Do You Need a Conveyancer or Solicitor to Sell a House in Southwest London?


‘Do I need a conveyancer to sell a house?’ is something we get asked a lot by people looking to sell and buy property in Wandsworth, Tooting or Balham.

Moving is a costly business, when you add in the stamp duty, removals, agency and legal fees – not to mention home improvements to increase your chance of selling. Home movers sometimes wonder whether conveyancing is an area to make savings – by using a non-traditional online service or even doing the legal work themselves.

If you’re wondering ‘do I need a conveyancer to sell a house’, we wouldn’t recommend scrimping on costs in this area. Wandsworth borough is among the most expensive areas to buy and sell in London, so your home is a substantial asset. Having a sale fall through can be extremely costly and seriously derail your plans. Don’t risk things going wrong by failing to have the right legal support in place.

To explain more, we look at what exactly conveyancing is and the things you need to think about if you’re wondering, ‘do I need a conveyancer to sell a house?’

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to the legal side of selling a home. It’s about making sure that ownership of the property transfers smoothly from seller to buyer, from the point when an offer is accepted to completion.

Your conveyancer will review all the legal documents associated with the sale, carry out local authority and environmental searches – checking for flood risks, planning applications, etc.
They will check that the contract is in order too, talking to the buyer’s conveyancer as well as consulting their mortgage lender, paying fees and registering the buyer as new owner with the Land Registry.

Should I choose a conveyancer or solicitor when selling a house?

You can use either a conveyancer or solicitor to sell your home, and which you choose may come down to whether you have an established relationship with a particular firm or have received good personal recommendations.

The difference between these two legal professionals is that a licensed conveyancer is a property specialist who works entirely in this sector, dealing with the purchase and sale of houses every single day.

Solicitors are equally capable of carrying out the work, but they are qualified to work in other areas of the law too. This could mean they are harder to get hold of when you need them – because they sometimes attend court.

Often, but not always, conveyancers’ fees are lower than solicitors’. However, you may need a solicitor for a particularly complex sale involving an issue such as a boundary dispute.

When choosing a solicitor make sure they belong to the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme. For conveyancers, it’s the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

How much are conveyancing fees for selling a house?

Fees vary, as do the way they are calculated. You might be quoted a fixed fee or a percentage of the sale price. Always make sure you ask what is included – you should know upfront the cost of searches, bank transfer, Land Registry fees and VAT etc. You should expect higher fees for selling a leasehold property – as there is more work involved.

Average conveyancing fees for selling range from around £1200 to £2000 – more for buying. Using the same conveyancer to buy and sell should bring your costs down.

You’ll also need to pay for a copy of title deeds from the Land Registry, money-laundering checks and bank transfer fees. Find out more about how much conveyancing fees are in London in our blog.

What does a conveyancer do when selling a house?

The main jobs your conveyancer will do are:

  1. Prepare legal contracts.
  2. Carry out local authority and environmental searches.
  3. Obtain your mortgage resettlement figure.
  4. Get hold of the title deeds.
  5. Distribute and receive sellers’ questionnaires.
  6. Receive the deposit.
  7. Negotiate with your buyer’s legal team.
  8. Negotiate moving dates.
  9. Approve deed of transfer.
  10. Receive the balance on the property.
  11. Transfer the deeds of ownership.

When should I instruct a conveyancer?

You should do all the legwork to decide on the firm you’re going to use as early as possible when you’ve decided to move. If you’re selling, instruct your solicitor as soon as you accept an offer on the property. This means no time is wasted in moving the sale forward, helping ensure a smooth process.

Can I do my own conveyancing?

You are legally entitled to do your own conveyancing but you should be aware of the time the process takes and that there are risks involved. If things go wrong, you could face increased costs and you might struggle to put things right – if there are survey problems or a buyer with cold feed at a late stage. And unlike a qualified conveyancer, you won’t have negligence insurance so you will be personally liable if you make a mistake.

If you are looking to move house and are thinking of selling in Wandsworth, give us a call. We can talk you through any aspect of the moving process and offer you a no-obligation market appraisal of your home.