Conveyancing fees

Conveyancing has got every more complicated over the last few years with firms trying every trick in the book to avoid you being able to compare conveyancing quotes easily and see what your getting. The process should be about giving you as a consumer value for money, sadly for some that isn’t what this is about.

This information will stop paying more for the fees in conveyancing when you don’t have to.

The truth about fees

There are two key things when trying to see what your conveyancing will cost

  • The “fee”

In essence this is the solicitors time and expertise. It’s the amount of money they want to work on your case and most firms will give you a run down in the articles of engagement of what you can expect to be included in this.

One of the biggest problems that you face when finding a conveyancing solicitor is that the fee doesn’t always reflect the quality. That means that if the fee is sky high it doesn’t necessarily follow that the conveyancer is any good.  Similarly, anyone who advertises a “fee” of £199 or similar is straight up lying to you.

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You wouldn’t hire a lawyer for any other part of your life based mainly on cost. Imagine being sued and your lawyer telling you he will defend you for £199
  • Disbursements

Disbursements is the legal jargon for data about your house. It’s the job of the solicitor to order a pack from a legal provider and scour through the drainage, water, environmental, coal and personal search data to see if there anything that you need to know. All the different disbursements are listed below.

The cost of each disbursement should be roughly the same from one conveyancing quote to the next…

They are after all; fixed charges and I’ll list them all (along with what they should cost) a little later on.

During the course of the transaction, unavoidable additional disbursements may have to be purchased. Your conveyancer should tell you about any such costs as soon as they come to light and I will explain what they are below but first you need to know the difference between search packs. There are two types of searches

  • Official searches – These are searches that are bought from the actual council or body responsible for the criteria they are checking for (think water board for water searches) They are given quite a grand title of “official” searches as they are bought from the issuer
  • Personal searches – In 2012 the government realised that they had created a monopoly and search data was fast becoming a cash cow for some local councils whose costings doubled in a 5-year period. The government decided to open the data records so that private companies could take a copy and sell it in the same way to create a market. These are known as personal searches. The same information, coming from a company who has taken the data from the council themselves. Some conveyancers like using official, some use personal
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Make sure you’re not paying official searches prices for personal search results. Although it’s the same data personal searches are around 40% cheaper

Selling: What’s everything I need to sell?

Selling is fairly straightforward. Because there are no disbursements save the bits you can’t avoid there aren’t many lines on the quote and because Simplermove only give complete quotes (everything you need to move) you quote will look like this –

Selling conveyancing breakdown
A breakdown of the conveyancing costs for selling your House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If there is anything missing from here on other quotes you will be charged for it. Make sure you get in touch with them to see what they will charge. There is set rates for extras and this is usually where cheaper “£199 fee” lawyers will add hundreds of pounds.

What do these all these disbursements mean?

Conveyancer’s Basic Fee / Cost £350 – £1,800 +VAT

This is what the conveyancer is charging to carry out the case, the work involved and all the paperwork. It can be anything from £350 to £1800 and we have seen quotes as high as £6000. This is because most conveyancers work on what called “fee scaling”.

This means they charge more dependant on the value of the property. We work with fee scaling for all our conveyancers as its reasonable as long as its properly managed. We cap the amount the scale is allowed to rise. This is because if the scale is saying 10 times more for a £1 million house than a £100,000 there is 10 times more work to do. Its only the solicitors PI insurance that changes. We work to make sure that all our member conveyancers work within reasonable scaling.

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Avoid conveyancers that want to charge you on a per hourly basis. The conveyancing process is, in the main, quite straightforward. It’s the same things done time after time. If your conveyancer can’t give you a reasonable indication as to how long it takes and what the costs are for that then walk away. Fixed cost gives you peace of mind.

ID Check Cost £6 – £20 +VAT

  • This is you conveyancer checking you are who you say you are and you’re not trying to hide money in the UK illegally. This also establishes that you match up with the title deed
  • Costs vary as there as there are many suppliers such as Post Office or Equifax so it depends on who your lawyer has chosen. The fees are fairly negligible and almost all conveyancers do this online now to save you a trip to the office. You will match up your passport number/birth certificate/driving license on a secure government gateway and get a clearance number you can pass onto your lawyer.

Bank TT Fees / Cost £20 – £50 +VAT

  • This stands for Telegraphic Transfer fees. They are charged by banks and building societies when you send an amount of money larger than £60,000. We don’t charge fees on property transactions lower than £60,000
  • Below £60,000, your money can be sent for no charge via the Bank Automated Clearing System (BACS).
  • Be aware that if you have a mortgage to redeem then another TT fee will need to be paid.

Land Registry Office / Official Copies £6 – £24 no VAT

  • When your conveyancer prepares the ‘pre contract pack’ to send to the buyer’s conveyancer at the start of the transaction, they must include up to date official copies of the freehold Title Register and filed Title Plan held at HM Land Registry.
  • Your conveyancer will prepare something called a “Pre-Contract pack” at the start of the conveyancing process. It will include the up to date copy of the freehold and the filed title plan. This is known as the “Office Copy Entries”
  • The documents prove the seller owns the property. They will also include any legal charges such as a secured loan or mortgage that are registered against the title of the property.

Other potential extra costs & disbursements

Mortgaged Property Supplement Fee / Cost £40 – £90 +VAT

  • If your property is mortgaged your conveyancer will have extra work to do as they will need to liaise with the mortgagor or/or lender. Most of Simplermove’s conveyancers charge for this and there is a slider button available to indicate if you need to redeem a mortgage.
  • Make sure that if you get a quote without you ask how much this will be. Leaving this to the end of the process could be a shock at the end.

Unregistered Property/Land Supplement Fee (£100 – £200) +VAT

  • HM Land registry is the repository of all housing deeds for the UK. Sometimes, for example, a new build property will need to be registered legally with LR before the process can take place.
  • If you have the deeds and its simply the case the LR have never registered the property a fee will still be payable as it’s the Land Registry who charge this, not your conveyancer.
  • You can check with the LR online to see if your house is registered at the Land registry website.

Leasehold Property Supplement Fee/ Cost £0 – £200+ VAT

  • Leasehold means that you don’t own the ground on which your house/flat stands. Your conveyancer will need to do extra work to speak to freeholder (whoever owns the land) and check through the legalities of selling your home.
  • Some of Simplermove’s partner firms don’t charge for this work to be carried out and are leasehold specialists. Use the Leasehold/freehold slider to see how the pricing changes.

Official Copies of Title & Lease / Cost £6 – £10 no VAT

  • Official copies of both the leasehold and freehold title must be produced and supplied to the other party’s conveyancer.

Managing Agents Pack/Leasehold management pack / Cost £150 – £300+VAT

  • The leaseholder will have a managing agent, someone who looks after the day to day running of the lease. The buyer’s conveyancer will expect a managing agents pack to be prepared.
  • This pack contains information about the property, including service charges, ground rent, major works, company accounts information, etc.
  • The pack will give the conveyancer details about the service charges, ground rents, whether major works are to be carried out, accounts information, how much you are expected to pay yearly and other details.
  • Its not often that you will be quoted for this upfront as you conveyancer will have no indication on how much the managing agent will charge to prepare this.

Indemnity Policies/ Cost (£20 – £300) +VAT

  • Depending on search results and enquires, the buyer may require the seller to purchase an insurance policy to protect them from future liability – e.g. covenant consent hasn’t been sought for the erection of (or alteration to) an out building or there are missing professional installation certificates etc.
  • Once their conveyancer has been through all the details the buyer’s conveyancer may ask you to buy indemnity policies. These are for situations such as an extension that has been built but you can’t prove the warranty, or there are no professional installation certificates.
  • These will be prices individually dependant on what the cost of a potential claim may be.
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Remember that you are still in negotiation. If the buyer is asking for you to indemnify everything in the house you can always say no.

 Buying – What’s included in conveyancing, what to look out for

When you get a quote for buying a house there are some changes from selling. Your quote will look like this

The conveyancing costs of moving house
Here is what your quote for moving house will like

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Search Pack’ is ordered by your solicitor. Be aware that there are two types of search pack. Firstly, personal searches are searches that are ordered from a third-party data company. They are the most common searches ordered as they are more reasonably priced and, in effect, the same data. Personal searches are around £140-£190

The second is rather grandly called “Official searches”. All this means is that they have been bought from the council themselves, they are usually around double the price and can be slower to order. These cost around £190-£300

Your conveyancer should have access to both. Either should contain the minimum of –

  • Local Authority search– This checks all the information that is held by the local authority. Items such as local land charges, the register for conservation areas, listed building designations, tree preservation orders, improvement or renovation grants, smoke control zones, future developments, nearby road schemes and motorways, building control history, planning control history, contaminated land and radon gas. When this comes back to your conveyancer, they will prepare you a report which will tell you of any concerns they may have.
  • Drainage & Water search– This is carried out to check the locations of drains and sewers, how water drains and if the property is connected to the mains water supply. Again, if everything is in order your conveyancer will deal with this for you
  • Environmental search– this primarily investigate the risk of land contamination. As above, you will only be made aware if there is something you need to know about.

This is dependant area to area. These three are the main three but if you live in, say, the Dales, where there has been a great deal of mining, they may ask you to buy a mining search as well. These usually cost between £25-£50

If your house was historically built on church lands you may be asked to purchase a chancel search. This indicates if the church still retains any title of your land. These can be around £15-£50.

 

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Make sure you compare like for like. Many firms charge official prices and use personal searches. Ask your conveyancer which they are using.

 

Standard costs & disbursements

Conveyancer’s Basic Fee (£400 – £1,500) + VAT

This is what the conveyancer is charging to carry out the case, the work involved and all the paperwork. It can be anything from £350 to £1800 and we have seen quotes as high as £6000. This is because most conveyancers work on what called “fee scaling”.

This means they charge more dependent on the value of the property. We work with fee scaling for all our conveyancers as its reasonable as long as its properly managed. We cap the amount the scale is allowed to rise. This is because if the scale is, say, 10 times more for a £1 million house than a £100,000 there is 10 times more work to do. It’s only the solicitors PI insurance that changes. We work to make sure that all our member conveyancers work within reasonable scaling.

 

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Avoid conveyancers that want to chare you on a per hourly basis. The conveyancing process is, in the main, quite straightforward. It’s the same things done time after time. If your conveyancer can’t give you a reasonable indication as to how long it takes and what the costs are for that then walk away. Fixed cost gives you peace of mind.

 

Bank TT Fees (£20 – £50) +VAT

  • Telegraphic Transfer fees, again, are charged when the amount of money being transferred is above £60,000.

ID Check (£6 – £25) +VAT

  • Part of the conveyancer’s duties to meet anti money laundering is to check your identity
  • There is a number of companies who perform this service hence the light difference to cost.
  • All of these should be done online.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (fixed rates) no VAT

  • This is the amount of money that the government charge you as a tax for buying your home. It is unavoidable and is pre calculated based on the purchase price.
  • Land and property in Scotland are subject to Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (LBTT) instead.
  • SDLT works like income tax in that you pay the required rates on the amounts which fall into each band.

Filling out the Stamp Duty Tax Return (£20-£50) +VAT

  • This is now quite a long for since it was changed in 2003 from one to seven pages. It is included in all of the quotes given by Simplermove

Bankruptcy and pre-completion searches (£2-£30) no VAT

  • These searches are made after exchange of contracts to make sure nothing has changed with regard to the property or your ability to purchase the property.

Land Registry Fees (£20-£455) no VAT

  • The Land registry holds all the information on your title deeds and ownership of land in the UK. Your conveyancer will need to update this register
  • The cost of this depends on the price of the property.

Extra reasonable costs

With so many options it’s hard to compare like for like as everyone charges differently. We created when an easy to use slider for Simplermove.com ‘s conveyancing calculator. Selecting the options, you need will change your pricing instantly so you can see which the best deal for you is.

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Choose the options that you need to customise your move and get a full and complete price.

 

 

 

 

Mortgaged required/ Cost £100 – £200 +VAT

  • When you buy with a mortgage your conveyancer has extra work to do to liaise with the mortgage provider. Some Simplermove.com firms charge extra for this, some don’t.
  • All this extra work should be reflected in the quote as an increase to their basic fee or as a standalone supplement fee.

Leasehold – Freehold / Cost £100 – £150 + VAT

  • Freehold means you buy the land as well as the buildings that stand on the land. Leasehold is when you buy the building and don’t own the land underneath.
  • There is extra work for the conveyancer to liaise with leaseholder so they will charge extra for this.

Help-to-Buy ISA / Cost £200 – £350 + VAT

  • If you are taking out an equity loan there will be more work for your conveyancer.
  • Many online quotes have the facility for you to flag this and have it itemised as an additional disbursement or added to the conveyancer’s basic fee.

Lawyer Checker (£10-£15) +VAT

  • If the conveyancer acting for the seller is unknown to your conveyancer, they will complete a lawyer checker search to confirm details of the conveyancer and prevent the risk of fraud.
  • Not all conveyancers do this as standard so check as the risk of fraud is real (and growing).

 

So, what is the total cost of conveyancing?

Selling

Unlike everything else in life where you get what you pay for conveyancing might be a bit different. This is because middle men can add hundreds of pounds to your quote, especially if you buy from an estate agent.

There are specifics that have to adhere to given by NSEAT, which is the national trading standards agency for estate agents. When you take a referral fee you must reveal to you client;

1)  The price of its services, including any “compulsory” extras; and 

2)  Where a referral arrangement exists, that it exists, and with whom; and 

3)  Where a transaction-specific referral fee is to be paid, its amount; and 

4)  Where a referral retainer exists, an estimate of the annual value of that retainer to the estate agent or its value per transaction; and 

5)  Where the referral is rewarded other than by payment, an assessment of the annual value of the reward or the value of the reward per transaction.

The problem is that it is up to you as the consumer to go and find where they have put it in the contract

 

  • Look at the small print of the contract, if there is referral fee to pay it has to in here.
  • Referral fees aren’t a bad thing necessarily, they substitute the need for marketing for most conveyancers and if they are manageable, they don’t actually cost you anymore in service or cost. Our referral fee is £80 for example. This is to deliver a constant stream of work to our panel and we get a volume discount in return.
  • Look for phrases like “panel manager”, or “referrer” in the contract. Sentences like “Our introducer will take part of the fee paid for providing us with your detail. Here are a couple of examples

Example 1 – From the conveyancer

Conveyancer quote with added fee
You can see the amount added is between £100 and £500 . There is no reason to add £500

Example 2 – The referring panel or the estate agent

Panel referral fee of upto £500
Again, upto £500 is the amount that you can pay extra when using a panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ask you estate agent directly, on email or in writing “Do you get paid a referral fee if I take your conveyancing, how much do you get” They have to tell you.

 Buying

A number of estate agents are now trying to cash in the conveyancer referral with both sides of the chain. This means that they will tell you things like

  • You must use their conveyancer/mortgage services to be considered for the property
  • It will speed things up if you use their conveyancer as they know them
  • You have a better chance of getting your offer accepted if you use the estate agent’s choice of conveyancer/mortgage provider.

All of these are completely untrue. The estate agent acts for the seller of the property and as such they are compelled under the estate agency act of 1979 to do the best they can for the seller. That is to say that if they refused to deal with you and you where the highest bidder, they are effectively breaking the law. What do your estate agent is telling you that you must use a service

  • If your selling the reality is that your contract tells you what you can and cannot do. For example, if you defer your Purplebricks upfront fee then you must take their conveyancing. They get a referral of £360 from the conveyancer and if you decide not to use them, you must an extra fee …of £360. Read the small print and work out what is best for you. Even without the extra fee Purple bricks’ conveyancing is traditionally expensive.
  • If you are buying you can refuse to pay any extra fees. Tell the estate agent that it is your choice where you get your service providers from.
  • The estate agent can refuse to pass on your offer or even tell you that you’re not is not accepted. If you feel that they not being honest, try knocking on the door of the property. Have a word with the owners, push a letter through the door.
  • You can always complain to the NSEAT, they are the trading standards team responsible for estate agency in the UK

What gets paid when?

Your conveyancer will open what they refer to as a file when you instruct them on your property. Once they have done this, they will out everything related to your case in here. The first part of the process for both buying and selling is to order your disbursements.

Selling – How much do you pay upfront?

  • These are small disbursements and should add up to less than £50 as long as you’re not doing leasehold, mortgage required ETC
  • Add up what the discernments come to for your file
  • If your conveyancer is asking for a lot more than the sum of the dispersements, ask them why. If they say its to “get your case started” that’s not a very good answer. Only pay upfront what you need to. If anything happens in your chain this means that you only spend this and aren’t fighting to get the rest back.

Buying – How much do you pay upfront?

  • You need to purchase your search pack. The price of your search pack is clearly displayed against the conveyancer’s price and will be in the email that you get sent from Simplermove.
  • Any other searches dependant on what is required due to locality (coal search, chancel ETC) will be discussed with you.
  • Only pay upfront what the disbursements come to. Any more and you have money to try to claim back should your chain break.

When do I pay?

The conveyancer will take their money out of the transferred funds that get sent across from the bank during the transaction. If you buying you send the funds, solicitor takes his fee and sends the remainders to the Land registry (for stamp duty) and the seller gets the rest.

The Completion statements

  • This is your bill in effect, it’s the total bill broken down and laid in front of you to see.
  • It will include anything you’ve paid for the Land registry, stamp duty, other parties, disbursements and everything else involved.
  • A draft statement will be sent to you once you have put your monies available to your solicitor should you be paying with a mortgage. Otherwise it will a request to transfer cash should this be what you are using to purchase.
  • A further second draft is sent between exchange and completion and a final is sent on completion.
  • Everything in the completion statement has to be paid and cleared with the bank before the completion deadline in order for a purchase to go through.
  • Your conveyancer will send a document detailing down what you have paid for during the conveyancing process. Everything needs to be paid before the transfer of the house will go through.

How to spot bad conveyancing, the practices that go on in the industry.

As a home mover its difficult for you to spot what is involved in the home moving process and what happens along the way. There is a good dollop of legal jargon and plenty of areas to hide fees and extra charges. When you use Simplermove.com we work with fixed fee agents. We ask them for everything upfront involved with a normal conveyance so they cannot hide the extras.

SimplerTip – Watch out for firms who quote extremely low and when questioned can’t give you any figures for what it will cost in the long run. This is what they do for a living and an average conveyance is quite an easy thing to quote for. If your circumstances are not what you would consider normal, get a quote upfront.

If you are unsure of what you are actually paying for give one of our move specialists a call on 0800 975 0334 and we will break it down for you to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Summary

You can read more of our guides to conveyancing solicitors or if you want to get a quote , give us a call or enter your postcode in the box at the top left to get started, things to remember –

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1. Make sure you call your conveyancer two or three times before instructing them, can you get through .How long does it take ?

2. If someone tells you their fee for conveyancing is £199 they are probably being dishonest

3. Always make sure that you read the contract , does it contain your Simplermove’s quote contains, if not you will need get a cost and add it to your quote to compare like for like

4. Avoid paying huge fees to estate agents,mortgage brokers or other middle men. Check what it says in the contract , ask the direct over email

5. Look at Simplermoves averages to complete, don’t just pick on price, make sure you get the right conveyancing solicitor for you.