracts and deposit transfer.
- Oversee the preparation of transfer documentation ahead of completion.
- Conduct pre-completion searches and finalise financial arrangements for completion.
- Execute completion day formalities like stamp duty payment and registration of the buyer as the new legal owner.
- Supply official copies of title documentation to the buyer post-completion.
Without a solicitor or conveyancer, buyers or sellers must navigate this complex process themselves.
DIY Conveyancing Considerations
DIY conveyancing without a solicitor appeals to some buyers and sellers wishing to save on professional fees. However, attempting this has several risks:
- Lack of legal knowledge – Conveyancelaws law and procedures are complex. Non-lawyers lack the expertise to progress sales correctly or protect their interests. Reversing mistakes is costly.
- Contract flaws – Inappropriate or flawed contracts can leave buyers exposed and fail to bind sellers. Only lawyers can draft watertight documentation.
- Missing information – DIY conveyancers may miss checking important details that affect the property’s ownership, value and use.
- Inability to exchange – Only solicitors or licenced conveyancers can exchange binding contracts and deposit monies between parties.
- Delays – DIY conveyancing often takes much longer trying to navigate all the steps and paperwork correctly. This frustrates sellers and buyers.
- Invalid completion – Completion formalities like stamp duty payments and registering titles require expertise. Mistakes risk invalid transfers of ownership.
- Lack of protection – Without professional representation, buyers and sellers have no recourse if issues arise like disputes or compensation claims.
Attempting DIY conveyance on anything but the most straightforward property sales is extremely precarious for buyers and sellers. The legal risks and delays usually outweigh any modest savings on fees.
Utilising Licenced Conveyancers
An alternative to solicitors that offer legal expertise combined with lower fees are licenced conveyancers. Licenced conveyancers undertake specialised training and receive licences to handle residential property conveyancing in England and Wales. While not fully qualified solicitors, they are still regulated professionals with specialist conveyancing knowledge. Typical services a licenced conveyancer provides include:
- Reviewing title deeds and drafting contractual documents
- Conducting searches and enquiries before the exchange of contracts
- Facilitating exchange and handling monies
- Managing the completion process
- Registering the buyer as a legal owner
Licenced conveyancers offer a prudent compromise that sensibly removes risks associated with DIY conveyancing while potentially saving on traditional solicitor fees. They focus exclusively on conveyancing transactions. However, they cannot provide wider legal advice beyond property matters that a solicitor could. Their services suit most standard conveyancing needs for potentially lower costs.
Benefits of Instructing Solicitors
For buyers and sellers, retaining a specialist conveyancing solicitor still offers advantages including:
- Expertise – Solicitors undergo extensive legal training and gain years of conveyancing experience. This provides greater protection for clients.
- Broader legal knowledge – Solicitors understand how property transactions intersect with areas like family, trust and inheritance law.
- Multiservice firms – Clients can receive integrated legal support for example divorce settlements or drafting wills.
- Litigation capabilities – Only solicitors can represent clients in court if conveyancing disputes escalate into legal proceedings.
- Reputation – An established law firm offers security and proof of quality standards and professionalism.
- Ongoing support – Solicitors offer continuing assistance with issues that arise after completion like boundary disputes.
For high-value or complex transactions, the benefit of a solicitor’s expertise and resources often outweigh small potential cost savings, especially given conveyancing solicitor fees are still competitive. Protection should take priority over cost for buyers and sellers during major property transfers.
While DIY conveyancing may seem attractive, the legal risks and delays involved usually outweigh any minor reductions in professional fees. Appointing a licenced conveyancer offers a prudent way to benefit from formal conveyancing training while aiming to reduce fees. However, retaining a solicitor gives buyers and sellers the greatest expertise, legal protection and assurance when undertaking property transactions like filling out a TR1 form Land Registry. For most buyers and sellers, the security of fully qualified legal representation justifies the investment.