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Do I Need a Solicitor to Sell my House?

With the cost of hiring a solicitor to help with the selling of your house ranging anywhere from £500 to £2,000, many will be wondering if they can undertake this task without the help of a trained legal professional.

In what follows, we’ll answer the question “do I need a solicitor to sell my house?”.

Can I a Sell my House Without a Solicitor?

While it is quite uncommon for a person to deal with the sale of his house from start to finish without the help of a solicitor, it is certainly not illegal for them to do so. The only situation in which one wouldn’t be permitted to do this is when the house is mortgaged – lenders will always push for a solicitor to be appointed to deal with the repayment process (also known as the redemption of the mortgage).

What options do you have if you want to sell your house without a solicitor?

Employ a licensed conveyancer instead of a solicitor

Those living in England and Wales can choose to have a licensed conveyancer deal with the sale of their house. While solicitors and licensed conveyancers are both regulated legal professionals who are well equipped to deal with the legal work required in the selling and buying of a home, there are a few differences between the two. It’s important for you to familiarise yourself with these when deciding which legal professional you’ll go for.

  • The two professions are governed by different regulatory bodies. The Law Society for solicitors and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) for conveyancers.
  • While solicitors are required by law to disclose any referral fees they receive from estate agents or other bodies, conveyancers have no such legal obligation.
  • Licensed conveyancers are not limited in their ability to act on both sides of the transaction as solicitors are.
  • There is also a price difference between solicitors and licensed conveyancers. However, this differential is only slight; you won’t save that much money opting for a conveyancer over a solicitor. As with anything, it’s important you do your research and find the best deal. For those who are particularly tight on cash, this is a great option.

If you’d like to familiarise yourself with the conveyancing process, check out our other post which answers the question ‘how long does conveyancing take?’.

Photo credit: thodonal88/Shutterstock

Do it all yourself

“Do I need a solicitor to sell my house?” – the answer is no, but unless you’re strapped for cash or have a lot of time on your hands, we’d recommend going with one anyway. In order to understand why we’re putting this recommendation out, it’s best to go through what you would need to do to completely DIY your house sale.

The core tasks a conveyancer or solicitor would perform for you during a house sale are:

  • Obtaining title deeds and fill in the necessary questionnaires.
  • If applicable, agree upon a figure for your mortgage settlement and pay off the remainder of the mortgage.
  • Write up a contract for sale and distribute it to the parties concerned.
  • Agree upon a moving date with the buyer or those acting on their behalf.
  • Receive the house deposit.
  • Prepare a final statement.
  • Approve the deed of transfer.
  • Hand the property deeds over to the buyer and send any outstanding balance to you.

We have previously compiled a list of the documents you need to sell a house in the UK, which can be of help if you decide to deal with your house sale on your own.

One of the problems you might run into straight away if you’re selling a leasehold property or a property that is under a mortgage is that the owner of the freehold or the mortgager might not allow you to undertake these tasks by yourself. Most parties in such a situation would want a qualified legal professional to deal with the sale of the property.

Photo credit: Roman Sambroskyi/Shutterstock

In fact, the legal complexities which are associated with the sale of a leasehold property are such that you will most certainly get bogged down in the process if you have no legal expertise.

When it comes to mortgaged properties, most banks will insist that you use a solicitor, and many will compel you to use one on their recognised solicitor list.

If you’re neither selling a leasehold nor a home which is under a mortgage, you will be faced with a further issue: the fact that you, as opposed to a legal professional, will not be insured against mistakes made during the process. If you make mistakes along the way, you could potentially face an expensive lawsuit.

Is it worth selling your house without a solicitor?

All in all, while it’s possible to sell your house without the help of a legal professional in some situations, you will be putting yourself at risk of being sued if you make mistakes during the process. The legal fees you will then have to pay will certainly be higher than what you would have paid a solicitor to deal with your house sale. For this simple reason, it’s better to hire a solicitor to deal with all of the legal bits.

If you’re in a hurry and want to sell your house fast, check out our blog post detailing tips to prepare your house for a quick sale. Furthermore, if, for whatever reason, you find yourself in a situation where your house sale falls through, our post on ‘what to do when a buyer pulls out of a house sale?’ will definitely be of much help.

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