The legal fees when you buy and sell property are one of the key expenses to factor into the cost of your house move.
How much you pay can vary depending on the company you use, your location and how complex your sale is. Before you commission a conveyancing solicitor, it’s worth understanding more about the process, and what is included in the fees. To help you, we answer some of the questions we’re often asked about conveyancing fees.
What is included in my conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees are made of up two elements:
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The legal fees you pay to your conveyancer or solicitor for their work
Disbursements – the name given to the charges for searches and other third-party services.
How much are conveyancing fees?
As we’ve said, the price you pay will depend on a number of factors. You will pay more if you need additional searches because the property is near a river or coal mine, for example, and if you are buying or selling a leasehold property.
Legal fees vary, but expect to pay between £850 and £1,500, plus disbursements – more if it’s a leasehold property.
The main disbursements you will need to pay include:
Anti-money laundering checks – legal checks of your identity, which will add up to around £20.
Title deeds – when selling you’ll need a copy of the title deeds from the Land Registry. The cost is £7.
Transferring ownership – you also need to pay the Land Registry a fee for transferring your name to the property on completion. The cost of transferring ownership is £200-£300.
Searches – before buying, your conveyancer will conduct local authority searches. These searches check for factors including listed building status, tree preservation orders and any planned road or rail links that could affect the property. You will also need to pay for drainage and environmental searches. Expect to pay between £150-£300.
Property fraud checks – to establish that the seller’s conveyancer exists and that you’re not involved in property fraud – the fee is around £10.
Telegraphic Transfer fees – charged by a bank or building society to send sums of money larger than £60,000. They can cost between £20 and £50.
If you’re buying a property, you will also need to pay stamp duty land tax, charged on a sliding scale depending on the purchase price. Currently, there is no stamp duty to pay on the first £250,000 of a property purchase, while the stamp duty holiday is phased out. The threshold will revert to £125,000 from 1 October 2021.
How is it different for leasehold properties?
The conveyancing fees for buying leasehold properties as likely to higher as there will be additional costs. These could include setting up an agreement with the landlord or management company and liaising about service charges, as well as investigating the length of the lease. The costs can be anything from £100 to £1,000.
Will I need to pay conveyancing fees if I remortgage my property or transfer equity?
In both of these cases you should expect to pay some conveyancing fees. If you’re transferring equity on a property, after a relationship breakdown for example, typical fees include bankruptcy search, Land Registry search, identification search and transfer fees as well as the legal costs.
When do I pay conveyancing fees?
You will probably be asked for a deposit up-front and to pay the rest of the fees on completion, though you may be asked to pay for searches as they happen.
What if my sale falls through?
Some conveyancing solicitors operate on a no sale, no fee basis while others might waive the legal fees if things go wrong. Check this from the outset, so you are clear how things will work.
Do I have pay conveyancing fees?
While it is possible to do your own conveyancing, it takes a large amount of time and effort and comes with significant risks – increased costs if you carry out unnecessary or wrong searches, for example. Without a full understanding of your legal obligations, your buyer might be able to convince you to reduce your sale price. And you will not have negligence insurance, making you personally liable for any mistakes.
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It is always worth comparing quotes. Make sure you are clear about what is included in the prices you are quoted and find out how the fees are calculated. You may be quoted a fixed fee, a percentage of the sale price or an hourly rate. Make sure the quotes show all costs, including searches, bank transfer and Land Registry fees and VAT.
You should also find out the cost of any additional work if the process becomes more complex than anticipated.
How do I find a conveyancer for my house move?
Shop around for quotes but don’t look at cost alone. Ask friends or colleagues who have bought and sold in the area for personal recommendations and check online reviews too.
The Law Society advises checking the solicitor is part of its Conveyancing Quality Scheme – the recognised quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property. If you are using a conveyancer, check that they are registered with the specialist property law regulator, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
If you are thinking of a house move, we can advise you on all the things to think about when buying or selling. Contact us, to talk about our services today.
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