What does a solicitor do?
Whether a solicitor or a conveyancer, we explain what work is needed to be done and why you can't sell a house without a solicitor.


What does a solicitor for for the seller?

(Last Updated: 03/10/2023)
4 min read
Key Takeaways
  • The seller's solicitor provides information to the buyer's solicitor.
  • You can't sell a house without a solicitor.
  • Only the seller and the buyer's solicitor can talk to the seller's solicitor.
  • A solicitor is qualified, carries professional indemnity insurance and their work is regulated by the SRA.

A conveyancing solicitor handles the legal work to transfer a property title from the seller to the buyer. The work a solicitor undertakes depends on whether they are acting for the buyer or the seller. In this article, we are going to explain what a property solicitor does for the seller and what you should do if you want a more stress-free sale. Read more - What documents do solicitors need when selling a house? and How much does a solicitor charge to sell a house?

What does your solicitor do?

The primary role of the seller's solicitor is to provide the information given to them about the property to the buyer's solicitor and support the seller in obtaining any additional information required. These are the main tasks a selling solicitor undertakes:

  • Draft contracts – Your solicitor drafts the initial legal contract to be sent to the buyer's solicitor. Read more - What is the draft contract pack?
  • Responding to enquiries – following the receipt of the draft contract, legal title and your property documents (as above), the seller's solicitor responds to any questions (also known as raising enquiries) the buyer's solicitor may have (this is where you'll find out if you are missing documents which can cause delays to your sale).
  • Investigating issues – for some enquiries that can't be easily evidenced, the seller's solicitor needs to complete further investigation to try and satisfy them. The challenge here is if there is limited or no information to provide.
  • Exchange contracts – once the buyer's solicitor has satisfied their enquiries, they agree with the seller to exchange contracts, making the buyer legally bound to buy the property. Although buyers can still pull out, this can be financially costly (read more about Can you pull out after exchange of contracts)
  • Day of completion – on the day of completion, the seller's solicitor receives the money for the sale, discharges the mortgage (if required), pays the estate agent, deducts their fee and then sends the net sale proceeds to you.
  • Post completion – following completion, the seller's solicitor receives the DS1 discharge documents and, when leasehold, settles the seller's liabilities for ground rent and service charges.

For the seller, the solicitor’s obligations are to provide evidence to the buyer’s solicitors, that has been supplied to them by their clients. In some instances, information won’t be available and they should, in these cases, assist in procuring the information the buyer’s solicitors need. You can read the property forms a seller has to complete here - Property Information Forms.

Under the stress that comes with buying a home, you'll need expert, independent property advice from your solicitor. We have property solicitors specifically trained in the strategy of buying and selling a property. If you are looking for a property solicitor for your conveyancing then call us on 0333 344 3234 or click here to get an online quote.

Why does a seller need a solicitor to sell a house?

  • Experience. Conveyancers and solicitors sell houses on a daily basis, handling the huge number of issues that crop up. Similar to how you'd need a doctor to operate, it is something you should let them do as they know what to do, how to do it and what is in your best interest.
  • Insurance. Conveyancers and solicitors carry indemnity insurance, in the event of making any mistakes.
  • Regulated. Conveyancers and solicitors are regulated, to ensure they deliver their services in accordance with the rules and code of conduct.

Property Seller's Quote

Do you need a solicitor to sell a house?

You need a solicitor to sell a house or flat because the buyer's solicitor needs a seller's solicitor to:

  • give undertakings on completion, that the seller can't do, such as to remove any restrictions or charges over the property title.
  • validate the ID and proof of title ownership of the seller.
  • reply to any complex enquiries.

Whilst you can fill in the protocol forms and source a lot of the information without a solicitor, the buyer's solicitor won't complete unless they have a solicitor or conveyancer acting for the seller.

Sold as seen

A property in England and Wales is sold under the principle of caveat emptor, better known as buyer beware. Simply put, the buyer cannot recover damages from the seller for defects on the property that rendered the property unfit for ordinary purposes. The only exceptions are if you actively concealed defects or otherwise made material misrepresentations which amount to fraud.

As the seller, you should present to the buyer as much information as you have available about your property, with as much detail as possible. By not presenting this information you risk a long drawn-out conveyancing sale and potentially, a buyer pulling out - no buyer wants to feel the seller is hiding issues.

If you are selling a leasehold

TA7 Leasehold Information Form (click to find out more)

Management Information including information about ground rent and service charge accounts, last 3 year's accounts, planned maintenance or major works.
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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