Solicitor & conveyancing fees explained
It’s a lot easier to hire a conveyancing solicitor to get a property transferred quickly and correctly, but everything comes at a price! If you’re both buying and selling a house, and want to get to grips with the fees involved with a conveyancing solicitor, take a look at the handy guide below.
What are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing is the general name given to all the legal processes which transfer the title of a property into someone else’s name. You need to do this when you buy and sell a house – but the legalities can be a little tricky to handle on your own.
When you hire a conveyancing solicitor, they’ll take care of all this on your behalf, but it’s important to know about the fees involved. Conveyancing fees are made up of two types of charges:
Conveyancer’s basic fee
The conveyancer’s basic fee is essentially the amount a solicitor charges for their time and services. This doesn’t include any costs they have to cover to get the job done, it’s simply what it will cost for them to do the job for you.
Disbursement fees are the actual chargers the solicitor has to cover when you’re buying or selling your home, and they’re ensuring all the proper protocols are in place. Typical disbursements include charges for the following:
- Local authority searches
- Land registry title deed copies
- Telegraphic transfer fee
- Water and drainage searches
- Stamp duty land tax
- Environmental searches
- Bank transfer fee
- ID verification
- Land registry searches
- Mortgage redemption fee
When it comes to conveyancing your home, both of these charges with be combined to make up your total fee.
How much does conveyancing cost?
Of course, conveyancing fees can differ depending on who you go with, your area, and the specific work involved with transferring the legal titles of your home. With this in mind, we have calculated the average costs you can expect to pay below:
When buying a house
- Land registry charge – £20-£910: The cost of your land registry charge completely depends on the value of the property, and whether or not it’s completed electronically or by post. It’s usually around half the price electronically, and prices start at £20 for an electronic land registry charge for a property with a value of £80,000 or less, but goes up to a postal land registry charge of £910 for properties worth £1,000,001 or more.
- Land registry title deed copies – £4-£8: This is a charge for documents proving the person currently transferring the house over to you is actually the owner.
- Mortgage handling fee – £60-£80: This is a legal cost a solicitor may charge for working with a lender to set your mortgage up correctly.
- HMLR final search – £3-£7: This is the final land registry search just before completion of the sale.
- Water and drainage search – £30-£80: This is the cost of confirmation from your water provider that you’re connected to mains water, drainage and surface water drainage – it’ll vary slightly depending on the water company.
- Telegraphic transfer fee – £25-£45: This is a charge from the bank for transferring the amount to buy your home over to the conveyancing solicitor.
- Environmental search – £30-£35: This is the cost of checking if there is any contaminated land in your area.
- ID verification – £2-£18: This can be charged for services used by the solicitor to verify the ID you’ve provided.
- Stamp Duty – 0%-12%: This is a purchase tax on your property, which is charged as a percentage of the sale price. Stamp tax is charged on properties over £125,001 starting at 2%, and increases in percent with price, up to 12% for a home worth over £1,500,000.
When selling a house
- Land registry title deed copies – £4-£8: This charge is for documents proving you’re the legal owner of the property you’re selling.
- Mortgage redemption fee – £60-£80: This is a charge for legal work involved with paying off the rest of your mortgage.
- Telegraphic transfer fee – £24-£45: This is a legal charge that can occur when a solicitor transfers funds to repay your existing mortgage.
When it comes to the conveyancer’s basic fee, this is usually the same when selling or buying a house, and sits at around £500 on average.
Other costs that can crop up
While it can seem simple enough to assess the basic conveyancing fees and disbursements you think might be relevant to the home you’re buying or selling, there are some more unusual or additional fees that can take you by surprise.
Make sure when you talk to a conveyancing solicitor, you’re sure about all the fees you’ll have to pay, and nothing is hidden in your agreement. Below are some extra charges and fees that are commonly charged, occur in unique circumstances or only crop up occasionally.
This is a fee that’s becoming increasingly common – it’s also known as a booking fee and is usually charged when setting up a fixed rate mortgage.
When you make a new advance with a building society, they have a legal obligation to report and valuate the property under the Building Societies Act, 1986. There can often be a charge involved for this.
Energy performance certificate
Commonly known as an EPC, you’ll need to have your house assessed to obtain an up to date energy performance certificate – it’s mandatory when moving to a new house and can sometimes fall under disbursements if arranged by your solicitor rather than yourself.
When a third party, such as an estate agent, recommends a conveyance solicitor, it’s likely they’re charging for the good word. If you do go with a recommendation, be sure to ask about the referral fee they’re paying for your work, as you’re probably the one footing the bill.
Solar panel documents
If you have solar panels, or you’re going to have them fitted in your new house, your conveyance solicitor may charge you to deal with the mandatory paperwork.
Leasehold property fees
You’ll often face a larger conveyancing fee if you’re selling a leasehold property – there’s more paperwork and legal processes to go through, which can mean extra disbursements and a higher price for their time.
Private draining searches
If your solicitor has to order searches on private draining, then there will be an extra charge to pay for this service.
If you’re buying or selling your home through a government scheme, such as Help to Buy or the Help to Buy ISA, a Lifetime ISA, Right to Buy or a Help to Buy Equity Loan, you’ll often face some extra charges for the bonus paperwork.
The difference between fixed fee and percentage-based conveyancing fees
While the breakdown of conveyancing fees can be pretty uniform, the way they are charged can differ. The most common way solicitors charge for conveyancing is either on a percentage-based quota, or on a fixed fee basis.
Conveyancing fees that are based on the value of the home you’re buying or selling – they’ll charge a percentage of this value for your conveyancing fees. However, some solicitors offer this for their basic fees, without disbursements. Always ensure you understand if the whole charge is percentage-based.
Fixed fee conveyancing takes a number of elements to calculate the cost of your conveyancing – such as the disbursements they anticipate covering – and only charge this fee no matter the final sale or buying price.
|Advantages||You can budget for your conveyancing fees in advance.|
You shouldn’t face extra charges if something unexpected crops up – but check your contract.
These solicitors often offer ‘no sale no fee’.
|If your home is less expensive, you may end up paying less for your fees than if they were fixed.|
You shouldn’t face extra charges if something unexpected crops up – but check your contract.
|Disadvantages||You may end up paying more for their services than you would if you were paying percentage or hourly based.||If the value of your home is high, then you may pay over the odds for your conveyancing fees.|
It’s difficult to budget beforehand.
How to find the best quotes
Paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll receive a better service, and a cheaper solicitor may not necessarily deliver great value – so it’s important to shop around a little.
- Get recommendations: Talk to friends and family about their experiences with conveyancing solicitors, and see if anyone recommends a firm.
- Compare online: Many comparison websites can help you find estimated quotes – and some will even offer a discount if you buy from their site.
- Give every detail: Make sure to be completely honest and thorough when looking for a quote, it’s the best way to avoid any nasty surprise fees down the road.
- Calculate total prices: When you get quotes, solicitors often give a break down rather than a total price – make sure to add it all together and compare total incurred costs when comparing different companies.
- Check out reviews: It’s important not to go with a conveyancer based on prices alone. Take a look at the reviews of a company online and be especially cautious if you can’t seem to find any.
Shouldn’t I go with the solicitor at the estate agent?
Many estate agents have in-house solicitors or recommended solicitors. With in-house solicitors you may feel it’s a conflict of interest, and most recommended solicitors will add their referral fee to your bill.
But that’s not to say you should always discount them immediately – take a look at some reviews and ask for a complete quote with a fee breakdown. Make your own decision based on the experience of others and fees charged as to whether it’s the best choice for yourselves.
Can I do the conveyancing myself?
Of course – but it’s a complicated process, and a lot can go wrong if you don’t have the right experience or know-how. That being said, if you’re a solicitor or have great legal knowledge, there’s nothing stopping you doing your own conveyancing.
Are there different kinds of conveyancer?
For the purpose of this article, we refer to a conveyancer as a solicitor – but licensed conveyancers can also do the job. However, they’re only qualified to practise property law.
What if I have an issue with a conveyancer?
If you have a problem with your conveyancer, the first port of call is to complain directly to the company. Ask about their complaints procedure and follow the steps – but also prepare to escalate your claim to the Legal Ombudsman or the Solicitors Regulation Authority. To do this, you’ll need to have the following to hand:
- The name of the person carrying out your conveyancing
- The name of the company they work for
- The date the work was set to be carried out
- Any written communications you’ve had with the conveyancer or their company
- A detailed account of the problem
Are there any conveyancers that should be avoided?
There’s been an increase in bogus conveyancers and conveyancing scams in recent years, so if you see a deal that’s too good to be true, it probably is. Where possible, always confirm bank details in person, check for reviews of the company, confirm information both through email and via phone call, and sign up to the free HM Land Registry Property Alert Service.