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When buying or selling a house, more often than not there will be plenty of processes and paperwork, nevermind costs, involved along the journey to completing on your purchase or sale. So, in most transactions, solicitors are hired to take care of property conveyancing

However, while we would always recommend hiring a legal professional to help you with your transaction, it is indeed possible to do your own conveyancing, without the assistance of a lawyer. 

Below we take a look at what conveyancing involves; how to do conveyancing yourself and whether you should, along with the pros and cons of doing so; and why people often choose to hire a Conveyancing Solicitor instead. 

What does a conveyancing solicitor do? 

Before you decide whether or not you're going to do your own conveyancing, it's important to consider what's involved in the conveyancing process and the work that Conveyancing Solicitors often have to do to ensure a property transaction is as smooth as possible. 

As there are many legal and financial processes involved in any property transaction, whoever does the conveyancing must ensure they have thorough knowledge of the laws and regulations, and have the know-how to take care of work required. 

This is where, in most cases, a Conveyancing Lawyer comes in. Using their expertise and experience, solicitors such as those we work with at Homeware Legal, can handle all the tricky and potentially time consuming steps including: 

  • Checking the contract: The other party's solicitor will send the contract and supporting documents to your conveyancer. These will then be checked to make sure that everything is satisfactory and that it does not include any unreasonable conditions. 
  • Checking Land Registry titles: These can be very simple or cover several pages and will be checked to ensure it's for the correct property.
  • Clarifying any further information: After receiving the relevant forms, there are likely to be further questions, either about the property itself or the contents of the documents, which may be raised in an email. 
  • Searches and enquiries: These are carried out to obtain any information that might affect your property, including environmental risks and planning. At this stage, there may be more information needed, such as planning permission details for any extensions.
  • Agreeing a completion date: Once everything is in place, a completion date can be arranged. This is the date that the property will officially change hands. 
  • Facilitating the signing of contracts and arrange to exchange: A deposit will usually be required upon exchange, which will be held by the sellers' solicitors until completion.

In addition to the pre-exchange processes, there are a number of steps to take after contracts are exchanged, which may be complicated without a Conveyancing Solicitor handling them, including: 

  • Checking the sellers' contract: This should be identical to the one signed by the buyers and have the correct completion date.
  • Sending a completion information form: This is TA13 from the Law Society's website.
  • Preparing a draft Land Registry transfer: It's customary for the buyer's conveyancing solicitor to prepare a draft Land Registry transfer (TR1 form). This is then sent to the sellers' solicitors for checking and signing. 
  • Discharging the sellers' mortgage on the property: If the sellers have a mortgage on the property, or any other financial charges, the conveyancer will make sure that necessary undertakings are given to discharge them immediately on completion.
  • A Land Registry search: An official search with priority (form OS1) will check that there have not been any changes to the sellers' registered title. This also "freezes" the register, so no further changes will be made until the application for the transfer is submitted (this has to be done within the specified priority period). 
  • Sending the balance: On the day of completion, an arrangement will be made to send the balance of the purchase money by CHAPS transfer. When the money has been received, the keys should be released to you so you can move in.

After completion, a conveyancer will also ensure the signed transfer and any other title deeds are received, and the existing mortgage has been discharged. 

Your conveyancer will also deal with the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax and the registration of your ownership using form AP1.

Do you need a solicitor to buy a house? 

As already mentioned, you can - in theory - buy a house without hiring a solicitor for your conveyancing. In reality however, you may find that it isn't practical, or even possible, for you to take care of the processes involved by yourself. 

Again, there are plenty of factors and obstacles to consider when thinking about DIY conveyancing, such as: 

  • Buying a house with a mortgage: Most lenders will refuse self-conveyancing as they'll want a professional to take care of their interests. This is also why some lenders have a set panel of lawyers who they approve to work for them. The other side's solicitor could refuse to deal with someone who is representing themselves, which is becoming more common. So, for those who are not cash buyers, DIY conveyancing probably won't be an option. 
  • Legal understanding: Unless you have a fair amount of knowledge of the laws around conveyancing, including the Law Society's Standard Conditions of Sale, it can be difficult to find the most up to date regulations. Often, it's worth paying for a professional conveyancer to remove the hassle and stress of getting yourself tied up in the legal aspects. 
  • Getting hold of the correct forms: As mentioned above, there are many standard forms used in the process of a house purchase. Although these can be found on the Law Society website, TA6 and TA10, for example, can't be printed or downloaded. You might struggle to get hold of these forms or, at the very least, you could end up spending quite a bit of time searching for them. 
  • Exchanging contracts: Solicitors exchange contracts on the phone, in accordance with a protocol laid down by the Law Society. It is unlikely that you will be allowed to do this, as it requires undertakings to be given by legal professionals. You might have to go to the sellers' solicitors' office to do the exchange in person or send them your copy of the contract and deposit and ask them to hold them until you agree to exchange over the phone.
  • Personal responsibility: If anything goes wrong, you'll be held responsible and it could end up costing a lot in the long run. A  solicitor or conveyancer will have proper legal insurance in place to protect their client in this instance.

Do I need a solicitor to buy a house for cash? 

Of all the ways of purchasing a house, buying with cash is the option most suited to doing your own conveyancing. This is because, without having to get a mortgage, you won't have to worry about lenders' rules and restrictions against working with self-conveyancers. 

Even so, we would still recommend hiring a Conveyancing Solicitor when buying a house for cash, just to be sure that everything is being taken care of, correctly, efficiently and - importantly - with minimum stress to yourself. 

Do I need a solicitor to buy a house at auction?

Due to the nature of buying a house at auction, which involves the majority of legal process and paperwork being completed before the hammer falls, it is strongly advised that you get help from an expert, such as a Homeward Legal Auction Conveyancing Solicitor, to assist you with your purchase. 

Additionally, as you are committed by a legally-binding contract to buy any property you win at auction, and therefore committed to pay your deposit straight away and complete within a set time frame,  it pays to ensure all due diligence and research is carried out on the house you're interested in before you bid. This is why it is important to instruct an experienced auction conveyancer ahead of time.

Do I need a solicitor to buy land?

When buying land, we highly recommend hiring a solicitor to take care of your conveyancing for you. 

This is because, in addition to similar processes, regulations and hurdles to those encountered when buying a house, there are unique challenges involved with a land purchase. Other factors to take into account include any proposed development plans, planning permission, access rights and environmental searches.

Buying land can often present more challenges than a house purchase, especially if you're taking out a mortgage to help fund your transaction.

Do I need a conveyancer for a remortgage? 

If you're simply changing to a new deal or borrowing more money from your current lender, then you won't need a conveyancer or solicitor for this. However, you will need to use the services of a professional if you're changing lenders or adding or removing someone from the mortgage. 

Do I need a solicitor to sell my house?

As the process involved in selling is similar to that of buying, we would recommend hiring a Conveyancing Lawyer.

If you do wish to sell your house without a solicitor, you'll still need to prepare contracts, liaise with the buyers' solicitor, approve the transfer and deal with any legal complexities. Plus, you won't have the insurance should anything go wrong during the process.

Please note that if you have an outstanding mortgage, you won't be able to do your conveyancing yourself. 

Do I need a solicitor to transfer ownership of a property? 

There are a number of reasons for a transfer of equity in, or ownership of, a property. These often include changes in circumstances, such as a marriage or divorce, which requires a transfer to a husband or wife, or children perhaps. 

Because such transfers are usually due to a change in circumstances, they can be quite complicated and often sensitive or tricky matters, with several financial and legal implications to consider. 

Therefore, we recommend, for any transfer of equity or ownership, that an expert Conveyancing Solicitor is hired to take care of the transfer, to ensure any and all transactions are dealt with smoothly and efficiently.

Can I do my own conveyancing? 

As we've already mentioned, if you have the time, patience and knowledge to be able to handle all the processes involved, you can do your own conveyancing. 

Before doing so however, we would encourage you to consider your reasons for wanting to do your own conveyancing, bearing in mind that it is not necessarily cheaper or quicker to do so, and that you may encounter difficulties, particularly if your property transaction involves a mortgage. 

In our expert opinion, based on our years of experience, it is always better, safer and easier to hire a Conveyancing Solicitor instead. 

Can I do property searches myself? 

You can do property searches yourself, yes. In fact, anyone can order property searches when buying or selling a house. 

This doesn't necessarily mean you should, or would want to however, as you'll need to have an understanding of what any search results mean. 

Plus, if there are any issues with your searches, you won't be covered by insurance for any legal fees or compensation, whereas a qualified conveyancer would be. 

How much money could I save through DIY conveyancing? 

If you're considering doing your own conveyancing it is likely that you - like most people who look into DIY conveyancing - are doing so because you're looking to save some money during your property transaction. 

However, the amount of money you could save, especially when you take into account the time, effort and work involved in doing your own conveyancing, might not be as beneficial as you may think. This is because, when doing your own conveyancing, you still need to pay for the following: 

  • Searches
  • Surveys
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • HM Land Registry fees
  • Potentially a mortgage lender's solicitor

By doing your own conveyancing, you're likely to only save on the cost of solicitor fees and any VAT. With all this in mind, it's easy to understand why many people opt to hire a solicitor for their conveyancing. 

Is it faster to do my own conveyancing? 

Another reason why you may be considering doing your own conveyancing, in addition to trying to save money, is to try and save some time too. Once again however, DIY conveyancing may not save you as much time as you might think. 

Yes, unlike a solicitor who is dealing with many cases on a daily basis, you will be able to dedicate your time to your own transaction and complete necessary tasks and paperwork as and when you need to, but there is still a potential hurdle to consider - the efficiency and proficiency of the other parties. 

So, while you might be able to do what you need to quickly, it's not guaranteed that everyone else involved in your transaction can or will, so there is always a risk of delays. 

Therefore, you may consider that the small chance to save some time is not worth the potentially large risks involved in doing your own conveyancing. 

So what are the risks of DIY conveyancing? 

Even if you have the time and freedom to do your own conveyancing, without the legal knowledge and protection that a Conveyancing Solicitor can offer, there are plenty of risks involved. 

With DIY conveyancing you risk:

  • Not being able to get a mortgage
  • Making mistakes that may cost extra in repeat searches, surveys and tax
  • Buying a property that's non-saleable, or can't be registered after completion
  • Not realising or understanding any obligations associated with being a seller, potentially leaving you open to being conned or sued
  • Being liable for any losses, as you don't have legal insurance
  • Delaying the conveyancing process or property transaction, due to lack of knowledge

In short, depending on your experience, confidence and circumstances, the risks of doing your own conveyancing may outweigh any benefits. 

When should you avoid doing conveyancing yourself?

While we don't recommend attempting to do your own conveyancing in most situations, you are of course entitled to do so if you wish, at your own risk. 

In some cases however, we do strongly advise against DIY conveyancing and recommend hiring a solicitor before even having a go at your own conveyancing, as you're likely to encounter processes that are best left to a professional. 

Situations such as: 

  • When buying or selling an unregistered property
  • When buying or selling at auction or through a sealed bid
  • When buying or selling anything other than a freehold property
  • When buying or selling only part of a property
  • When buying without a mortgage 
  • When the property is anything other than a house or flat
  • When the sellers are filing for divorce or separating

Still want to give DIY conveyancing a go? 

If you're still sure you want to try DIY conveyancing on your property transaction, it's a good idea to make sure that you're well-equipped with knowledge of the laws, you're a cash buyer and it's a simple purchase. There are some useful guides by The Land Registry we recommend referring to, and all the registry forms can be freely downloaded.

I've decided against DIY conveyancing, how can I find a Conveyancing Solicitor near me? 

Homeward Legal work with Conveyancing Solicitors around the country, so you can be sure that we'll find the right lawyer for you. 

Let us help with your conveyancing needs: get an online quote now in just a matter of minutes, or alternatively speak with a member of our friendly, expert team. You can give us a call on or request a callback

Updated 08.11.23

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