With moving costs high, you may be tempted to save some cash by doing the conveyancing yourself. But this could be an expensive mistake...
Buying a home is a costly business, but hard-pressed individuals who try to minimise costs by doing their own conveyancing need to be aware there could be disastrous consequences if anything goes wrong.
Few of us have enough time nor sufficient understanding of property law to do the conveyancing ourselves. Here we take a closer look.
What does conveyancing involve?
Conveyancing is the legal process you go through when buying (or selling) a property and involves transferring property ownership titles from one person to another.
A conveyancer’s tasks will include reviewing all the legal documents and starting the necessary local authority and environmental searches, such as checking for flood risks and planning permission.
The conveyancer will also check the contracts drawn up by the seller’s conveyancer, liaise with the mortgage lender to ensure all the necessary information has been provided, pay all the related fees and register you as the new owners of the property with the Land Registry.
To find out more about what a conveyancer does, read: What does a conveyancer do?
How long does it take?
The conveyancing process starts when your offer is accepted on a property and ends when the money has been transferred to complete the purchase and receive the keys. It can often take several months.
What are the dangers of doing it yourself?
While it is possible to do your own conveyancing, it takes a large amount of time and effort and requires a comprehensive understanding of property law.
If you fail to spot a boundary dispute, for example, the purchase could fall through, which could have repercussions throughout the property chain.
You won’t have negligence insurance
Unlike qualified legal professionals, individual homeowners do not have negligence insurance, meaning you could be held personally liable for mistakes in the conveyancing process and rack up significant additional costs.
Use a professional
Given the risks, the case for using a qualified, reputable conveyancer to ensure the correct protocol are met and the purchase is legally binding is persuasive.
How to find a reputable solicitor / conveyancer?
When choosing your conveyancer, it’s important to do your research, as quality will vary from one firm to the next.
You may want to get recommendations from family or friends. It’s also worth checking reviews and recommendations online.
In addition, you could check out Zoopla’s MoveIt tool which can help you compare conveyancing solicitors based on price, service and location.
For more information on appointing a conveyancer, read 9 checks to make when choosing a solicitor.
How much will it cost?
While prices may vary, legal fees are typically £850-£1,000, including VAT at 20%, according to the Money Advice Service.
Before appointing a conveyancer or solicitor, you have a right to see a full breakdown of the cost, including VAT. This may only be an estimate, but it is worth requesting a quote before you decide to proceed.
New transparency rules have been introduced
At the beginning of December 2018, new rules on pricing and transparency from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) took effect.
These rules involve firms offering certain services putting price and service information on their websites and in other media.
The aim is to give home-buyers the facts they need to make informed choices by providing more accurate estimates for the fees they’ll have to pay.
While enforcement will be light-touch at first, it is hoped to be a step forward in making the industry both more transparent and competitive.
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