We are commonly asked whether there is an advantage to selling your home through the same solicitor who did your purchase. With about 50% of properties in Scotland being sold through solicitor estate agents, it’s quite easy to find a solicitor in most parts of Scotland who can also market your home for sale. It’s therefore an important question for potential home sellers when choosing an estate agent. So, is there a benefit to selling with the agent who helped you to buy?
This common perception has some historical basis. From speaking with clients over the years, it is borne mainly of the belief that your solicitor holds your Title Deeds. The belief therefore is that, if you use the solicitor who handled your purchase to do your sale, you will minimise the hassle of getting your hands on your Title Deeds. Some other clients believe that, because the purchasing solicitor already knows the property, they will find it easier to deal with the sale. So, is there any truth in these assumptions?
The issue of who holds your Title Deeds was more likely to be an issue in years gone by. Title Deeds used to comprise bundles of ageing paper and it was essential that these were kept in a safe place after you bought your home, ready for the next time that you wanted to move. Much has changed in the meantime, however.
The advent of Land Registration was a game changer. The Land Registry was introduced in Scotland in 1981. Even in areas like Edinburgh which were late to the party, Land Registration was adopted in 2001. This means that any property purchased on or after 2001 will have been registered in the Land Register and not the Register of Sasines.
As a result, a Land Certificate will have replaced the bundle of old paperwork that used to comprise your Title Deeds. A replacement Land Certificate is easy, and cheap, to get your hands on.
The importance of Title Deeds to a residential property sale these days is more to do with other paperwork that might be associated with the Title Deeds. In many cases, this will include NHBC warranty paperwork or documentation relating to alterations to the property or guarantees for damp proofing or other specialist works.
Very often, this paperwork will have been sent to your mortgage lender for their safekeeping. More recently, many mortgage lenders have actually taken to returning Title Deeds that they were storing back to the borrower. So there’s a good chance that you actually are holding your own Title Deeds and indeed any other specialist paperwork relating to alterations or guarantees.
Quite often, the Land Certificate that the homeowner or mortgage lender are holding is out of date. The Land Certificate on the Registers of Scotland system should, however, be completely up to date.
One of the first things that MOV8’s conveyancing solicitors do when they are handling a property sale is to download a completely up to date Title Sheet extract from Registers of Scotland Online. Where Title Deeds are held by the homeowner or lender, it can be weeks until they arrive with our solicitors after they have been requested and we don’t want to let that delay hold up progress with the conveyancing. It’s still important to request the Title Deeds just in case they are associated with important paperwork that the homeowner has forgotten about and that will become important later in the transaction.
With regards to whether your solicitor will still remember the details of your purchase and therefore progress your sale more smoothly, it has to be noted that the estate agency department of most solicitor estate agency firms is separate from the conveyancing department. Solicitors often move between firms as well, so there’s a good chance that your original solicitor will no longer be working at the firm that handled your purchase.
Regardless, unless the original transaction was particularly complicated and unique, the new transfer of title will raise different issues during the negotiation stages and it is unlikely that much advantage will be gained from using the original purchasing solicitor to handle the new sale.
The importance of choosing the solicitor who dealt with your purchase has therefore evaporated in the past few years and we would encourage anyone who is thinking of selling their home to choose the estate agency firm that best suits their needs at that time.
If you are selling your home or investment property in 2017, please do get in touch with us by calling 0131 202 5444 (Option 1) or by emailing [email protected] to organise a free valuation of your home or to get a full, transparent breakdown of the costs of selling your home. Our expert Valuation Department can help you with suggestions to maximise the appeal of your home to buyers and get the best possible price if you are selling.
For more tips about preparing for a property valuation, you can also check out our YouTube video, Getting the Best Possible Property Valuation.