The dangers of DIY conveyancing

The dangers of DIY conveyancing

By Nic Hopkirk

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Moving costs a fortune, right? So where can you save a bit of cash in the process? Never with the conveyancing process. Always get the professionals in for this bit.

Buying a home is a costly business. But trying to save cash by doing the conveyancing yourself is a risk that’s not worth taking.

The consequences could be nothing short of disastrous if anything goes wrong.

Unless you're a qualified conveyancer, you're unlikely to have the full-on grasp of property law needed for this intricate task.

Given the risks, the case for using a qualified, reputable conveyancer is, shall we say, persuasive.

Here’s why when it comes to conveyancing, the only way to go is with the pros.

What does conveyancing involve?

Conveyancing is the legal process you go through when buying (or selling) a property.

In short, it involves transferring the property ownership titles from one person to another.

A conveyancer will:

  • Review all the legal documents involved
  • Start the local authority and environmental searches, checking for things like flood risks and planning permission
  • 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

Find out more about what a conveyancer does when helping you buy your home.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

In short, usually several months.

The process starts when your offer is accepted on a property and ends when the money has been transferred to complete the purchase. That’s when you get the keys.

What are the dangers of doing conveyancing yourself?

While it is possible to do your own conveyancing, it takes a huge amount of time and effort.

Not to mention requiring a comprehensive understanding of property law.

If you fail to spot a boundary dispute, for example, the purchase could fall through. And that could have repercussions throughout the property chain.

You won’t have negligence insurance

Unlike qualified legal professionals, individual homeowners do not have negligence insurance. That means you could be held personally liable for mistakes in the conveyancing process and rack up significant extra costs.

How much does it cost to hire a conveyancer?

While prices may vary, legal fees are usually between £850-£2,000 including VAT at 20%, according to the HomeOwners Alliance.

But that price will vary depending on a number of factors. You may need to pay for additional searches if the property is near a river, for example.

Then there's what's called the cost of the 'disbursements'. They include:

  • Anti-money laundering checks, to verify your identity (£6-£20)
  • Securing the Title of Deeds (£6)
  • Transferring ownership (£200-300)
  • Local authority searches, such as drainage, environmental and local planning searches (£250-450)
  • Property fraud, to check the lawyer you're sending cash to is part of a real company
  • Telegraphic transfer or bank transfer fees, to ensure funds reach an account on a certain day (£20-£30)
  • Stamp Duty land tax (0-12% of the property price, so potentially many thousands of pounds)

Before appointing a conveyancer or solicitor, you have the right to see a full breakdown of the cost, including VAT.

This may only be an estimate, but it's worth requesting a quote before you decide to proceed.

How do I find a good solicitor or conveyancer?

It’s definitely worth getting recommendations from friends and family. And checking reviews and recommendations online.

Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Licensed conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Both are insured.

They’ll both do exactly the same job for you, but you may find that solicitors cost a bit more.

That’s because a solicitor is a qualified lawyer, with extensive training in many aspects of law. They can offer full legal services, such as taking someone to court.

Licensed conveyancers are specialist property lawyers, who focus mainly on residential property.

The HomeOwners Alliance is a good place to start when comparing quotes from solicitors or conveyancers.

The quotes have user ratings, showing which conveyancers people have had the best experiences with.

Search for a conveyancer with the HomeOwners Alliance.