Having a good solicitor is key for a smooth property transaction. Let’s explore how much conveyancing fees are, some averages, what you’re paying for, and more.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal transfer of the property, between buyer and seller; where the legal title changes from one party to the other. There’s a lot that needs to happen during this process (after your offer has been accepted) overseen by a conveyancing solicitor, including:
- Being the point of contact for your mortgage lender
- Getting a copy of your mortgage offer
- Running property searches
- Organising deposit transfer
- Dealing with legal documents and queries
- Exchanging contracts between buyer and seller
- Organising the payment of your Stamp Duty
- Agreeing and meeting your completion date
What are conveyancing fees?
These are an inevitable cost when moving house, covering the amount you’ll pay to ensure the transaction is handled well. There are two parts to these fees:
|What the solicitor charges for doing the work||What third parties charge for certain services (e.g. property searches, title deeds etc.)|
A licensed conveyancer will usually have a ‘basic fee’, which is the cost of their time and expertise.
How much does conveyancing cost?
Conveyancing fees vary depending on many factors, for example, the legal work for leasehold properties is generally more. Location will also play a role in how much it costs, as additional searches might need to be carried out (for example if it’s near a river).
However, you can usually expect to pay £850-£1500 for legal costs, including VAT at 20%, plus disbursements.
Some of these apply if you’re buying or selling, some only affect one party.
|Disbursement||What is it?||Approximate cost||Buyers?||Sellers?|
|Title deeds||A Land Registry fee – you’ll need to get a copy if selling||£6||N/A||Yes|
|Searches||Local authority searches (e.g. environmental searches or a planning search if you want to find out any planning developments nearby)||£200-£450||Yes||N/A|
|Anti-money laundering checks||Checks to verify your identity||£5-£20||Yes||Yes|
|Stamp Duty||Tax if buying a property over £125,000||5-10% of property price (doesn’t apply if you’re a first-time buyer)||Yes||N/A|
|Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA||Your solicitor will have to do extra work to redeem any bonuses||£50+VAT||Yes||N/A|
|Property fraud||A check to see if you’re sending money to a real company||£10||Yes||N/A|
|Gifted deposits||Checks must be run to see if your deposit comes from a legitimate source||£100-£200||Yes||N/A|
|Help to Buy supplement||Additional costs associated with the extra legal work for the scheme||£200-£300||Yes||N/A|
|Transferring ownership||A fee paid to the Land Registry for transferring your name with your buyer’s name (on completion)||£200-£300||N/A||Yes|
|Transfer fees||A fee that guarantees funds will be transferred on a certain day||£20-£30 (for bank transfer, plus solicitor charge)||Yes||N/A|
We can connect you with our approved panel of solicitors who work on a no sale, no fee basis.
How much are conveyancing fees when selling a house (only)?
Expect the conveyancing process if you’re selling only (with a mortgage) to cost around £800. Add around £100-£400 if the property is a leasehold. If you don’t have a mortgage, it should be a bit less (as an estimate, subtract around £150-£100).
What is the average conveyancing fee (buying only)?
Expect to pay up to £1,500, again, more if it’s a leasehold of an older property, as these leases can be more complicated than for newbuilds. Cash buyers tend to pay around £100-£200 less.
Why is the conveyancing service more expensive for leaseholds?
Leasehold conveyancing requires communication between more people as there are third parties involved like management companies and freeholders. Also, the age of the property (and its lease) can also have a bearing on this, as some leases for older homes can be complicated.
A lease is an important complex legal document that a conveyancer needs to read and understand. They will also need to address things such as:
- Establish who is the freeholder and/or management company
- Investigations (e.g. lease length) and establishing the leaseholders legal obligationsGetting further information on service charges and associated costs
- Paying for a Deed of Covenant (legally binding agreement between buyer and freeholder about certain factors, such as carrying out repair work)
- Establishing who manages the building insurance policy and ensuring it is in place
- Ensuring the building insurance policy meets the requirements of the buyers mortgage lender
- Getting information on management details
- Establish if there have been any disputes between neighbours, management company and/or landlord or freeholder
Expect to pay anything from £100-£1,000 extra, depending on what your conveyancer finds and required action as a result. If things get complicated, fees could exceed £1000.
When do you pay conveyancing fees?
You may be asked to pay a deposit when you hire a conveyancing solicitor, or an ‘upfront payment on account’. This can be up to £500, usually starting from around £150. They could also ask for 10% of conveyancing costs to be paid for upfront.
Usually, the rest of the costs are settled on completion, although you might be asked to pay for things like property searches sooner.
Are there any other fees involved?
There are certain occasions where you might be asked to pay more, for example, if the seller doesn’t have a FENSA or building regulation certificate.
What to watch for when choosing a solicitor
If you’re selling or buying a house, a conveyancer is a key part of the process. Look for one who is proactive and has the capacity to take on the extra workload. Also, ensure that they have support – i.e. if they go away on holiday who will look after your case? You don’t want things to stand still for two weeks.
- Higher costs don’t automatically guarantee a better service
- Ultra-cheap should ring alarm bells
- Some firms might take work that should be covered by the conveyancer’s basic fee and call them ‘potential additional disbursements’ (or hide them away in small print) and put a hefty price tag on them
- This could also mean you’ve been assigned to a junior conveyancer with less experience – make sure they have a team to support them
- Be wary of any quote that does not fully itemise disbursements
- If a quote is missing any expected disbursements (e.g. property searches) consider it incomplete
- Always check the itemised breakdown!
- It’s impossible for a quote to be ‘100%’ accurate first time, certain things may come up as the process continues
What if the sale falls through?
Many solicitors work on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis, which means you won’t have to pay the full bill if it doesn’t go through. Remember: an accepted offer doesn’t mean the sale is guaranteed, so be prepared.
Before you instruct a solicitor, it’s a good idea to get a clear explanation of how they work and when/what you’ll be expected to pay.
When should you find a solicitor?
Once you have an offer agreed, your solicitor will get to work. However, it’s advisable to be prepared and ready to go in advance, so when you’ve got your mortgage in principle, that’s the time to engage a solicitor. This can help avoid delays and help the transaction go as smoothly as possible.
We can connect you with our panel of experts, all who have a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee. Get a conveyancing quote below.
Last Updated: September 1st, 2021