Do I Need a Solicitor to Sell My House?

As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, sellers are proving to be even more keen than usual to find ways of saving money when selling their house. The question “Do I need a solicitor to sell my house?” Is one that is being asked a lot more frequently as prospective sellers are looking at ways to cut the costs associated with when they sell their house.

Whilst you don’t technically or legally need a solicitor to sell your house Gaffsy would advise against not using one.  The amount of legal documentation that you would have to prepare, submit and deal with as well as all the legal terminology and jargon you would have to decipher is no easy task. When it comes to selling your house we would recommend you do it with legal representation.  The actual process of selling your house is complex and there are loads of legal considerations you need to be on top of a solicitor has all the necessary skills and understanding to ensure everything goes according to plan.  You also need to consider that your lender may actually insist upon the use of a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to sell house similarly if your property is leasehold some freeholders may also require you to use a solicitor or licenced conveyancer.

Please do note if you were to choose to sell your house now to Gaffsy they will provide you with a free house valuation online and cover the cost of your legal fees up to £1,000 and can even recommend a solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

What is the difference between a solicitor and conveyancer?

A solicitor is a qualified lawyer with training in all branches of the law and can offer a full range of legal services. They can only act for one party in a property transaction

A licenced conveyancer is a specialist in the legal aspects of selling and buying a property but cannot deal with complex legal issues and is therefore on the whole cheaper than a solicitor. They are also able to act on behalf of both the buyer and seller in a property transaction.

Solicitors and conveyancers follow the same conveyancing process and procedures when acting for house sellers and buyers and are both fully regulated and insured.

Licenced conveyancers and solicitors routinely pay referral fees to estate agents for introductions to new clients. Whilst there is nothing untoward with this practice note solicitors have to disclose the referral fee to their client whereas licensed conveyancers do not.

If you are selling your house through Gaffsy they can introduce and pay the solicitor fees for selling a house thereby reducing your costs and helping you with the selling processes.

Solicitors’ fees for moving house

To answer the question on solicitor fees let’s clarify conveyancing as it is a term that is used a lot when discussing selling houses. It is basically the legal process of transferring property ownership and encompasses all the legal work needed before the purchase and sale of the property. The conveyancing fees are what get paid to a legal professional to manage the purchase or sale of the property.

According to the Halifax building society conveyancing fees can cost on average anywhere between £850 - £1,500 depending on the value and location of the property for a standard sale. Note on top of this you will have the costs of disbursements - which are the unavoidable extra costs from third parties undertaken by the solicitor but paid for by the buyer/seller such as Searches, Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty.  

There's a chance you'll have to pay a small fee in advance if you're selling your home. The remainder will be paid throughout the conveyancing process and on the day of completion. If you're buying a house, you'll have to pay for the conveyancing searches upfront because the relevant body will want payment before releasing the results.

You can be charged in one of two ways

  • Fixed fee – it is important to make sure you understand what the fixed price includes and if it includes disbursements in addition to the basic conveyancing fee. Do not agree to an hourly fee estimate as it is risky as solicitors’ fees can range from £150 to £350 per hour.
  • Percentage of the property price – the bigger the house the greater the fees similarly the smaller the house the less expensive the fees will be.

Tips to ask solicitor when selling your house:

  1. Get quotes from more than one legal representative before you choose which one to use
  2. Ask if the solicitor you are considering provides a no-fee conveyancing service which means if the sale falls through you will not be charged legal expenses. You will still probably need to pay for disbursements that your conveyancer has already paid.
  3. Ensure the solicitor is on your mortgage lenders approval panel.
  4. Request a quote in writing, ask for a quote which lists and includes the foreseeable disbursements that your solicitor pays on your behalf.
  5. If the quote looks too cheap it will probably have hidden charges embedded in the small print therefore make sure you read the small print for hidden or additional charges before you agree to use a solicitor’s services.

What solicitors’ costs do you pay when selling a house?

Generally, there are two categories the legal fees and the disbursements see below breakdown for selling a freehold property:

  • Conveyancers basic fee – your solicitors time and expertise during the sale.
  • ID check - money laundering regulations require identity verification.
  • Bank TT fees – Telegraphic transfer fees are charged by a bank or building society to send sums larger than £60,000. Similarly, if you have a mortgage to redeem than another TT fee will have to be paid.
  • Office copies and Title plan -official copies of the freehold Title Register and filed Title Plan held at HM Land Registry which prove the seller owns the property and will also show any legal charge or notices registered against the title.
  • Transferring ownership- transferring your name with your buyer’s name on completion.
  • Buyer Enquiries - a background check on the potential buyer 
  • Property Information Form- also known as a TA6 form, and a TA7 form if you are selling a leasehold property.
  • Drafting the contract of Sale.
  • Contract signing.
  • Exchange of contracts.
  • Receive Deposit.

Selling a house? A sample of a straight forward sales conveyancing quote  
ITEMISED COSTS TO EXPECT:TYPICAL COST excluding VAT :
Conveyancer's basic legal fee£300-£1,500 
ID check - anti money laundering£6-£20 
Bank TT fees£20-£50 
Office copies & Title Plan£6-£24 
Transferring of ownership£200-£500
** make sure you add the vat and check if your property requires any of the additional conveyancing fees

 

What solicitors’ costs do you pay when buying a house?

Generally, there are two categories the legal fees and the disbursements see below breakdown for buying a freehold property:

  • Conveyancers basic fee – your solicitors time and expertise during the sale.
  • ID check - money laundering regulations require identity verification.
  • Property & Bankruptcy Fraud Check – to make sure the seller owns the property being sold.
  • Searches – as a minimum they should contain local authority search, drainage & water search and an environmental search.
  • Bank TT fees – Telegraphic transfer fees are charged by a bank or building society to send sums larger than £60,000. Similarly, if you have a mortgage to redeem than another TT fee will have to be paid.
  • Land Registry fees – This is a payment to HM Land Registry for updating the records they hold about the property you are buying and to register you as the new owner. The price of the property you are buying determines the fee you pay as there is a set fee scale.
  • Stamp duty land tax - This is a transfer tax paid to the government by the buyer of a home and the return filing fee.

Buying a house?

A sample of a straight forward purchasing conveyancing quote 

ITEMISED COSTS TO EXPECT:TYPICAL COST excluding VAT :
Conveyancer's basic legal fee£400-£2,000 
Searches£200-£500 
Bank TT fees£20-£50
ID check£6-£25
Bankruptcy & pre-completion searches£2-£30 
Land Registry feesFixed scale
Stamp Duty Land TaxFixed scale
SDLT return fee£50-£100 
Property fraud fee£10 -£40
** make sure you add the vat and check if your property requires any of the additional conveyancing fees

When might there be extra solicitor fees?

If the sale is more complex there maybe additional costs to be aware of and it is therefore important to be aware of these too.

  • Leasehold properties may incur extra fees for management agents pack, leasehold management information pack and a leasehold supplement fee for the extra work .
  • Delayed completion – if your completion is delayed there may be an extra charge as the solicitor will need to return to the case to finish it off.
  • Guarantor Involvement – a buyer’s solicitor may charge more if the buyer is a using a guarantor mortgage as it may require a solicitor providing additional pieces of information to the lender.
  • Indemnity Insurance – if you don’t have time to wait for searches and you need to protect against any unforeseen then a policy will involve extra work and cost.
  • Unregistered property – if a property has not been registered at HM Land Registry your solicitor will have to prove or establish ownership. If it as be inherited and is a probate property if will likely involve further work. These will likely increase the fees owed.
  • Defective title – if your solicitor finds something missing from the title and it needs to be corrected before the sale this will incur additional charges.
  • Power of Attorney – if the buyer or seller is using someone else to represent them then there will extra charges to process the extra paperwork.
  • Statutory declarations – for any new legal obligations surrounding the property that are not in the deeds then a solicitor will need to draft an additional legally binding document this will obviously involve extra work and further fees.
  •  Trusts and Transferring Equity – if funds need to be paid somewhere other than into a bank it may involve additional legal and tax related processes. Similarly, if a solicitor has to liaise with specialists to make sure everything is legally compliant this will involve an additional fee.
  • Help to buy schemes, ISA– due to extra checks and processes your solicitor may make a supplementary charge
  • Gifted deposit- if you are buying a property with a gifted deposit extra money laundering checks will have to be carried out and this will incur a cost.
  • Declaration of solvency – in order to sell a property under market value a document that confirms the seller was not insolvent is required and a buyer will need to take out separate indemnity insurance.
  • Right to Buy – if you are buying your property from the council this will involve specifically related processes which will increase the fees.
  • Retentions – if paperwork is required to protect completions funds that have been held back then this work will be an additional fee.
  • Restrictions – if there is need to use RX1 and or RX4 form due to restrictions on the property then the solicitor may charge an extra fee.
  • Licence Agreements – should the seller want to remain in the property after completion a licence agreement protects the buyer until this end point.
  • Shared Ownership – as there may extra work involved with dealing with multiple owners’ solicitors will likely charge more.
  • New Build Property – in order to carry out more in-depth analysis of the land surrounding the property, the warranties, service charge obligations, ground rents as well as the finished product they may want to charge more.
  • Properties with Sitting Tenants require additional checks to be carried out as the buyer’s solicitor will want to verify documentation.
  • Enforcement notices, Underpinning, Structural matters – will require extra investigative work and result in further costs.
  • Fast Sale – if you need your solicitor to prioritise your case and expedite it then they may charge more. Please note if you are selling your property to Gaffsy we can assist with these expedited fees.
  • Bankruptcy & Repossession – if notices need to be removed from the title deeds and/or if a solicitor is required to attend court to stop a repossession, then additional costs are likely to be applied.

 

What are the typical costs for these additional fees?

ADDITIONAL CONVEYANCING FEESTYPICAL COST excluding vat
Proving source of funds£100.00
Help to buy ISA£50.00
Title deeds (greater for leasehold)£6-£12
Help to buy scheme£300.00
Mortgaged supplement£50 - £150
Leashold property supplement£100-£200
Unregistered property supplement£100-£200
Managing agents pack£150-£300
Leasehold Management Information Pack£150-£500
Indemnity Policies£20-£300
Corresponding and collecting in funds from third parties £80-£150
Deed of Covenant£125-£200
3week exchange of contract£100-£200
3week completion deadline from exchange of contract£100-£200
5 working day completion from exchange of contract£100-£200
Defective titles£50-£100
If a guarantor is involved£150-£300
Contaminated Land£95-£150
Purchasing leasehold title and share of freehold title£95-£150
Certificate of compliance£95-£150
Solar panel documentation£100-£150
Private drainage£75-£150
Building Regulation Enforcement Notice£50-£100
Underpinning & structural matters£100-£200
Standard Statutory Declaration£75-£150
On purchase check Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement £75-£150
Retentions£50-£100 
HMLR ID1 forms£50-£100
Restrictions on Register with HMLR£75-£300
 Entry of Bankruptcy certificate on title£50-£100
HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation)£75-£150 
Moving a mortgage£95-£150

Gaffsy’s thoughts

It is clear from the above conveyancing is no easy task and not something that anyone without legal knowledge should undertake. If you are selling your house and want to avoid legal fees contact Gaffsy, a professional cash house buyer who guarantees to buy any home, no matter the condition or the circumstances there are absolutely no fees involved in selling us your property and on top of that we cover your legal cost. If you have not found information on how to sell the type of property you own do not worry. Every customer different and we know that. We can still help you!

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