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Conveyancing is the process by which ownership of a property is passed from one person to another. It begins when the buyer submits an offer to the seller. Both the buyer and seller have to appoint someone to be their legal representative during the process, and both parties will need to pay fees.
Who pays the largest conveyancing fees: the buyer or seller?
Generally the buyer will pay a larger proportion of legal fees, because their conveyancer has to do more work. For example, they will need to arrange surveys, undertake fraud checks, and liaise with mortgage providers.
The difference usually amounts to the buyer paying around £250-£1,000 more (not including their Stamp Duty Land Tax). But, the amount will vary depending on several things, including: how many surveys are done, and which conveyancer each party uses.
For more detail on what a conveyancer does, read: ‘Why do I need a Conveyancer?’
How much does a conveyancer charge?
The cost of conveyancing can vary depending on the location and type of your property, and whether you choose to use a solicitor or a conveyancer. **You should expect a quote to be in the range of £500 - £1,500 plus disbursements. **
Legal fees for leasehold properties are likely to be about £50-£250 more. This reflects the extra work required, including: investigations into the length of the lease, the service charge, or management details. You may also need to pay for a Deed of Covenant - an agreement between the buyer and landlord about things such as carrying out repair work.
Similarly, transactions involving a mortgage will also cost more, because your conveyancer will have to work with your mortgage lender too. If you’re taking out a mortgage to buy the property you should expect your legal fees to increase by about £50-£250.
Disbursements are fees that your lawyer pays on your behalf during the conveyancing process. These costs are all fixed standard charges. Expect to see the following fees on your quote:
|Anti-Money Laundering Checks|
|This is a check to verify your identity.||£6-£20|
|Land Registry Office Copies|
|These confirm you as the registered titleholder of your property.||£4-£8|
|Land Registration Fee|
|This cost will depend upon the price of the property you’re buying.||£40-£700|
|Telegraphic Transfer Fee|
|This charge will only apply if you have a mortgage with over £60,000 to redeem. You can redeem amounts less than this using BACS.||£25-£35|
|Local Authority Searches|
|The cost of these vary. Look for conveyancing quotes that ask you to provide the postcode of the property you’re buying; these are usually more accurate.||£100-£200|
|This search is to check the property has connection to fresh and foul water sewers.||£35-£50|
|Chancel Repair Liability Search|
|This is to check whether you are liable to pay a contribution to the upkeep of the local parish church.||£12|
|This search will check for evidence of contamination on and around the land you’re purchasing. If contamination is found, you might be liable for the clean-up costs.||£36-£42|
|Location Specific Local Searches|
|Depending on where the property is located, you may be required to conduct checks for coal, limestone, clay, and tin mining.||£40-£250|
|This check ensures that the lawyer you’re sending money to is a real company.||£10|
In some cases you might not be able to find essential paperwork such as guarantees or permissions. Either the buyer or seller will then need to buy an insurance policy for protection if the missing paperwork becomes an issue in the future.
When you first start looking it’s a good idea to get quotes from a selection of different firms. When you receive their estimation make sure to check that they have included everything - even disbursements. Try to avoid a solicitor that charges an hourly rate, as it’s harder to estimate the final cost.
As well as comparing their fee, take into account other things too. This will ensure you’re getting the best value for money, and not sacrificing on quality, for a cheaper price. For example, the main benefit of choosing a solicitor is their ability to deal with any complex legal issues. Because of this, solicitors are generally more expensive than conveyancers. However, if you have a more difficult case, the legal expertise offered is probably worth the small difference in price.
Look out for conveyancers who add in ‘extras’ to their quotes and bills. Added charges you should avoid include: photocopying, telephone calls, postage, completing the Stamp Duty Land Tax form, and Professional Indemnity Insurance
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or to challenge any charges you’re unsure about. Investing time into understanding conveyancing fees is worthwhile, as things like disbursements are standard across the board, and it may save you an extra charge.
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When are conveyancing fees paid?
Many conveyancers only expect their fee once the sale is complete. Some even offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ promise. This means you’ll only have to pay if your transaction successfully completes. However, this usually won’t include any disbursements or third party costs already paid for. Make sure to double check a quote if it promises ‘no sale, no fee’ to see what’s actually included.
If you’re buying, you’ll also usually have to pay a deposit upfront. This is so the conveyancer has money on account to pay for disbursements on your behalf.
If you’re unsure how to pick the best conveyancer for your needs take a read of our guide to picking a trustworthy conveyancer here.
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