Solicitor Fees For Selling a House – What To Expect

Written by Mathew McCorry

If you read my property blog now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you read it.

You’ve probably landed here because you’re thinking about selling your house, trying to do all the research and get a good idea of the cost...


When you’ve made the decision to sell your home, and a willing buyer comes along, one of the first things you will do and costs you will encounter is instructing a solicitor (or conveyancer) to deal with the legal side of the sale.

It’s one of the major costs to consider, if you sell on the open market.

Note: If you sell to ourselves, we’ll cover the costs, of everything!

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Do you need a solicitor when selling a house?

No, believe it or not you don’t actually need a solicitor to sell your home. You can actually do DIY conveyancing, taking the legal responsibilities on yourself, but the list of tasks is quite exhaustive and without any experience we really don’t recommend it – there might also be times when it is insisted that you use a legal aid, either by the owner of the freehold on a leasehold property or by the mortgage provider.

So to get back on track, the answer is pretty much yes, you need a solicitor or conveyancer to deal with the sale. What’s the difference? A solicitor is usually more expensive than conveyancers as they are qualified lawyers, conveyancers specialise just in property but can’t deal with complex legal issues should they arise.

Essentially if you’re sale is straight forward, and you want to save some money on the sale, you can go with a conveyancer.

What do the solicitors actually do when your selling your home?

Dealing with solicitors is often quite frustrating, as most of what they do is done in the background, and you don’t tend to see the amount of work that actually goes into selling your property. The main role of the solicitor or conveyancer is to provide the information about the property to the buyers solicitor, sounds simple right?

It might sound it, but there is quite a bit involved in the process, here’s a breakdown:

  • Drafting the contracts – they will be responsible for sending the initial legal contract to be sent to the buyers solicitors.
  • Another significant part is to response to enquiries, once the contract, legal title and documents have been sent to the buyer they’ll usually have a few queries that the solicitor responses too.
  • Investigating any potential problems or issues that arise, there can be limited information sometimes in regards to property, so they have to further investigate and try and satisfy them.
  • Once the buyer solicitors is satisfied with everything it’s time to exchange contracts, which is all done by the solicitor.
  • Dealing with the money on the day of completion, paying the estate agent, discharging the mortgage if required and sending any required money back to you.
  • Following the completion the sellers solicitor gets the DS1 discharge documentation.


How much do solicitors fees cost when selling a house?

Solicitors tend to be more expensive than conveyancers, so when you’re using online comparison tools they’ll mostly point you towards conveyancing firms.

There are a few different factors that affect how much you will pay on your solicitor fees including factors like:

  • Your area
  • Sale price
  • Legal fees
  • Disbursements, land registry & other fees


You also have to consider on top of this you likely will have to pay stamp duty, but we’ll touch on that later in the article.

Generally fees for conveyancing when selling can range from £525 at the bottom end, to £910 at the top end.


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What happens if the sale falls through, do they still charge?

There’s a lot going on when you are selling your property, and sometimes there’s a bit of confusion and blurred lines on who you’re paying to do what.

Unlike an estate agent, if a house sale falls through then you aren’t likely to get your money back from a solicitor if they have started carrying out the work. They will likely charge you for the work that has been completed so far, regardless of whether you actually complete your sale or not.

That being said, as they haven’t actually completed the completion and perhaps some of the other aspects of the work, you likely won’t have to pay the full amount – they may charge you a percentage of what was originally quoted.

You can’t really get out of this either, as you would likely have signed a legally binding contract at the time of instructing your solicitor which covers this within the terms. The amount returned will often be estimated based on the work they say that they have completed.

Why are solicitors fees cheaper when selling a house compared to buying one?

If you’re researching both buying and selling your home, then you might have noticed that typically buying a property is more expensive when it comes to solicitors, but why? It’s because generally there’s a bit more too it, and there are a lot of third party charges to consider which soon racks the cost up. Here’s just an idea of some of the searches that happen on the buying side, which don’t on the selling, and the costs involved:

  • Bankruptcy search - £4-8
  • Local authority searches - £100-200
  • ID Verification - £2-18
  • Environmental search - £35
  • Land Registry Charge - £20


What to look out for when comparing solicitors

When it’s time to choose a solicitor, there’s quite a bit to think about, so what should you be looking at? We’ve broken down some of the main aspects to consider when comparing solicitors and detailed them below:

The estate agents recommendation

If you are using an estate agent to sell your property, it’s pretty much a guarantee they will recommend a solicitor. We advise you at this point to compare your own, and have an idea of what you can get before jumping in with the one they recommend. They are purely recommending the solicitor on the basis that they get a monetary incentive for doing so.

Time to completion

One of the major things you should look at, or try to research, is how long you can expect the time to completion to be for your selected solicitor. If a solicitor firm has a high work load, it is going to take them a while to get your sale sorted. You want to choose the solicitors that have a smaller work load and can give you more attention, it’ll save future frustration!

Distance

This is based on you’re personal preference really, but having a solicitor that is close to you, means you can physically go to their office to sign and hand in documentation, as well as trying to get things sped up. Dealing with solicitors through the sale can be painful sometimes as deadlines get stretched and often slip, so if you choose one close by, you can regularly visit to try and speed the process up.

Reviews

It goes without saying, but you should make sure that you read the reviews of the solicitors. The nature in which solicitors work, you’ll always find reviews that aren’t happy with the service, but it’s trying to wade through them and actually determine peoples experience in dealing with them. Be sure to look at reviews that revolve around the sale and purchase of property, as a lot of the firms might deal with several different legal situations.

Price

Lastly, of course you have to consider price. It’s a balancing act! The cheapest solicitor is probably going to be busy, and therefore may not score high on all the above aspects. It may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, but you also have to consider if the sale slips a few weeks, how much might that cost you? We would recommend somewhere in between price wise, meeting the above criteria is more important than spending a little bit extra, choosing the right solicitor can literally save you weeks, if not months!


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Tips to choosing the right solicitors

We’ve touched on what to look for when comparing different solicitors, but there are a few more tips and tricks you can follow to increase your chance of getting a good one! Although, there’s never any guarantee.

  1. Recommendations from family & friends should go a long way
  2. Finding a good solicitor that will be quick is hard, so when someone you trust recommends one to you, look into it. Keep in mind however that case loads are forever changing, so you might not get the same experience as they did.

  3. Bigger doesn’t mean better
  4. Sometimes you might recognise a legal firms name, but that doesn’t always mean there better. Sometimes the best solicitors are the small firm around the corner, simply again because they are working on less clients, and don’t have the over heads of the larger company.

  5. Location helps, but it isn’t everything
  6. We did touch on the fact if the solicitor is close by you can go into their offices to sign documentation, but it’s not the be all and end all, sometimes a solicitor you find online might be a better fit & a lot of the documentation can be done over email anyway.

  7. Communication is the most important thing
  8. It’s really hard to determine this before actually committing to working with them, but in the reviews keep a keen eye out for any mention of their communication. It’s one of the biggest things with conveyancers and solicitors, you want to feel involved & regularly updated with progress, otherwise it can seem like there not doing anything and the whole process is dragging.

  9. Go with your gut feeling!
  10. Look around their website, read their reviews, take friends and families opinion on board, but the best thing at the end of the day to do is just to go with your gut instinct.


What other costs to look out for when selling your home

Now we’ve hopefully given you a good idea of what a solicitor may cost you – here’s a quick section on what other prices you have to consider when it’s time to sell your property:

Estate agents

If you have used an estate agent to sell your property, then they usually will charge you a fee, which can either be set fee or a percentage. We’ve written a complete guide to estate agent fees and what’s included for you.

EPC Certificate

To sell your home you’ll need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which costs anywhere between £60 and £120 and it’s valid for up to 10 years. It’s a vital part of the sale as it gives an accurate idea of the properties energy usage and costs.

Capital Gains Tax

This depends on your personal situation with the property, if you have made a profit on the sale of the house such as if it was a BTL in a previous life, you’ll need to pay CGT. We’ve got another guide on whether you have to pay Capital Gains Tax.

Avoid fees, extra cost & sell quickly

If you are in need of a quick sale, and don’t want to deal with the fees of solicitors or estate agents for that matter, then we can offer you a great solution. Here at The Property Buying Company we can buy your house in as little as 7 days, for cash, with no stress, no hassle and absolutely no fees.

We can’t offer you full market value, but we can offer you a fair value and an extremely quick sale.


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