Selling your home: when and why do you need a solicitor?

Selling your home: when and why do you need a solicitor?

Last updated: 27/09/2022 | Reading time: 4 minutes

When buying or selling a property, you’re likely to enlist the services of a solicitor. 

If you’re a buyer, you can see our guide to using a solicitor when buying a property

But if it’s time to sell up and move on, when and why should you seek legal help? Here’s what you need to know. 

Why do I need a solicitor when selling my home?

Once the viewings are done and you have a buyer for your home, next comes the transfer of legal ownership of the property, otherwise known as conveyancing. 

This is a complicated process, and it’s at this point that you’ll need someone to act in your best interests and guide you through this process.

While you could, in theory, deal with the conveyancing yourself when selling a property, it involves a lot of work and expertise. It may seem like a money-saver on the face of it, but there’s a good chance you’ll get to a point where you wished you’d just hired someone with experience.

Using a solicitor could reduce the chance of delays in making the sale, as they’ll know which documents you need to provide, and have experience of the procedure.

How much does conveyancing cost when selling a house?

According to home-moving experts Compare My Move, the average conveyancing fee for selling a house in 2022 is £1,690. So, it doesn’t come cheap – you can read more about the full cost of selling a house in our separate guide.

When should I get a solicitor involved?

When you decide to sell your house, it’s a good idea to get a solicitor onboard sooner rather than later. Depending on the state of the market, things can move surprisingly quickly when you put a house up for sale.

Ideally, you should have a solicitor lined up to instruct as soon as you appoint an estate agent. 

When selling a house, what does a solicitor do?

As you’ll know from buying your house in the first place, property transactions involve a lot of time and detail.

You’ll understand from your own experience that buyers need a lot of information about the property before handing over their money.

Your solicitor’s main role is to provide any information required, and also support you in obtaining further information if needs be.

There’s plenty more involved too. Your solicitor’s other tasks will include:

Drafting contracts

They will then send this to the buyer’s solicitor

Supplying further documents

This includes the title deeds and a fixtures and contents form, which lets buyers know what the property comes with. For example, this would cover any white goods which you may be leaving in the property.

Negotiating and responding to enquiries

Your solicitor will act as a go-between with you and the buyer’s representative. They will negotiate moving dates, for instance. They will also deal with any attempts to change the offer at the last minute.

In the early days of negotiation, the buyer’s solicitor may have further questions regarding the property, and it’s your solicitor’s role to answer them. Where further evidence is required, your solicitor may need to conduct their own investigations, and provide information that satisfies them.

Exchange contracts

Once the buyer is satisfied and happy to go ahead, they’ll instruct their solicitor to exchange contracts. In turn they’ll speak to your solicitor, contracts will be exchanged, and the buyer will be legally bound to buy your property.

This is a big step, and – while the buyer can still pull out of the purchase – it’s likely to be costly for them to do so.

Deal with financial transactions

Your solicitor will handle the payment for the property, including receipt of the deposit. On the day of completion, they’ll receive the money for the sale. They will also deal with paying the estate agent, and – after taking their fee – they’ll forward the proceeds on to you.

Liaise with your mortgage lender

For example, they’ll arrange paying the outstanding balance off your current mortgage (otherwise known as mortgage redemption) once the proceeds of the sale have come through.

Should I use the same solicitor if I’m also buying a house?

If you’re selling a property and buying another in its place, it makes good sense to hire the same solicitor for both. This means the conveyancing process should be fairly seamless, and you’ll have fewer people to deal with.

Click on the buttons below to read more content about selling your home:

How much does it cost to sell a house?
Selling my house: what do I need to know?
What happens on completion day of a house sale?

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