When you are selling a house, you know that the process is full of ups and downs. In fact, it can seem like a rollercoaster, complete with dropping stomachs and pounding hearts! A solicitor can help smooth out some of the bumps, so to speak, streamlining proceedings. But how much do they charge for the privilege?
What are average solicitor fees for selling a house – and is there any way to minimise this expense?
What Does a Solicitor Do for Sellers?
Exactly what duties a solicitor performs when it comes to a property sale depends on whether they represent the buyer or the seller. For the seller, this legal professional works to share vital information that you supply with the buyer’s solicitor.
When someone purchases a property in the UK, they do so under the principle of caveat emptor. Simply put: buyer beware. As such, they cannot recover damages for defects on the house and/or property that cause it to be unfit. The exception to this rule is if you, as the seller, conceal defects or make material misrepresentations.
So, as the seller, you must present as much information as possible about your property. Failing to do so can put you at legal risk but also extend the sales process exponentially. No one wants that! Among the information you should provide:
- TA6 Property Information Form
- TA10 Fixture of Fittings Form
- TA7 Leasehold Information Form (if you are selling a leasehold)
- Planning permissions and Building Control for extensions or underpinning (i.e. strengthening the foundation)
- Gas Safety Certificate
- Boiler Maintenance and/or Installation Certificate
- FENSA Certificates
- Asbestos Removal Certificates
Your solicitor will provide this information and these documents to the buyer’s solicitor. They will also assist you in securing any other information that is required. Additionally, your solicitor:
- Drafts Contracts.
- Responds to Enquiries from Buyer’s Solicitor
- Investigates Issues (e.g. searches, titles, other enquiries)
- Exchanges Contracts
- Sets Day of Completion (receives funds from the sale, discharges the mortgage, pays the estate agent, deducts their fee and sends proceeds to you)
- Settles Your Liabilities for Ground Rent and Service Charges (when leasehold)
- Receives DS1 Discharge Documents
- Provides Counsel Throughout the Process
Solicitor Fees for Selling a House
The average cost for a seller solicitor is £1050. You will find some that charge much cheaper rates; do not always go with the least expensive option. This can indicate anything from lack of experience on their part to lack of effort.
There are also some fees (called disbursement fees) that the solicitor incurs on your behalf. These include:
- Title Deeds (£25)
- Property Fraud Fee (£10)
- Transferring of Ownership (£200 – £500)
- Money Laundering Checks (£8/person on buying documents)
- CHAPS fee (£20 – £30)
These typically are paid for upfront. Make sure you ask your solicitor how and when you will pay.
Can I Use a Conveyancer Instead?
Yes, you can. Conveyancers are professionals who specialise in property transfers and the minutiae that accompanies them. They are not legal professionals, however. The benefit of opting for a conveyancer is that they are typically less expensive. A potential drawback is that, if your situation becomes complex and there are disputes, a conveyancer is not qualified to handle them.
Can I Just Do It Myself?
Again, yes, you can. There is no legal requirement that you use a solicitor to sell your property. However, be aware (very very aware!) that you will need to undertake all of this work on your own. If you do not have extensive experience in preparing contracts, making legal enquiries, etc., this can be daunting. There is also the risk that you will make an unintentional blunder that could turn into a big, messy, expensive problem down the road.
Is There Another Option?
You want the expertise and encompassing services of a solicitor – but you’d rather not pay for it. Understandable! There is a way to circumnavigate this issue without having to either hire a conveyancer or do it yourself. When you work with a reputable cash house buyer, they include the cost and services of an experienced solicitor as part of the experience. You can choose to use the company’s solicitor or your own. If you should use your own, some companies provide a sum (e.g. £500) to use towards this expense. If you choose to work with a solicitor that they instruct, it costs you nothing.
A solicitor provides invaluable assistance and service as you sell your house. They may be well worth their fees.