A guide to conveyancing fees
Everything you need to know about conveyancing fees, including what solicitors include in their fees and how much you can expect to pay.
What are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees cover the amount you’ll pay to make sure the legal side of a house sale or purchase is handled correctly. Conveyancing fees can be split into two parts: the legal fees (what the conveyancer or solicitor charges for doing the work), and the disbursements (what third parties charge for certain services).
How much are conveyancing fees?
The price of conveyancing fees will vary depending on a number of factors, because there is no industry wide set pricing scheme. The size of the bill can vary greatly depending on location because you may need to pay for additional searches if the property is near a river or coal mine, for example.
According to the Money Advice Service, conveyancing fees are typically between £850 and £1,500 including VAT.
How much are the legal fees?
The legal portion of the conveyancing fees bill covers the work done by the conveyancing solicitor themselves. The cost varies, but starts from £500 and can exceed £1,000.
What are the main disbursements?
- Anti-money laundering checks. These legal checks will verify your identity, and are likely to be done by an online company. You should expect to pay extra if you’re living abroad or a foreign national
- Title deeds. If you’re selling a property, you’ll need to get a copy of the Title of Deeds, which are most likely held by the Land Registry. Be warned that the cost for leasehold properties is higher than freehold.
- Searches. If you’re buying a property, you will need local authority searches, such as a drainage search and an environmental search, and a planning search if you want to find out about any development planned for nearby.
- Property fraud. You will want to check that the lawyer you’re sending money to is a real company.
- Transferring ownership. You have to pay the Land Registry a fee for transferring your name with your buyer’s name on completion.
- Telegraphic transfer or bank transfer fee. You’ll need to use a telegraphic transfer to guaranteed funds reach an account on a certain day, as requested by your mortgage provider. Your solicitor will charge a fee for performing the transfer, plus the bank’s charge.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax. If you’re buying a property worth more than £125,000 you’ll need to pay stamp duty. The cost because it’s charged on a sliding scale.
- Help to Buy supplement. If you’re buying with a Help to Buy scheme, you’re likely to be charged extra because of the additional legal work that this entails.
What are the charges for leasehold properties?
The conveyancing fees for leasehold properties will be much higher, as there are likely to be additional costs. You may need to pay for a Deed of Covenant, for example, which is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and landlord or management company about factors such as carrying out repair work.
Other work could include additional investigations into the length of the lease, as well as liaising with the landlord to serve notices on them or the managing agent, or getting further information about the service charge or management details, for example. The costs can be anything from £100 to £1,000.
Are there any other conveyancing fees to consider?
The most common associated costs have been listed above, however there are occasions when you may need to pay for other fees. One example is that if a seller doesn’t have a FENSA or building regulation certificate for their double glazed windows, an insurance policy may be needed.
What if my sale falls through?
Some conveyancing solicitors may offer a ‘no sale, no fee guarantee’, which means that if your sale falls through, you won’t have to pay the full conveyancing bill. Some may waive the legal fees, but it’s wise to get a clear explanation of what the guarantee covers before you hire their services.
Remortgaging conveyancing fees
If you’re in the process of remortgaging your property, you should expect to pay conveyancing fees as part of this process. Find out more about solicitors and remortgaging a property and the conveyancing process.
Do I have to hire a conveyancer?
While it’s not a legal requirement that you hire a conveyancing solicitor, it’s a very specialised skill and your mortgage lender may insist that you use a professional. However, it is possible to do conveyancing yourself if you don’t have a mortgage.
When do I have to pay conveyancing fees?
You may be asked to pay a deposit when you hire a conveyancing solicitor, and they could ask for up to 10% of the conveyancing fees to be paid. You will usually settle the rest of the conveyancing fees once the sale of the house is completed, although you could be asked to pay for things like local searches before then.
Do I need a conveyancing solicitor to transfer equity?
It’s highly likely that you’ll need to hire a conveyancing solicitor if you’re transferring equity on a property, for example if a relationship ends and the property is transferred to one of the couple. The typical activities that you could be charged for include a bankruptcy search, Land Registry search, identification search and transfer fees as well as the legal costs. If you’re planning to remortgage, you’ll face other conveyancing costs associated with this.
How can I save on conveyancing fees?
One of the best ways to save on fees is to shop around and compare conveyancing quotes.
It’s also good to know that members of the Home Owners Alliance can get 10% discount on legal fees. Find out more about membership benefits.
Top tip: when comparing conveyancing quotes, ask if all these disbursements are included and if not, whether they are likely to be required
Find the right conveyancing solicitor
Conveyancy is the area of law that draws the most complaints, according to the legal ombudsman – it accounts for nearly a quarter of all issues reported in 2016. This highlights how important it is to choose the right conveyancing solicitor.
It may seem simple and easy to accept your estate agent’s recommendation for a conveyancing solicitor, but they may be earning commission on this introduction and their suggestion may not be the best fit. You may prefer to avoid your estate agent’s in-house services for this reason. Always shop around and compare quotes for the best deal.
Online companies may come up cheaper when you compare conveyancing quotes, but you need to make sure you fully understand online conveyancing because their services will differ to local firms on your high street.
It’s always advisable to choose a conveyancing solicitor who is registered to a professional body and is able to support you throughout the process.
But one of most important things when it comes to finding a conveyancing solicitor is to compare quotes.
Worried about your conveyancing bill?
Remember: if you are unhappy with your final bill and think you have been overcharged, you have a right to complain. For more information, read our Ask An Expert Q&A.
- How to protect your property from fraud
- Finding the right conveyancer or solicitor
- Should I do my conveyancing online?
- Buying with a partner or friend – what to watch out for
- Leasehold v Freehold – what’s the difference?
- How much is stamp duty and when do I pay?
- How do I exchange contracts?
- Completion – what to expect