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Can I sell my house without a solicitor?

Troy Stevens 01 December 2022

If you're considering selling your home and are looking into the costs involved, you might wonder if you can go through the process without instructing a solicitor.

But is this a smart idea or a false economy?

Yes, solicitors can be costly, but is ditching one even possible?

 

Selling a house with a solicitor

During a house sale, both the buyer and the seller will instruct a solicitor to undertake a process called conveyancing. For the seller’s solicitor, this involves legally transferring ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer and liaising with the buyer’s solicitor every step of the way.

This includes:

 

Form filling

If you’re selling your home, your solicitor will send you the various forms and questionnaires you’ll need to complete before a draft contract can be written up.

These forms give the buyer and their solicitor the information they need to make a final decision about the sale and ensure that everything is in order with the property from the legal side.

These forms include Property Information Forms such as TA6, which requests detailed information about the property you’re selling, including compliance with building and planning regulations, information about access rights and the supply of services, and environmental factors such as whether there is anything like Japanese knotweed and septic tanks on the land.

The TA10 form asks which fixtures and fittings you plan to leave in the property, and TA7 requires leasehold information if you’re selling a leasehold property.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

Yes – it's the seller's responsibility to complete these forms, and most of the time, the information is readily available to you as the homeowner. However, it can be helpful to have a property law professional on hand to answer any questions at this stage.

 

Document gathering

Your solicitor will also send you a list of documents you’ll need to gather before the contract can be created. This will include certificates, guarantees, warranties and permissions for building work or installation of things like heating systems or UPVC windows.

If you’re selling a leasehold property, you’ll need a Management Information Pack, including details about shared areas, a fire risk assessment, asbestos reports, maintenance fees, and more. This will come from the landlord or management company.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

Technically yes, you’ll have to gather these documents yourself anyway – although a solicitor will send you the list of exactly what’s required and can help you identify them if you’re a bit lost.

 

Contracts

Your solicitor will use the information you have provided in the Property Information Forms and send a draft contract to the buyer’s solicitor. This contract will include the property's price, deposit amount, and other relevant information at this stage.

The draft contract won’t yet be complete because the buyer’s solicitor will still need to conduct their conveyancing searches, and a house survey will need to be carried out, potentially affecting the terms of the contract.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

This is where things get tricky without a solicitor on your side. Unless you're well-versed in property law and used to drawing up contracts, it's very easy to miss something and make a mistake at this stage which could risk delaying the sale.

 

Timeline and liaison

Your solicitor will handle the timeline for your sale. They will liaise with the buyer’s solicitor and ensure that things like payment of deposit, contract signing, exchange of contracts and completion dates are agreed upon with the buyer.

Your solicitor should also check that things are running to schedule.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

Again, you technically can, although many people feel out of their depth here and would rather it was handled on their behalf. This is a delicate stage; the deal can fall through at any moment. Having said that, some people find it frustrating to rely on a third party to keep things moving and would rather be in charge themselves.

 

Exchange contracts

Your solicitor will exchange contracts with your buyer's solicitor at the pre-agreed time and date. This will involve them cross-checking the documents, recording the exchange and sending them via post to each other’s office.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

The exchange of contracts is essentially a swap of documentation, which needs to be recorded and signed for. As this is the stage where the sale becomes legally binding, having a solicitor to check the particulars is very reassuring.

 

Handle the money transfer

Hiring a solicitor means they’ll be responsible for receiving the buyer’s deposit and storing it safely until it can be transferred to you.

Can I do this without a solicitor?

Technically yes, although most buyers feel more confident dealing with a solicitor when transferring the deposit. This is because a solicitor will usually keep the deposit sum as a stakeholder until completion to minimise the risk of the seller defaulting on the full payment.

 

Do I need a solicitor to sell my house?

So, is a solicitor necessary when selling a house?

  • It might be a condition

There's no legal obligation to use a solicitor if you're selling a freehold property. It’s usually a condition when selling a leasehold, however.

  • You get a legal expert on your side

Solicitors come with legal expertise specific to the property, which can be invaluable if you encounter a legal roadblock or anomaly that could affect the sale. Remember, the buyer’s solicitor is tasked with finding any issue that could prevent the buyer from completing their purchase.

  • You might need them for your onward purchase

If you’re part of a chain, it often makes sense to use the same solicitor for conveyancing on your new property. If this is the case, it will be much more complicated to go solicitor-free, so it’s a sensible idea to opt for a solicitor in your sale if you’re buying, too.

  • You can opt for a conveyancer instead

You can use a licensed conveyancer instead of a solicitor. It is usually less expensive and there are no real disadvantages to doing this, as licensed conveyancers are trained in property law and are highly experienced in the process of transferring ownership of property.

When you hire a solicitor or conveyancer to help sell your home, you will benefit from their experience and expertise which could help rescue your sale if anything unexpected occurs.

Ultimately, by hiring a solicitor or conveyancer, you’re paying for the assurance that you have someone trained in property law looking out for your best interests during the sale.

 

 

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