Although it is always recommended to hire a professional conveyancer, you can do their job and be your own solicitor in the process of either buying or selling a home. The popularity of DIY conveyancing has since increased, as more people want to save on fees and learn the process on their own for future purposes.
Doing it yourself is okay if there are no issues with the property ownership and land title or if you don’t need to take out a mortgage. If you’re buying a freehold property, the DIY way is likely a fairly safe option. If you’re buying leasehold or shared ownership property, it’s better to hire a professional.
Anyway, below are conveyancing steps when you have finally decided to buy a freehold property in a one-off payment.
1. You contact the seller or their solicitor to make your interest in buying the property known. The sales agent will provide you their contact information.
2. The seller’s solicitor will send you a draft contract, which you need to read thoroughly prior to approval. Upon reading the contract, make sure you understand and agree with the terms and conditions. If you’re not sure, consult a lawyer or at least look up the legal terms. Sale of land and house is accompanied by standard legal conditions to protect the interests of both the seller and buyer.
3. They will also send you copies of other documents, like property plan and title. Look into the land registry title. Make sure it bears the seller’s exact name and address. Any slight discrepancy in these details should be brought to the awareness of the seller’s conveyance solicitor. They have to make a sound explanation. Examine all the documents. Know exactly what property you’re buying to avoid regrets.
4. Do local searches. Don’t rely on the documents sent by the seller. Do your own local authority and land registry searches to know the ownership status of the property and its physical attributes. Compare data with what was sent to you. Again, report any discrepancy to the seller. These searches are not free. There are fees to be paid to corresponding offices. Anyway, this step is vital to your own conveyancing, especially if you don’t want to be tricked by your seller. Licensed conveyancers carry them out to find if the land is currently occupied or is being leased out or whether it’s on mortgage.
5. Write a formal letter to the seller, detailing all your queries regarding the documents submitted to you. Then wait for the response to your enquiry letter. You may continue with the settlement if there is no outstanding issue or if all your questions and doubts are resolved.
6. Contract signing becomes the conclusion of all this tedious paperwork. Both you and the seller take part in signing of the contracts. You and the seller will exchange contracts. At the same time, you will have to put a deposit, which is a small part of the total cost of the property (usually 10%, but may be as much as 30%), to the escrow account of the seller’s solicitor.
7. From the date you exchanged contracts, you have 30 days to pay off the remainder amount. During this time, you may conduct an inspection of the property or order a full structural survey at your own expense. This is also the time for you to move out.
8. Upon completion, you must have paid the remaining balance, thereby sealing the contract. It’s a legal procedure that serves as a proof that sale of property has occurred and you’re the owner of the property now.
If you’re doing this for the first time, cross your fingers and hope everything goes fine. While you may save on conveyancing fees and you may actually learn several things in the experience, the risks are especially intimidating for newbies. Keep in mind, you will be liable for any mistakes you make. Furthermore, some sellers will be unwilling to make transactions with you. Worse, the seller may take advantage of your naiveté.