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Conveyancing - FAQ, Frequently Answered Questions

The Questions:

  1. Must I use a lawyer?
  2. Why does it take so long?
  3. We haven't exchanged Contracts - what happens if I back out?

The Answers

These are my answers. I do not guarantee them against challenge, and welcome suggestions either for better answers, or new questions. As always on these pages, this is a work in progress, not a finished, and polished thesis.

  1. Must I use a lawyer?

    In general, No. You can choose to do much of the work yourself, but understand that at the same time, much of the work you pay for will be done on behalf of others. If they are institutions, they will universally instruct lawyers, and you will pay the cost. In practice the cost of that will make it uneconomic not to instruct your own solicitor, who will do that work, and the work for you for only a few pounds more.

    What you cannot do is to pay a non-lawyer to draft either the contract or transfer. The law says that anyone seeking money for this must be qualified, regulated, and insured.

  2. Why does it take so long?

    A conveyance is rarely a private matter between two clients. Instead, there will usually be a chain of transactions, and each member of the chain must be ready before any part of that chain can make progress.

  3. We haven't exchanged Contracts - what happens if I back out?

    Until you exchange contracts, you each are free to back out without any penalty due to the other. The purchaser will have to write off any conveyancing legal costs, and the costs of any survey and so on. The seller will also have legal costs, and may have others as well, including the costs of delay.

    Why should this be allowed? Put simply the system was designed so that expense should be kept to a minimum until exchange of contracts. The purchaser, in particular, needs the information before committing to the decision to purchase. Both parties need to remember this. It is quite true that when one party backs out, this causes considerable expense and frustration to the other, but, as a conveyancer, I can only say that this affects both sellers and buyers alike.

Important: Please note that our law-bytes are retained for archival purposes only. The law changes, and these notes are often, now, out of date. You must take direct advice on your own personal situation and the law as it currently stands.
All information on this site is in general and summary form only. The content of any page on this site may be out of date and or incomplete, and you should not not rely directly upon it. Take direct professional legal advice which reflects your own particular situation.
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Copyright and Database Rights: David Swarbrick 2012
18 October 2013 109 18 October 2013