Buying a home is said to be one of life’s most stressful experiences, but while the process is easier for a home seller, there are still issues to deal with and there are solicitor’s fees to pay for selling your house.
Whether you’re selling a flat or a large detached property, you will still need to pay these fees.
And it’s essential that this work is done by professionals and you should hire a solicitor or a specialist conveyancing firm to do this work on your behalf.
It’s helpful that there are conveyancing calculators available so you simply enter a few details about the property that is being sold and receive quotes from various conveyancing solicitors offering the best value in the UK to meet your needs.
Otherwise, you’ll need to visit various websites of solicitors or use a recommendation from family and friends.
Fortunately, conveyancing is a competitive part of the home buying and selling process, so it’s always worth shopping around. Only once you understand typical solicitor fees for selling a house should you instruct a solicitor.
How much do you pay a solicitor when selling a house?
As with everything when it comes to buying and selling homes, how much you pay a solicitor when selling a house will vary. You will need to:
- Shop around or you may find a solicitor that has been recommended to you. The solicitor will tailor their fees to the potential house sale value to pay for their time working on the legal process.
- Be aware that it’s usual for solicitors fees for selling a house to be based on a fixed cost basis, though some will charge by the hour.
Whichever route you decide to take, the conveyancing fees will range from £500-£1,500. This is whether you’re selling your home privately, using a High Street estate agent or an online agent.
That’s because the same amount of work will be necessary and there are no shortcuts to take to reduce this bill. The amount should cover all the legal fees for selling a house you need to be concerned about.
So, while you could opt to use an online conveyancing because they’re cheaper, you will need to ensure that all of the paperwork is done correctly, and this is explained more clearly in another Property Road article about using solicitors and conveyancing firms.
Do you need a solicitor to sell a house?
The answer as to whether you need a solicitor to sell a house is ‘Yes’. And no. Essentially, you need either a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to deal with the transaction.
It’s important that you don’t use the same solicitor as the homebuyer, even though they may recommend this to reduce costs because solicitors are not allowed to represent both parties. You could, however, use the same legal firm.
And while it may be tempting for a seller to save money and undertake the conveyancing process for themselves, this really is a complicated process that needs to be carried out thoroughly by professionals. So unless you are a qualified solicitor with time on your hands, don’t do it.
You also need to appreciate that the conveyancing can take up to three months for it to be completed and a small mistake made by you could jeopardise the entire transaction.
Along with the solicitor’s fees, there will be additional costs to be paid by the home seller, including regulatory government fees and disbursements.
These are extra costs covering things like the ID identity checks to prevent money laundering, stamp duty and Land Registry charges.
What do solicitors and conveyancers do when selling a house?
Most sellers may be surprised to hear that they have legal fees to pay when selling and may be wondering what a conveyancer will do when selling their property. Essentially, their services cover:
- The transfer of deeds;
- Title deeds;
- The sale agreement;
- Deal with buyer enquiries;
- The property information form;
- The draft contract of sale;
- Contract signing;
- The exchange of contracts;
- They will receive the deposit;
- Take care of the money transfer for you.
Do solicitors charge if house sale falls through?
It’s important to understand the difference between a solicitor and an estate agent when querying whether a solicitor will charge if your house sale falls through.
Since a solicitor is engaged to carry out work and will have started the process, then it’s likely you will be charged for their time and effort regardless of whether your sale transaction completes.
You will certainly be handed a bill for the cost of disbursements and other regulatory fees they have racked up.
That’s not the case for the estate agent, who only gets paid once the transaction is complete and they collect their commission from the sale.
It’s likely you will not have to pay the full agreed amount to a solicitor because they will not have completed all of the relevant work. If they have, then yes, you will need to pay for the solicitor’s bill, even though your house transaction has fallen through.
This is also the point to highlight that you will have signed a legal and binding contract with the conveyancing solicitor, known as the terms of business with an estimate of the fees and what would happen if a house purchase did not complete.
Depending on when the house sale falls through, the solicitor may have done lots of work on your behalf and claim this amount, or they may charge you 70% to 80% of the fees that were originally quoted.
Conveyancing fees, selling only
When searching online for a firm interested in offering ‘conveyancing fees, selling only’ then you’ll find lots of specialist firms wanting to help.
However, you will really need to check the small print to ensure that there are no hidden charges or costs that you will have to pay in conveyancing fees when selling your home.
That’s because some conveyancers or websites may charge for things that should really be covered in the basic sales fee as they add these as extras on their invoice or categorise them under disbursements.
This means that they will essentially offer a cheap conveyancing service for selling a home, but bump up their fees with so-called disbursements, whereas a more trustworthy conveyancing firm will make clear these charges when they take you on as a client.
There are conveyancing comparison websites available, and if you want to agree to a conveyancing fee without any extras then this is known as a fixed fee conveyancing service.
There are a number of issues that affect the fees being charged when selling a property and these include:
- Property tenure: Whether your property is freehold or a leasehold property may have an impact on the costs being quoted;
- Shared ownership schemes: Should there be a shared ownership scheme involved in your house sale, then this may push up the charges to deal with the complexities involved and also the additional paperwork;
- Mortgage redemption: Some solicitors may charge extra fees should there be a mortgage settlement involved when selling your house.
Why do home sellers pay less in legal fees?
Put simply, for the home seller their legal duties are not as extensive or as expensive as they are for the buyer.
However, these legal duties are just as important and it’s important that you seek confirmation from a solicitor as to how much they will charge in writing before they begin work.
This means it’s really important to find the right conveyancing solicitor at the right price.
How much does it cost to sell a house in Scotland?
If you want to know how much it costs to sell a house in Scotland, then you need to appreciate that the rules are slightly different in that country.
The big difference between selling a home in England and Scotland is the Home Report put together by a chartered surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and paid for by the seller.
This was launched in December 2008 and the home seller must provide a home report to a potential buyer consisting of three separate documents:
- The energy performance certificate (EPC) for the house;
- A single survey;
- The property questionnaire.
Again, home sellers in Scotland will need a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to carry out the relevant legal work and their fees are around the same as they are in England.
And, as in England, the seller will not have to pay the Scottish equivalent of Stamp Duty – which is the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, known as LBTT.
Stamp duty when selling a house
One of the few fees that the home seller is not liable for when selling a home in England is that for stamp duty. This is the responsibility of the home buyer and not the seller.
If the property is worth less than £125,000, then there’s no stamp duty to pay and for homes worth more than that, then there’s a tiered structure on how much is needed to pay.
Our top tips for solicitor’s fees when selling a house
To sum up, these top tips will prove helpful when searching for solicitor’s fees to sell a house and they include:
- Choose the right solicitor for a stress-free and successful transaction;
- Be wary of any conveyancing firm offering a too cheap price;
- Or is too expensive;
- You don’t have to use a solicitor or conveyancer recommended by your estate agent;
- Always, always shop around for the best deal.