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.