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Conveyancing Fees

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 13 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Conveyancing Fees Costs Buyers Seller

The main reason that many people give for choosing to do their own conveyancing is to save on conveyancing fees. These fees can vary significantly depending on the type of conveyancer chosen, the type of property involved and the ease of the transaction.

Legal Fees for Conveyancing

Conveyancing solicitors may charge a fee based on a percentage of the property’s value. A purchaser who has an existing home to sell will generally have to pay fees both as a seller and as a purchaser. An average fee for a conveyancing solicitor is likely to be at least £400. This will exclude the additional costs incurred by the solicitor during the conveyancing process. A licensed conveyancer may charge less than a solicitor but the additional expenses they incur during the process may mean that the final price payable is higher than the original quote.

The level of conveyancing fees may also be determined by the complexity of the transaction – with leasehold conveyancing fees often costing more than a straightforward freehold conveyance.

Online Conveyancing Fees

A quick search on the internet for “conveyancing fees” will bring up a host of companies quoting as little as £90 for conveyancing. Such a low quote can seem extremely attractive when trying to save on the costs of a house sale or purchase. However, caution should be exercised. As tempting as it may sound, there may be a good reason why the fee is so low. The company may be taking on more clients than they can efficiently deal with resulting in a much slower and less reliable conveyancing process. There may also be additional costs which are not included in the up-front quote.

Other Fees and Charges Payable During the Conveyancing Process

As well as charging for their own time and expertise, a conveyancer will also usually add various additional charges – or disbursements – to the bill. These will include the cost of the searches which must be obtained as part of the conveyancing process as well as the fees charged by the Land Registry when ownership of a property changes hands. Examples of the Land Registry fees may be obtained from the Land Registry’s website.

Most purchasers will also be liable to pay Stamp Duty which is calculated as a percentage of the full purchase price of the property.

Buyers who are using a mortgage to fund the purchase may also have to pay an arrangement or broker’s fee to secure the mortgage. An additional charge may be payable if a mortgage has a high loan to value rating – where there is little or no equity left in the property after the mortgage. Prior to the global financial downturn and the tightening of lending criteria, these costs were often added on to the end of the mortgage meaning that borrowers did not have to pay them at the outset. However, in the current economic climate increasing numbers of lenders are requiring these fees to be paid as a pre-condition of providing a mortgage.

The cost of a valuation and / or building survey may also have to be factored in to the overall cost of the conveyancing process. A valuation survey will be requested by any lender before they advance a mortgage on a property. A more detailed buildings survey may not be required by the lender but could be an expense worth bearing. It always makes sense to ensure that a property is sound before making the substantial financial commitment which a purchase usually entails.

Agreeing Upfront What is Included in the Conveyancing Fees

Some conveyancers may charge a single conveyancing fee which already includes all the expenses or disbursements that are likely to be involved in the process. If a buyer or seller decides to use a professional conveyancer they should make sure that they know, from the outset, precisely what is, or is not, included in the fees that they have been quoted. If these additional disbursements are not included in the figure, a conveyancer should be able to provide a rough estimate of how much these extra costs will be.

Even if a fixed fee is quoted it is likely that the contract signed with the conveyancer will include a clause which allows them to charge more if the transaction includes unforeseen complications. Further, a conveyancer who offers a “no completion, no fee” deal may still be entitled to recover these extra costs if the sale does not complete.

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