How Are Conveyancing Fees Calculated?
The cost of moving house can be quite daunting, especially when you find yourself being billed for things you do not fully understand. In this document we will be taking you through some of the costs you will incur through your solicitor for their services and other conveyancing procedures as it is your solicitor’s job to conduct a number of legal procedures that ensure the lawful transfer of ownership from one party to another which will involve payment on your part.
But what are you paying for and how is it all worked out? In the coming days or weeks you will be seeking a number of conveyancer quotes. Here are some of the things to look out for if you are interested in how they are calculated.
When browsing through your online conveyancing quotes, you might have noticed that costs can vary considerably from one conveyancer to the next. There are a number of reasons costs can vary when making a conveyancing comparison. Fees can depend on the kind of property you wish to buy/sell and its location. Both these factors can affect the types of searches that should be carried meaning a discrepancy in costs, which vary between local authorities. Also the way conveyancing quotes are presented to you will need examining to make sure all the little extras have been added. We will look at this a bit later.
What Exactly Does A Conveyancing Solicitor Do?
Every property transaction is different but a standard property transaction will generally work like this:
- You must make a comparison of several different conveyancing firms/solicitors and instruct your chosen solicitor who will act on your behalf throughout the process. We always advise that you get several different quotes to compare what each firm offers and what they charge as their base rate. Check the small print! This step goes hand in hand with step 2 which will happen around the same time.
- You make an offer on the property you wish to purchase and the seller accepts. If you are selling a house also, then ideally you would have accepted an offer on your own property before getting the ball rolling.
- Your conveyancing solicitor will start to carry out all the relevant searches on the property. After this they will write to the seller’s solicitor and request a draft contract and any other selling documents that they require.
- It is during this time that you will be required to organise a house survey and put buildings insurance in place to start upon completion, when the property legally becomes yours.
Exchange of contracts
- 5. Both you and the seller both sign copies of the contract. You also agree to a completion date.
- 6. Contracts are exchanged. From now on, the property sale is legally binding and you must make sure that you have buildings insurance in place.
- 7. You pay your deposit to the seller via your solicitor. They will pay it on through electronic transfer.
- 8. Once contracts have been exchanged, your conveyancer will lodge an interest with the Land Registry.
- 9. Your solicitor receives mortgage funds from your lender. This will often happen the day before completion. Upon completion, your solicitor will transfer all the outstanding balance to the seller’s solicitor.
- 10. When the seller’s solicitor confirms they have received the money, the property is yours.
After the sale
- 11. After contracts have been exchanged, your solicitor will register the transfer of property deeds with the Land Registry.
- 12. You now have 30 days for Stamp Duty to be paid. Although your solicitor will arrange this for you, it is you who faces any penalties should payment be made late so always chase this up.
How Much Are Solicitors Fees When Buying A House?
Conveyancing solicitor fees range from around £500-£1,500 (excluding stamp duty) and tend to be broken down into standard legal fees and disbursements. Here is a rundown of some of the main items you are likely to find on each of your conveyancer quotes:
- Purchase Legal Fees / Legal Fee -This is the Conveyancing Solciitor’s base legal fee for acting on your behalf when buying and/or selling a property. Your conveyancer will quote you a flat feeor a percentage of the value of the property you are purchasing. You can expect to be charged between £500 and £1,500 depending on the property type, its location and how straight-forward or complex the transaction is.
- Disbursements – While legal fees are charged by your conveyancing solicitor to cover the work they undertake on your behalf disbursements are the fees incurred by third parties, which the conveyancer bills you for, then pays to the third party on your behalf. Disbursements include local searches and cost up to £300 on top of your standard legal fees. While some disbursements – such as bankruptcy checks, ID verification, and the final Land Registry check are all under £10, others can run into the £100s and add considerably to the overall conveyancing fee.
- Bankruptcy Search – Your lender must make sure that you, or anybody else named on the mortgage, has not been declared bankrupt. £2-£4 per person.
- ID Check / AML Check – This is a check to make sure that all of the people involved in the sale/purchase can confirm their identity. It forms part of the Anti Money Laundering regulations which are now in place with most lenders as well as the UK Government. £2-£18 per person.
- Telegraphic Transfer Fee / Bank Transfer Fee – This is a fee that the lender charges to cover the cost of sending the money electronically for the purchase of the property, over to the seller’s conveyancing solicitor. £25-£45 plus VAT.
- Land Registry Charge – This is a fixed cost and which depends on the value of the property you buy. This cost should be included in your conveyancing quote. These can be paid electronically or by post. £20-£910
- Land Registry office copies – These confirm that you are the legal owner of the property that is being sold to you. £4-£8
- Mortgage redemption fee – Your solicitor might charge for the work involved in paying off the remainder of your mortgage. £60-£80
- Local authority searches– Local authority searches are undertaken to ensure that the council have not made any plans change anything that will affect your property in the future. This could include any planned major road changes or if it is built in any contaminated land. Costs differ depending on where you live. £100-£200
- Water and drainage search – these costs vary depending on your water company. Searches will confirm whether or not your property is connected to mains water, drainage and surface water drainage. (£30-£40 plus VAT)
- Environmental search – This search checks whether there is any contaminated land near your property. £30-£35 plus VAT.
Estimated possible fees you could face in England or Wales include:
|Items||Fees||Buyer pays||Seller pays|
|Conveyancing fees||£400 – £1,500||✔||✔|
|Possible cost for Help to Buy||£200 – £300||✔|
|Land Registry fee||£20 – £910||✔|
|Leasehold property – additional cost||£100 – £300||✔||✔|
|Copy of title deed||£4 – £12||✔|
|Searches||£200 – £400||✔|
|Bank transfer fee||£25 – £50|
“Cheap” Conveyancing Fees
Quite often, conveyancing firms will offer very cheap online conveyancing quotes (initially) in order to attract customers. Sometimes these prices look too good to be true. Quite often they are.
With any conveyancing comparison you make, you should double check whether they have only quoted the base legal fee, missing out the disbursements. Again, sometimes they do not add the VAT to the initial bill which makes the quote appear cheap. This is now against transparency laws and all prices must be offered in full, plus VAT, upon enquiry.
Who Do I Pay The Conveyancing Fees To?
Your conveyancing fees, in their entirety, plus disbursements and other costs, are payable directly to your conveyancing solicitor. This is inclusive of their time, registrations, paperwork, postage and other costs they have had to incur over the transaction. Always obtain several conveyancer quotes before deciding on a solicitor..