A sunny street of Victorian terraced houses. What is Conveyancing? Can you do your own conveyancing? Answered by SAM Conveyancing
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Can You Do Your Own Conveyancing?

(Last Updated: 04/06/2020)
7 min read
Key Takeaways:
  • You can do your own conveyancing if it is a cash transaction (without a mortgage or loan). However there are many risks involved in undertaking the legal transfer yourself.
  • For most, the skills of an experienced conveyancing solicitor will be worth the cost.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is defined as the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another. It's a whole branch of law practised daily by countless solicitors, licensed conveyancers and paralegals throughout England and Wales.

The conveyancing process can seem quite involved if you've never bought or sold a property before although like many other processes, it always involves certain set procedures.

Typically you instruct your conveyancing solicitor to start carrying out your conveyancing process just after a seller accepts your offer (if you're a home buyer) or, if you're a seller, when you've accepted an offer from a buyer.

The process finally ends after you've got your keys to your new place, when your solicitor clears any stamp duty liability you have and registers your new residence with the Land Registry, using funds you've made available for these purposes.

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    Why is the Conveyancing Process so complicated?
It's true that at first glance there seems a lot to conveyancing, given that it has so many parts and can seem to take a long time to achieve.

But you just have to consider what's involved:
  • What's being bought/sold is comparatively expensive
    For most people, buying a home is the most expensive thing they'll ever buy. As much as possible, you'll want to get experts to check out your would-be purchase, to see if its fit-for-purpose and that it's what you think you're buying. As a seller, you'll want to be sure that the person who's looking to buy from you has the money in place to buy your asset.

  • There may be a number of different professionals involved
    You need a lawyer to look after the legal aspects of your home purchase or sale for you but you may well also want to get a surveyor to inspect a property as a buyer. If you're selling a lease (flat), you'll need to keep your freeholder informed. If you're buying with a mortgage, you'll have to book a lender's valuation, carried out by another surveyor. All of these professionals have to be accredited and they may need to talk to each other.

  • There are all sorts of legal issues involved
    When you consider that there are things like title deeds, large and complicated contracts, large sums of money changing hands and even things like planning permissions involved, you can see that there's quite a lot for your solicitor to get through. They'll need to gather all the documents they require and time to absorb all the details.

    What is the Conveyancing Process?
We break the conveyancing process down into 8 stages:

What is Conveyancing...the legal definition

conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property or land from one party to another

    How long does the Conveyancing Process take? what is conveyancing
In the main:
  • a standard freehold conveyancing may take between 6 and 8 weeks
  • a standard leasehold conveyancing may take between 8 and 12 weeks
  • a shared ownership conveyancing may take between 10 and 12 weeks
Theoretically conveyancing can take place on the same day or it might take years (if, for example, the parties agree that they're happy to complete on a date 18 months in the future), but the time limits above apply to the overwhelming majority of cases.

    Can an individual do their own conveyancing?
Theoretically and legally, yes... but with some huge caveats. Here are just a few:
  • Given the sheer volume of law which underpins conveyancing in England and Wales, you may find that you're quickly out of your depth.
  • Conveyancing solicitors do this work for a living and might take 8 weeks over it. If you're a beginner, you're likely to take much longer (and this time and your inexperience is unlikely to please your buyer/seller(!).
  • If you make a mistake, it may prove incredibly - even ruinously - costly. Property lawyers, on the other hand, have to carry public liability insurance to cover them - and you - if things go wrong.
  • Your buyer or seller is likely to have a solicitor representing them: you are likely to struggle to get this solicitor to accept you doing your side of the conveyancing yourself.
  • Every solicitor or licensed conveyancer firm has a client account for the use of storing and safely transferring large sums of cash efficiently. As a private individual you won't have this convenience and this fact in turn makes you more of a risk for someone intending to buy a property from or sell a property to you.
  • A solicitor's given word that they will do something - called an undertaking - such as to pay over the balance of completion monies, has legal meaning. They can only give an undertaking if they are professionally competent to do so and any issue with carry out an undertaking correctly can be a matter of professional misconduct for which they face being struck off if in breach. As a private individual, you cannot give such an undertaking and therefore cannot be relied upon in the same way.

    How much does Conveyancing cost?
Different conveyancing firms charge differently; some estimate and charge 'on the clock', some offer a fixed fee. You'll pay more for leasehold (flats) conveyancing than freehold (houses) because the process, which involves an extra party (you have freeholder, leasehold buyer and leasehold seller, not just freehold buyer and freehold seller) is more complicated legally.

You'll also pay a little more if you're buying or selling and a mortgage is involved. Shared ownership conveyancing costs more than leasehold conveyancing because once again, it's more complicated as it always involves a housing association.

You can generally expect to pay, as a final bill, depending on the firm, anything between £500 and £2,000 for a single conveyancing.

What are conveyancing fees?

Our experienced conveyancing solicitors offer great value for money and work on a fixed fee basis, with a No Sale No Fee Guarantee.

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Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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