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'No sale no fee' conveyancing: Everything you need to know
Conveyancing help and guides
21 April 2021

'No sale no fee' conveyancing: Everything you need to know

Rosie Hamilton
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. What is 'no sale no fee' conveyancing?
  2. 2. What third party costs could you have to pay?
  3. 3. Do all conveyancers offer a 'no sale no fee' option?
  4. 4. Is 'no sale no fee' conveyancing more expensive?
  5. 5. Pros and cons of 'no sale no fee' conveyancing
  6. 6. Are there any ways to prevent your property transaction from falling through?

What is 'no sale no fee' conveyancing?

'No sale no fee' is a product option offered by some conveyancing firms. The idea is like that of other 'no win no fee' legal services, where you only pay if you win a legal case. With 'no sale no fee' conveyancing you only pay once your property sale or purchase is successful.

Conveyancing costs can be quite expensive - around £600 - £2000. So, a 'no sale no fee' guarantee gives buyers and sellers some financial security, in case their transaction fails.

The reality is slightly more complicated. Property sales often involve third party fees that a law firm can't control, like searches & surveys. If the sale falls through, you'll usually still have to pay these third party charges - even if you have a 'no sale no fee' guarantee.

So while you won't need to pay for the work your lawyer has done if your transaction doesn't complete, there will still be some fees to pay.

Important: a 'no sale no fee' conveyancer is not the same as a 'fixed fee' conveyancer. Make sure you agree upfront with the conveyancer how much they will charge. Check your conveyancing quote includes the costs of any disbursements and third party fees, as well as the standard legal fee, so you aren't hit by any surprisingly large bills when it comes to completion.

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What third party costs could you have to pay?

If you decide to work with a no sale no fee conveyancer you'll usually have to pay a small amount upfront as a deposit for any legal work, and to cover third party costs. If your sale or purchase falls through you won't get this money back.

If you're a buyer and your purchase falls through you may have to pay the following:

  • Conveyancing solicitor deposit

Some conveyancing firms will ask you to pay a small deposit if you choose their 'no move no fee' option. This is to compensate for any legal work that may go unpaid if your transaction fails. You should expect this to be a small percentage of the total fee - around £150.

  • ID & finance checks

ID checks are part of the basic checks that go into the conveyancing process. Often conveyancing solicitors will use a third party identification verification service to confirm your identity. These will normally charge a small fee.

  • Surveys

Surveys are an in-depth look at a property's condition. Most people get one of these before they buy to make sure there aren't any expensive-to-fix structural issues, or long term problems that could impact the value or safety of the property. For more information on surveys, head here.

  • Searches

Searches are enquiries made to various authorities (such as the local council). The results of these searches will give you information about the property, the land its on, and anything that might affect the property - such as planned infrastructure works. The results will highlight any problems with the property that might impact whether you want to go ahead with the sale or not. To apply for each of these searches your conveyancer will have to pay a non-refundable fee. If your purchase falls through, you won't be able to claim this money back.

If you're selling your home and the transaction falls through you may have to pay the following:

  • Conveyancing firm deposit

Some conveyancing firms will ask you to pay a small deposit if you choose the 'no move no fee' option. This is to compensate for any legal work that may go unpaid if your transaction fails. You should expect this to be a small percentage of the total fee - around £150.

  • ID checks

ID checks are one of the basic elements carried out by conveyancers. Often conveyancing solicitors will use a third party identification verification service to confirm your identity. These will normally charge a small fee.

  • Land Registry Fees

The Land Registry charges a fee for obtaining copies of your property title, which you'll need for the pre-contract stage of the sale.

  • Leasehold Information Pack

If your property is a leasehold, your conveyancer will have to obtain a leasehold information pack from your freeholder. Your freeholder will usually charge a fee to arrange this. You can read more about Leasehold Information Packs here.

In some cases, you'll be able to transfer these checks and documents to another sale, if your transaction doesn't go through the first time.

Read more about how much conveyancing should cost here.

Do all conveyancers offer a 'no sale no fee' option?

While 'no sale no fee' options used to be the reserve of online conveyancers, many traditional and independent firms have decided to offer this option now too, in order to remain competitive. You're therefore likely to have plenty of choice when it comes to selecting a conveyancer if you're specifically looking for a 'no sale no fee' option.

Note: 'No sale, no fee' options might also be called: 'no move, no fee' or 'no completion, no fee'.

If you decide you would prefer to work with a solicitor rather than a conveyancer, you may find it more difficult to find a 'no sale no fee' option. Solicitors tend to work with more traditional fee structures - though you may find the occasional exception.

Is 'no sale no fee' conveyancing more expensive?

Many conveyancers in the UK offer a 'no sale no fee' option, and while generally prices are in line with the average rate for conveyancing, you may find that if a firm offers both a 'no sale no fee', and a 'traditional' option, the 'no sale no fee' option will be slightly more expensive. This is to compensate for the extra risk that the firm is taking on by doing work that could result in no payment.

When you're considering firms, weigh up whether the added protection of the 'no completion no fee' option is worth the extra money, or whether you're happy with the risk. This will depend in part on the type of property you're buying, or who you're selling the property to. For example, the success of a transaction may depend more upon the outcome of a survey if you're interested in buying an old listed property, than if you're purchasing a new build. Or you might find you're not too worried about the risk of a transaction falling through if both parties are chain free.

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Pros and cons of 'no sale no fee' conveyancing

Pros

While not for everyone, there are a number of reasons why people choose a no sale no fee conveyancing option.

  • Reduces the risk of financial loss if the transaction falls through

According to research by the HomeOwners Alliance almost 300,000 property transactions a year fail in the UK. This can be for a wide variety of reasons: inability to get finance in place, a break in the chain, or something unexpected comes up in the survey.

Using a no sale no fee conveyancer means you won't have to pay the full legal fee if your transaction fails, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds.

  • Offered by both online and local conveyancers

If you're keen to have the no sale no fee guarantee, you'll still have a wide choice of firms to pick from.

  • Potentially motivating for the conveyancer

Some people believe that because the conveyancer is not paid until the transaction is complete, they are more motivated to ensure all the legal work is done efficiently.

Cons

On the other hand, some people prefer a more traditional approach to the conveyancing approach. They choose not to work with a no sale no fee conveyancer because they're:

  • Potentially more expensive

In some cases, conveyancing solicitors charge more for their 'no sale no fee' option. This is to compensate for the risk that comes with taking on legal work they may not end up getting paid for.

  • Not as commonly available from solicitors

While 'no sale no fee' is fairly common among conveyancing firms it is less commonly offered by solicitors. If you need to use a solicitor for your home sale (perhaps you're selling as part of a larger legal situation such as a divorce), you may find the best option does not offer a 'no sale no fee' guarantee.

  • Potentially demoralising for the conveyancer

While some people think that payment on completion is motivating for a conveyancer, some believe that the possibility of no payment can be demoralising, or even encourage poor quality work. Make sure to check reviews carefully before you decide who to work with. Read more about how to find a good conveyancer here.

Are there any ways to prevent your property transaction from falling through?

While no option is foolproof, if you're worried about your property transaction falling through, there are some ways you can mitigate the risk. Consider:

  • Requesting a deposit at the offer stage

A deposit at the offer stage can reduce the risk of gazumping or gazundering, and reduces the risk of either party changing their mind about continuing with the transaction.

  • Strengthening your own position as much as possible

Making sure you're in the best position possible will reduce the risk of anything going wrong at your end. For example, ensuring you have a mortgage in principle before putting in an offer can reduce the risk of having to pull out because of lack of finance later on.

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