After stamp duty land tax and possibly removal costs, the most expensive aspect of buying a home in Wimbledon is most often the legal fees.

Known as conveyancing, this is the 11-stage legal transfer of property from seller to buyer that is most commonly carried out by a solicitor, licensed conveyancer or legal executive.

buy to let wimbledonHowever, with the average price of a property in Wimbledon Village now standing at over £1.5m, many purchasers wishing to save money on a move ask Robert Holmes & Co: Can I carry out the conveyancing myself?

The Legal Services Act 2007 makes it a criminal offence for an unqualified person to draw up or prepare a contract for sale, transfer, conveyance lease or mortgage relating to land for a fee.

The law also states that a solicitor should not deal with an unqualified person unless he or she has clear evidence that no offence under the Legal Services Act 2007 will be committed.

If you can prove that you are not charging yourself a fee – or paying an unqualified professional to do the conveyancing work on your behalf – the law does not prevent qualified solicitors dealing with DIY conveyancers.

If any property that you are selling or buying has a mortgage attached to it, however, going down the DIY conveyancing route is not advisable.

Here’s why…

If a home-mover is using a mortgage to part-fund their new property purchase in Wimbledon, the mortgage lender will insist on legal representation.

In the vast majority of cases, the same solicitor acts for both the property buyer and the mortgage lender.

While purchasers are entitled to tell a mortgage provider that they do not want to be represented by a nominated solicitor, the home buyer would still have to pay the mortgage company’s legal fees, which will not be much – if any – less than the solicitor would charge to act for both parties.

Therefore, there’s no financial advantage to be gained by the purchaser carrying out their own conveyancing.

Vendors with a mortgage that will be paid off from the proceeds of the property for sale in Wimbledon are also unable to carry out their own conveyancing.

This is because they will not have the DS1 or END1 forms needed to remove the lender’s charge at HM Land Registry on completion because the lender will not issue the discharge document until after it has received the redemption funds.

In this situation, the purchaser’s solicitor has to rely on an undertaking from the seller’s legal representative to repay the mortgage and to provide the discharge documents in due course.

There are two reasons why an unqualified individuals carrying out their own conveyancing cannot be relied on to give this undertaking…

1. A solicitor risks being struck off for failing to carry out the undertaking.

2. All solicitors are obliged by law to carry professional indemnity insurance. If for any reason your solicitor made a mistake that led to a client or third party suffering loss then the insurance policy would repay that loss.

Therefore, if a seller’s solicitor is unable to produce the discharge documents when they are required their insurance will cover the claim that the buyer would make.

When it comes to redeeming mortgages after the sale of a property, DIY conveyancers have two options…

  • Ask the purchaser’s conveyancer to redeem the mortgage directly. The danger with this option is the purchaser’s legal team is entitled to refuse this request.
  • Alternatively, it is possible to instruct a conveyancer to just deal with the redemption.

In either case, a fee will be charged and the eventual saving may not be worth the hassle and the risk.

While DIY conveyancing is highly unlikely to save vendors or purchasers a significant amount of money if any of the properties involved in the transaction has a mortgage attached to it, there is better news for buyers and sellers in Wimbledon.

The rise in property values over the past decade will more than cover any seller’s conveyancing costs, while the recent reduction in the Bank of England’s base rate means buyers taking out a new home loan on a flat or house in Wimbledon Village, Coombe Hill, Kingston Hill or Mayfair – where Robert Holmes & Co has recently opened a new office in Davies Street – are likely to save more than their legal fees.

To discover how much your home in and around Wimbledon Village or Mayfair could be worth or for help finding your prefect property, contact Robert Holmes & Co today.

About the author

Nicolas Holmes

Nick joined Robert Holmes to inject fresh ideas and help grow the New Homes department of Robert Holmes as well as helping to inject technology into the business and to grow its client base. Together with one of the Directors Nick is in charge of all Development opportunities that Robert Holmes deals with along with sales. Aged 40, he provides succession together with the two existing directors. Nick has always been focused on building client relationships and sales. He built up his own gallery in Chelsea, where he had a loyal following of customers and artists.

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