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Buyers warned: Don’t cut corners by trying DIY conveyancing

Hard-pressed buyers who try to minimise house moving costs by doing their own conveyancing have been warned of the disastrous consequences if something goes wrong - and the impact any problem could have on a property chain. 

Caroline Murray of Graysons Solicitors in Sheffield says it may be understanding that it may be understandable the buyers try to save on transaction costs, which according to Totally Money now runs to £38,000 for an average house move - three times higher in London.

“Although doing your own conveyancing is legal, and possible in theory, you can only act for yourself in very few situations — either a transfer of equity, a cash purchase (so no mortgage) or a sale with no existing mortgage to redeem. Even then, it can cause a number of problems” she warns.

“All the paperwork involved requires a huge commitment of time and effort, not to mention a strong understanding of property law. But perhaps the biggest obstacle is that individual homebuyers do not have negligence insurance — this is only available to qualified legal professionals — which means that if you make a mistake in the conveyancing process you’ll be personally liable and the cost would end up being considerably higher” says Murray. 

In addition, a small number of mortgage lenders appoint their own solicitor to look after their interests before agreeing to lend money — a service which is charged to the buyers, meaning they will still be paying for conveyancing without any of the legal protection for themselves.

She says that research indicates it is often the unforeseen and hidden aspects of buying a home that ramp up the overall cost, rather than predictable outlays such as legal costs.

“Alongside the risk of bearing full responsibility for any possible mistakes, such buyers also face the difficulty of liaising with the sellers’ solicitor without having a conveyancing licence or extensive knowledge and experience of property law. For this reason we strongly advise against DIY conveyancing, and advocate using the services of a reputable conveyancing solicitor” she concludes.

  • Matt Faizey

    You have to laugh,

    It can't possibly be due to the horrendous reputation the conveyancing industry (imo the majority have lost the right to the word 'profession') are intent on cultivating.

    No, it's all about the costs.

    It cannot possibly be that for many of the public the only aspect of moving home they find dreadful, stressful, and wholly unappetising is the conveyancing and dealing with conveyancers? And so, as a result some are simply choosing to do it themselves on the grounds of 'even if I c%÷k t up it still will be 'less worse' than the possible experience with a conveyancer.

    Conveyancers are the cheapest part of this process now. The public ain't bypassing it to save money, they're doing it because of the awful reputation conveyancers have acquired.

    And unless many individuals wake up and smell the correct pot of coffee rather than the one with pretty pictures printed on the side it's only going to get worse for them.

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    Let's hope it is not because they feel they also have to budget for removal companies who forfeit the deposit if the public innocently have to cancel their removals booking, or if the removal men can't wait any longer to begin their weekend and so shoot off and require storage fees over the weekend. As surely removal companies will soffer cheap insurance to guard against that.

    Sadly we still encounter 'I want the cheapest conveyancing quote' seekers, who break our hearts as we know they are going to get what they pay for elsewhere - as they simply won't listen to the warning 'feel free to not use us, but never choose because they are cheapest, as cheap is always for a reason. Instead just make sure whoever you use has/does X,Y and Z'.

    So yes, saving conveyancing fees is still out there.

    But 100% saving by doing DIY? I can think of only twice in my career that I have faced a person doing their own conveyancing, and I had to warn my client at the start that I had to raise my fees as I had to guide the person throughout - naturally. And again, a real worry as they were not asking the right questions, but that was their choice.

    Has anyone else faced DIYers?

    But the article is right, as is part of the comment above; lawyers are now the cheapest part of the process - like agents are now doing to themselves - gone are the days of the %. Instead conveyancers have competed between themselves on who is the cheapest, and look where they are now, rock bottom pricing. Yet if they get it wrong, even the most trivial things (missing guarantees for windows!?, missing building control consents which then develop a repair bill etc) to the more serious (no legal access, missing land, an unpaid mortgage) can ultimately mean a lawsuit for the full value of the property, maybe even their professional insurance not covering their error and the law firm even closes.

    So even conveyancers can get it wrong, but imagine the untrained member of the public.

    But true, the quality between conveyancing firms is dramatic - hence choosing on price is a complete red herring - probably the worst I have seen in over 20 years now. So pick your conveyancer carefully and you will have a real supporting hand during the process, rather than an expensive parasite, a hidden charging profiteer, or a snail paced liability at your side.

    Use an expert conveyancer (they are out there) and don't think conveyancers are all the same - they are dramatically different. Seek out impressive conveyancing.



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