Conveyancing fees vary, but you’re looking at somewhere in the region of £850–£2,000 plus VAT (though they can be a lot higher, depending on the property). Let’s break down the costs.
Conveyancing fees are an important cost to factor into your home buying budget. Essentially, it’s the amount of money you need to pay your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal transfer of the property from the previous owner to you. It’s this transfer that’s known as “conveyancing”.
Note: A conveyancing solicitor is a lawyer who specialises in property law, while a licensed conveyancer is a professional who is only trained in conveyancing.
What are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees cover all the legal costs involved in buying a property. They fall into two categories: legal fees and disbursements.
- Legal fees: These cover the actual work that your solicitor or conveyancer does to oil the cogs of the home buying process, such as: drawing up contracts, providing legal advice, negotiating with the seller’s solicitor, and transferring the funds for the purchase at the right time.
- Disbursements: These are payments your conveyancer makes to third parties on your behalf. They cover things like ID checks, property searches, and bank transfer fees. We talk about these in more detail below.
Whether it’s fees or disbursements, there are various factors that’ll impact the amount you’ll have to pay for conveyancing – including the kind of property you want to buy and its location.
How much are typical conveyancing fees?
You might expect to pay between £850 and £2,000 (plus VAT) for legal fees, covering your solicitor or conveyancer’s time and expertise. This is on the lower end of the scale though – it also depends on the property value, and could even hit £5,000 or more.
That cost doesn’t include the disbursements – the extra charges from third parties.
That’s why, when you get a quote for conveyancing, it’s crucial to get a detailed breakdown of all the ‘foreseeable’ disbursements you may have to pay. (Some disbursements you can’t predict as they’re set by third parties, and are specific to the property you’re buying, so would be impossible to get a quote for).
Here are six common disbursements and their costs:
- Bankruptcy search: £4. To check whether you or anyone named on the mortgage has been declared bankrupt.
- ID checks: £6–£20. To verify your identity to help prevent money laundering. This might cost more if you’re a foreign national or you’re living abroad.
- Bank transfer fee: £20–£30. To cover the cost of a telegraphic transfer, used to move the money involved in the sale between bank accounts.
- Property searches: £125–£600. To check with different bodies, like the local authorities and environment agency, for any issues with the property or the land it’s built on. For example, the checks would uncover if the property was a listed building or at risk of flooding. These costs depend on your local authority.
- Land Registry fees: up to £1,105 (depending on property value). To pay for the property to be registered under your name in the Land Registry.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax: 0%–12% of the property value. Stamp duty (called Land Transaction Tax in Wales and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland) is a tax you need to pay when buying a property over a certain value. And the greater the value, the more you have to pay. The rate of stamp duty also depends on your circumstances. For example, if you already own another property you have to pay a higher rate.
More complicated property transactions will take your solicitor or conveyancer more time to sort out. In that case you’ll often be charged some extra fees to cover this. Here are some examples:
- Help to Buy supplement: £200–£300. This covers the additional legal work involved when you buy through the Help to Buy scheme.
- Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA fee: £60. A fee to pay for the extra work your conveyancer will need to do to redeem your Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA bonus.
How much are conveyancing fees when you buy a leasehold property?
Buying a leasehold property means you’re buying the property but not the land it’s built on. You have a lease (a contract with the freeholder – the landlord) that lasts for a certain length of time. This can be anything from a few years to a few centuries. Many flats are sold as leasehold properties, but some new-build houses are too.
In contrast, when you buy a freehold property, you own the property and the land. Everything.
So, what’s the difference in conveyancing fees when a leasehold property is involved? Basically, your conveyancer needs to charge a supplement (an extra cost) to cover the added complications of a lease to read and a landlord to chase. This could be an additional £200, plus disbursements (charges from third parties) unique to leasehold properties.
Here’s a breakdown of the additional work involved:
- Checking the lease. Your conveyancer should carefully read the lease (this is a lengthy and complicated document) and summarise your main rights and obligations as the leaseholder. They should make you aware of factors such as: whether you have to pay ground rent, what service charges there are to maintain the building, and what renovations you’re allowed to make.
- Dealing with the landlord. In addition to your seller’s solicitor, your conveyancer now also has to communicate with the landlord. That can be an individual freeholder or a management company representing a group of leaseholders who share the freehold (this is the case in some blocks of flats, for example). This means extra time spent on emails and phone calls. It can slow down the whole conveyancing process.
- Sending a Notice of Assignment to the landlord, telling them that you’re the new leaseholder. A management company might charge for this – sometimes up to £300 or more – or it may be free.
- Sending a Notice of Charge to the landlord, telling them that your mortgage lender has an interest in your property. This can sometimes be free, or there can be a charge of £50–£200 or more for this.
What are the legal fees when you remortgage your home?
If you remortgage your home with your existing lender, you usually don’t need to hire a conveyancer. You’ll simply be moved to a new mortgage deal, which doesn’t involve any extra legal work. This does depend on your lender though.
But if you remortgage with a new lender, there is some legal work that needs to be done – so you will need a conveyancer. Some mortgage lenders include conveyancing for free as part of their remortgage package, but be aware – the conveyancing service included in these kinds of deals won’t always be the fastest or smoothest out there, and that’s putting it lightly.
Legal fees may be lower for remortgaging – between £300 and £1,000. But you might have to pay some of the same disbursements (charges) as when you first bought your home. For example, your new mortgage lender may want you to carry out property searches to make sure your property is a safe investment for them.
When do you pay conveyancing fees?
You might be asked to pay your conveyancer a fixed amount on account at the start, usually around £500. But you usually won’t be asked to pay the full amount until you’ve exchanged contracts and fixed your completion date (when the sale is finalised).
What happens if the sale falls through?
Many conveyancers offer a “no sale, no fee” guarantee. That means if your sale falls through during the buying process, you won’t have to pay the legal fees for your conveyancer’s work up until that point.
But what you will probably still need to pay for are the costs of any disbursements that your conveyancer has already paid on your behalf (for the ID checks, property searches, and so on).
Some conveyancers might be willing to waive these costs if you buy a different property but continue to use them for your legal work. It’s worth asking about this before you instruct your conveyancer.
Can you cut conveyancing costs?
Let’s look at some ways to keep the costs of conveyancing manageable:
- Compare conveyancing quotes online before you hire someone. Only consider quotes where the disbursements are listed clearly. If you only see one ultra-cheap figure, chances are it comes with hidden costs. Make sure you ask if there are any additional fees when comparing.
- Don’t just pick the cheapest quote. Even if it doesn’t have hidden costs, it’s likely you won’t be getting reliable, personalised service. And if your conveyancing solicitor doesn’t pick up on an issue with the property at this stage, the cost to you could be much greater further down the line.
- Give your conveyancer as much information as you can about yourself and the property you want to buy. This will help them give you an accurate quote.
- Ask for a quote for your ‘foreseeable disbursements’. These are third party costs that your solicitor pays on your behalf (that you pay them back for). Not all disbursements are predictable, but knowing as much as you can about what costs are ahead can help you plan more easily.
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