Do you need a solicitor to sell your house?

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You may be wondering whether you need to hire a solicitor to sell your home or if you can do it yourself. The good news is that you don’t actually need a solicitor and can do your own conveyancing.

But the bad news is this is not always the case all of the time and there are certain scenarios where a solicitor is mandatory under the eyes of the law.

If I have received an offer for a house what should I do now?

The first thing you should do after you have received an offer to sell a house is make sure the buyer has taken the property off the market.

It could take a long time to sell a house and before the conveyancing process is over and you don’t want to get gazumped where the seller can still accept an offer from another buyer offering a higher amount, known as gazumping.

A buyer then should instruct a solicitor to handle the paperwork for a house if they are selling a house without an estate agent. Otherwise, it will be done by the buyer.

To save yourself the stress of having to find a solicitor at the last minute, it is also possible to find one in advance (before you started making offers on a property) 

From here, the final stages are completed after the solicitor has done their job including finalising what kind of mortgage is going to be used to purchase the property and arranging a survey.

a solicitor dealing with the offer on a property

What is DIY conveyancing?

DIY conveyancing is doing the work of a conveyancer yourself in the sale of a home and it is in fact possible. You don’t have to be a qualified lawyer or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.

However, before you get too excited about the prospect of saving some money, there are a few things you should know. 

Firstly, if you’re selling a property with a mortgage, many lenders will require you to have a solicitor or conveyancer from their approved panel involved in the process so it is not always the case you can do DIY conveyancing.

Also, if the property you’re dealing with is a leasehold, things might get a bit more complicated. You’ll need to check the lease details in addition to everything else involved in conveyancing. 

As well as this, if you’re involved in a linked transaction, such as a purchase that’s being funded by a sale, DIY conveyancing can be even more complex.

So, while it’s technically possible to do DIY conveyancing, it’s not always a good idea. Keep these factors in mind and make an informed decision that works best for your situation.

Is it best to hire a conveyancer or a solicitor?

There are various types of legal professionals who can assist you with property sales and purchases. A solicitor being one of them, they have extensive legal training and can provide a variety of legal services.

Solicitors in the United Kingdom must be members of The Law Society in order to practise law. A conveyancer, on the other hand, is a specialist who focuses on the legal aspects of property transactions. Conveyancers are frequently less expensive than solicitors, which is why many large law firms hire them to provide property services as they are deemed more affordable to the general public.

What is the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer?

When it comes to buying or selling a home, you can use either a dedicated conveyancer or a solicitor. While it is ultimately up to you, it is worth noting that the majority of people in the UK prefer conveyancers.

This is simply down to the price of a conveyancer in comparison. If solicitors and conveyancers charged the same amount, most people would opt for hiring a solicitor instead.

Another factor in your decision making could come down to choosing a legal service provider with whom you have a relationship and are comfortable working with too.

If a solicitor is particularly personable, professional and trustworthy you could opt to choose them over a conveyancer despite their higher price..

The tasks of a solicitor explained

When you’re in the process of purchasing a home, your legal representative will be there to help you navigate the complexities of the legal procedures. 

They’ll be the person you ask with all your questions and they’ll be able to supply you with the right advice. Amongst the other takes a solicitor is involved in is deciphering the legal paperwork that is often very difficult to understand throughout the buying process. Often it takes a trained professional to understand the spot of the law in its entirety.

Your legal service provider will also handle a variety of tasks for you, such as advising you on contract details, deeds, searches, and timelines. 

They will be in charge of drafting and reviewing contracts and other legal documents, as well as negotiating with the other party’s solicitor over any points of contention involved in the deal.

a checklist of the tasks a solicitor needs to do

Property searches

When purchasing a home, it is critical to learn as much as possible about it, which is where property searches come in. These searches are performed to provide you with more detailed information about the property that a viewing or building survey alone may not provide.

You may think that this is the work of a surveyor and in part this is true. But a solicitor is able to look at additional details like whether your new neighbours have requested any planning permissions, council planning enforcement, and information about mains water and drainage systems. 

Furthermore, searches will reveal environmental factors that may affect your homeownership, such as whether the property is prone to flooding.

Handling contracts

When purchasing a home, it is critical that your legal representative review the contract from the seller’s solicitor to ensure that everything is in order. 

They’ll look over the contract to see when the deposit will be transferred and when the contract exchange and purchase completion dates will be. 

They’ll also check to see if the contract includes all of the agreed upon fittings and fixtures and go over any over the legal issues like if there is shared ownership on the house.

Completing the sale of a property

Choosing the right legal representative to help you buy a house can be difficult but it is worth it because on the completion day of the sale of a property things can get hectic, even if you think everything has gone smoothly.

Once you’ve decided on a legal representative, they’ll be there to assist you on completion day, when all of the money is transferred and you get the keys to your new home. 

However, things can go wrong on completion day, such as delays in money transfers or deals falling through if you or the other party is in a chain of buyers.

Your representative will be able to go over this with you and prepare you for any potential issues.

What does a solicitor charge on average?

On average you can expect solicitor fees to be in the region of £1,000. A solicitor will either charge you by the hour, a fixed fee or or from a commission on the property.

You can also get a solicitor who will only charge if there is sale of the property but this must be agreed upon beforehand so you don’t end up with any misunderstanding.

Solicitor fees are generally fairly expensive because solicitors have to be qualified to quite a large degree in order to approve all of the right documents for the sale of a house.  

However, you can always do conveyancing yourself to save costs of selling a house which is known as DIY conveyancing. Especially when there are other expenses like tax you need to pay when selling a house too.

Is it necessary to have a solicitor to transfer a property?

Rather than selling a property, a property transfer is where someone is added or removed from the ownership of the house that is in question.

This is a legal process that does need the help of a conveyancing solicitor in order to happen as there is some complicated paperwork that has to be completed.

A conveyancing solicitor will typically oversee the title documents that are given from the land registry and will also have to draft a series of legal paperwork for the transfer of a home.

You will most likely also need a conveyancing solicitor to complete the transactions of a property if there is a mortgage deed involved or there needs to be a transfer of funds to different people.

Also, solicitors may spot small things you can do too like giving you advise on what not to fix when selling a house as they should have a better knowledge of property than you.

Unlike using a solicitor for the sale of a property, using a conveyancer for the transfer of a property instead is usually far less expensive so if you need to save money for example to sell a house to pay for care, this could be the right decision to make.

transfering of a property that needs a solicitor

In conclusion

To conclude, this article aims to answer if you need a solicitor to sell your house by covering various aspects of property sales and transfers, including whether or not to hire a solicitor or conveyancer.

After you understand the tasks that a solicitor undertakes in greater detail you should be able to assess whether hiring one is the right decision.

Alternatively, you could do the work of a solicitor yourself which is known as DIY conveyancing, giving the responsibility of having a solicitor to yourself.

So, it is possible to do your own conveyancing, but it may not be the best idea depending on your situation, and if you’re dealing with a leasehold, linked transaction or doing a property transfer.

Overall, it’s important to make an informed decision that works best for your situation but bear in mind there are serious legal ramifications if you get any of the work of a solicitor wrong so in most cases it is worth paying the fee.

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Donnell Bailey

Property expert

Donnell is a property expert focusing on the property market, he looks at a combination of legislation, information from property managers, letting agents and market trends to produce information to help landlords.


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