Before Getting a Conveyancing Quote
One of the things that will take a fair amount of time, if done properly, is pricing exactly how much your chosen Conveyancer is going to cost. One thing you need to know is that you won't get a 'quote', what you will get is an 'estimate'. A quote implies a static figure that cannot be changed whereas an estimate is subject to variation.
What They Will Tell You About.
There are various things that will always be included in the estimate, if they aren't then there is something seriously wrong! These things include;
- The Conveyancing fees - this is how much the firm charges for the time taken to deal with your file. But beware, there may be hidden 'extras' that the firm charges to bump up their charges. I will go into these later.
- The searches - these may vary depending on the area you are buying in but will always include a local authority search and a drainage search. These are required by the mortgage lenders and by anyone prudent in their purchase. If any additional searches are listed then you are free to query why they are there, if the firm can't give you a good enough reason for them being there; then there is no reason you should pay for them!
- Telegraphic Transfer Fee - this is a very common item on the list and is basically the amount the firm's bank charges to transfer your purchase (or sale) money to its destination. The amount you are charged may not necessarily be the amount the firm pays but it is highly unlikely you will be able to get the firm to reduce it.
- VAT - you can't get away from it anywhere else and there is no way to get around it during your move!
- Registration fees and Stamp Duty - these will vary according to the price but in all purchases you will have to pay a fee to the land registry, in addition and again dependent on price, you will most likely have to pay stamp duty to the Inland Revenue. It can't be avoided, it can't be reduced and there is no way around it.
And Now for the Bits you Might Need to Dig For!
As with anything in today’s society there are always hidden extras that, like it or not, you will end up paying for because you weren't aware they were there! That is why you must always, always, always read the small print! Quite apart from anything else you could find out that the incredible deal you got for your Conveyancing is not quite as good as you thought and you could end up paying hundreds of pounds more than you anticipated!
Within that small-print you will see quite a bit of legal terminology designed to confuse the layman and give the firm carte blanche to charge additional fees at their will. The majority of firms don't actually use this without warning but it is there and you must make sure that you read it.
There will also be a section of 'additional costs' that 'may' be charged. Emphasis is on 'may' because they almost certainly will be charged:
- Leasehold fee - this is charged if any part of the property is managed by another person or management company. The cost is usually the same whether the property is actually leasehold or if it just covers the roads. (for example).
- Mortgage Legal Fee - this is a bit more controversial! It is an additional cost for any correspondence the firm has to have with your mortgage lender. This may be limited to only one letter which seems a bit steep but I find it highly unlikely that you will get away with refusing to pay it!
- Fees for completing forms - this one always sticks in the throat but the firm may charge you for filling in the various forms that it has to use to transfer the property into or out of your name. It's simply a way for the firm to raise extra fees and, even if the forms are online and take 2 minutes to complete, you may well be charged for it.
This list is far from exhaustive as every firm has a different policy but it should give you a decent idea of what to look for in the small-print of the estimate of costs. Don't just rely on a nice voice at the end of a phone - insist on receiving the estimate in writing and make sure you check the small-print over; query anything you are not sure about and question every single line. If you do this then you shouldn't have a nasty surprise when it comes to paying the bill!