DIY Conveyancing Guide
If you’re buying or selling a home, it can be an exciting time, but it can also be a complex and daunting process. From all of the paperwork you’ll need to complete to handling the financial aspect of property purchase and sales, there’s a lot to navigate. That’s where conveyancing comes in. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, a seasoned homeowner, or an investor, understanding the ins and outs of conveyancing in the UK is crucial. Many people these days are looking to cut the conveyancing costs they’ll experience out of the process, though, and handle it on their own. Is DIY conveyancing a good idea? What does conveyancing mean anyway? Is there a way to handle things faster and cheaper? This quick guide can help you sort out all of your concerns.
What Is Legal Conveyancing?
Before you understand whether it’s a good idea to handle your conveyancing, it may help to better understand the process as a whole. Conveyancing is the word that describes the entire legal process of moving the property from one person’s name to another. It involves various legal and administrative tasks that help create the transfer of property ownership. Typically, conveyancing is carried out by a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer who specialises in property law, but that’s changing thanks to online conveyancing firms and those who wish to handle the entire process on their own.
A Closer Look at Traditional Conveyancing
Understanding property conveyancing and whether this is something you’d like to handle on your own, may help to understand what happens during the traditional conveyancing of property. The process has three major stages: before the contract is signed, the exchange of contracts, and the day of completion. Before the contract is signed, the conveyancer conducts various searches and checks, such as local authority searches, environmental searches, and title checks, to gather relevant information about the property. Then, the conveyancer prepares or reviews the necessary legal documents, such as the contract of sale and transfer deed. After that’s complete, the conveyancer raises inquiries with the seller’s solicitor to clarify any concerns or queries about the property. This stage may involve negotiations regarding the conditions of the sale.
The next step involves exchanging contracts. Once both parties are satisfied with the terms, the buyer and seller sign identical contracts, and these contracts are then exchanged. Those contracts list the day of completion. Once those contracts are exchanged, the transaction is legally binding. The buyer usually pays a deposit (typically a percentage of the property price) to the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer upon contract exchange.
The final step is the day of completion itself. On the agreed completion date, the remaining funds from the buyer are transferred to the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. The seller hands over the keys, and legally speaking, the buyer owns the property. Then, the conveyancer registers the change of ownership with the Land Registry and ensures that any applicable taxes, such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, are paid. They may also handle the repayment of any existing mortgages or other financial charges on the property.
What Do Online Conveyancers Do?
As you research the conveyancing process, you’re likely to come across two alternatives to the traditional process described above online conveyancing and DIY conveyancing. Online conveyancing is growing in popularity because it’s a fairly inexpensive way of handling conveyancing in the UK.
It’s important to note that the specific process of online conveyancing may vary depending on the online conveyancer or platform used. Different service providers may offer additional features or steps. In general, though, online conveyancing starts when you select an online conveyancer or solicitor who specialises in the process. Once you have chosen an online conveyancer, you will typically provide them with the necessary details and instructions to begin the process. This may include information about the property, parties involved, and any specific requirements or concerns. The conveyancer will guide you through the registration process for their online conveyancing platform. This may involve creating an account, setting up secure access, and providing necessary identification documents. The online conveyancing platform will facilitate communication between you, the conveyancer, and other involved parties. You can communicate through instant messaging, email, or video conferencing. Then, the conveyancer begins his or her work. As with traditional conveyancers, they will conduct property searches and due diligence using online resources and databases. They will gather information about the property’s history, local authority regulations, environmental factors, and other relevant details. Then, they prepare documentation like the contract of sale, transfer deed, and mortgage documents. These documents can be shared digitally for review and signing. Throughout the process, the online conveyancing platform provides real-time updates and notifications on the progress of the transaction. You will receive alerts about key milestones, outstanding requirements, or potential issues, ensuring transparency and timely communication. Once all necessary tasks are completed, the conveyancer will arrange for the completion of the transaction. Funds are transferred, and legal ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer. The conveyancer will register the change of ownership with the Land Registry.
What’s Different About The Conveyancing Steps If You’re Doing It Yourself?
If you’re planning to handle your conveyancing when selling a house, it’s important that you learn the conveyancing process step by step in the UK. That’s because conveyancing involves intricate legal processes, regulations, and paperwork that can be challenging for individuals without legal training or experience. DIY conveyancing may result in errors or omissions in legal documents, which can have serious consequences and lead to delays, disputes, or even legal complications.
This problem leads many to ask whether you’re even allowed to handle your conveyancing. In short, yes. There are times, though, when you may not be allowed to handle it on your own. That’s particularly true when purchasing a property with a mortgage. Many mortgage lenders require the involvement of a solicitor or conveyancer who is on their approved panel for mortgage-funded purchases.
It’s also true with a leasehold transaction. Conducting conveyancing for a leasehold property can pose additional challenges compared to a freehold property. Apart from the standard conveyancing tasks, verifying the lease details is also necessary.
Additionally, if the transaction is linked, such as when a purchase is being funded by a sale or if you are part of a chain, DIY conveyancing becomes more intricate and complex.
If you’re sure this is a task you want to handle, you’ll start by gathering relevant information about the property, including its title deeds, survey reports, and any existing mortgage or charges. You’ll often need to visit a variety of different sites to get all of the information you need, as it’s not typically all housed in one spot. Then, you need to conduct property searches, including local authority searches, environmental searches, and flood risk assessments, to gather information about the property’s history and potential issues. After that, you should engage in negotiations with the other party to agree on the terms of the sale or purchase, including price, conditions, and any additional agreements. Then, prepare or review the necessary legal documents, such as the contract of sale, transfer deed, and any additional agreements or clauses. Ensure that the documents accurately reflect the terms and conditions of the transaction and comply with legal requirements.
Once you’ve written the contract, it’s time to exchange contracts with the other party, legally binding both parties to complete the transaction on a specified date.
On the day of completion, you’ll arrange for the transfer of funds to complete the purchase and notify the relevant authorities and organisations about the change of ownership. Finally, you’ll need to register that change of ownership with the Land Registry. Sound complex? That’s because it is. While DIY conveyancing can save you money, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of handling it yourself.
The Conveyancing Process In The UK – Should You Handle It Yourself?
Tackling this part of the sale of your home or the purchase of a new one on your own can be a little overwhelming. It comes with both advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of DIY Conveyancing:
- Cost Savings: One of the main advantages of DIY conveyancing is the potential cost savings. By avoiding professional fees, you can save a significant amount of money, especially if you have the knowledge and confidence to handle the process yourself. On average, you can expect to pay between £800-£2,000 for conveyancing.
- Personal Control and Involvement: DIY conveyancing allows you to have complete control over the process. You can personally handle all aspects of the transaction and be directly involved in negotiations, paperwork, and decision-making.
- Flexibility and Convenience: Undertaking DIY conveyancing gives you the flexibility to work at your own pace and convenience. You can manage the process according to your schedule and preferences without relying on the availability of a professional.
Cons of DIY Conveyancing:
- Lack of Expertise and Knowledge: Conveyancing involves complex legal procedures, regulations, and paperwork. Without professional expertise, you may be unfamiliar with the legal requirements, potential risks, and nuances of the process, which can lead to mistakes or oversights.
- Potential for Errors and Delays: DIY conveyancing increases the risk that you may make a legal error in the process, which can lead to delays, disputes, or even legal complications. Misinterpretation of contracts or missing crucial details may have long-lasting consequences.
- Limited Access to Legal Support: DIY conveyancing means you won’t have access to the guidance and support of a professional conveyancer or solicitor. If complications arise or legal advice is needed, you may struggle to navigate the issues effectively and may need to seek assistance at an additional cost.
- Time and Effort: Undertaking DIY conveyancing requires a significant investment of time and effort. Researching legal requirements, completing paperwork, coordinating with various parties, and handling administrative tasks can be time-consuming and potentially overwhelming.
- Potential for Financial Loss: Mistakes in DIY conveyancing can result in financial loss. Inaccurate property searches, incomplete due diligence, or errors in the contract may lead to unforeseen costs, disputes, or even the collapse of the transaction.
- Limited Protection: DIY conveyancing lacks the professional indemnity insurance that conveyancers and solicitors carry. This means you may be personally liable for any mistakes or negligence during the process, potentially exposing you to financial risks.
It’s important to carefully consider your knowledge, capabilities, and comfort level with legal processes before deciding to undertake DIY conveyancing. As you can see, there are more drawbacks than benefits. Engaging a professional conveyancer or solicitor provides expertise, peace of mind, and protection throughout the complex property transaction.
Is There A Better Way To Save On Property Conveyancing In The UK?
Fortunately, you don’t have to handle the process on your own to save at least some money. You do have other options. That process starts when you choose your conveyancer wisely. Obtain quotes from multiple conveyancers or solicitors and compare their fees. Look for a balance between competitive pricing and quality service. As you work to compare those quotes, though, ensure what you have in front of you includes all necessary costs to avoid unexpected expenses later. You’ll also want to be sure the quotes include all of the same services so you’re comparing them on an apples-to-apples basis.
Keep in mind that some traditional conveyancers offer fixed fee options. These can offer you certainty about the cost upfront. This can be beneficial if you prefer to have a clear understanding of the expenses and want to avoid any surprises later on.
If you still don’t see numbers you like, remember that online conveyancing services often offer competitive pricing thanks to their streamlined processes and reduced overhead costs. They may fit better into your price range. Research reputable online conveyancers and compare their fees and customer reviews to evaluate whether this might be the better choice to meet your needs.
Whether you choose to work with an online or offline conveyancer, don’t hesitate to negotiate for potentially lower fees. While not all professionals may be open to negotiation, it’s worth discussing your budget and exploring if any adjustments can be made.
Remember, while cost-saving is important, choosing a conveyancer or solicitor who provides reliable and high-quality service is equally crucial. Balancing affordability with professionalism and expertise will help ensure a smooth and successful property transaction. While DIY conveyancing is an option, it should only be undertaken after much consideration. It could create far more hassle than you ever imagined, and in the long run, spending the extra money to work with a professional may be worth it.