There’s no getting away from it, buying property is an expensive business. Stamp duty, surveys, removals, estate agent charges all need to be covered, as does your conveyancing. Question is, how much can you expect to pay a solicitor when buying a house in the UK?
In today’s post, we take a look at the average legal fees movers can anticipate paying, as well as a few other important points along the way.
Let’s answer the main query first, though, shall we?
How much do conveyancing solicitors charge on average?
Calculating a solid average figure for conveyancing fees is a tricky task, as so many variables have to be taken into consideration. That said, most property purchases will result in a solicitor’s bill somewhere in the region of £500 to £1,500. Bear in mind, however, that these figures are national averages. You could face a larger bill in certain parts of the country, especially London.
Why is there such a broad variation in fees?
As we highlighted above, there are many variables at play in property purchases, not least of which is the purchase price itself.
Many conveyancing solicitors will charge a percentage of the property value. That being said, there has been a definite increase in the amount of fixed fee conveyancers in the marketplace. This is thanks largely to relatively new rules allowing non-lawyers to operate law firms and the ability to conduct their business online.
Fixed fee conveyancing can be extremely tempting at first glance, but there are often further charges added along the way. This is because the ‘fixed’ part of the quote will only be a slice of the overall conveyancing cake.
While there are plenty of reputable companies offering conveyancing service in this way, it’s still wise to exercise extreme caution when going down the fixed fee route.
Should I expect different conveyancing firms to charge different amounts?
Yes, of course. Conveyancing solicitors are no different to any other business, so fees will vary from company to company.
How are conveyancing quotes broken down?
Although this may vary from firm to firm, many conveyancing solicitors will split their quotes into two parts: legal fees and conveyancing disbursements.
Legal fees cover the cost of the solicitor and the work they carry out for you, while conveyancing disbursements are made up of third-party charges, such as checks and searches.
What conveyancing disbursements can I expect to see in my quote?
The type of conveyancing disbursements that’ll be added to your bill will depend on the purchase itself and its individual requirements, but common ones include:
- Searches: Local, environmental, drainage, etc.
- Checks: Bankruptcy, electronic ID verification, property fraud, anti-money laundering
- Land registry charges: Dependant on property value, this covers the cost to transfer ownership
- Transfer charges: The fee banks charge to move money from one party to another
Remember, any disbursements ordered will incur an additional charge on top of your conveyancing fees
What can I do to save money on conveyancing fees?
The simplest way to save money on conveyancing fees is to do some homework and shop around. As we’ve already seen, the amount charged by a conveyancing solicitor can vary dramatically, so shopping around really is important before you commit to a given firm.
Is there an easy way to compare fees for conveyancing?
There is, but easy ways aren’t always the best option.
As with almost all products and services these days, comparison websites exist that enable you to quickly and easily set different conveyancing solicitors side by side to find the cheapest option available.
This sounds great on paper, but there’s often a catch involved, namely the fact that many aren’t exactly transparent about what the final fee will be. Instead, you’ll find yourself comparing incredibly attractive (i.e. cheap) prices that will be nowhere near what you’ll end up paying when your solicitor presents you with your final bill for conveyancing fees.
Comparison websites offer movers a great starting point in their search for a good conveyancing solicitor, but you should then go on to check the small print and determine what the final charge will be before you make your decision.
By obtaining a final fee from each firm, you put yourself in a position to compare apples with apples…which is far better than relying on headline fees designed to entice unsuspecting movers in.
What stage in the house buying process do I have to pay my legal fees?
This, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, will depend on the conveyancing solicitor you choose, as different firms will have different rules over payment.
Some will want incremental payments, while others will demand disbursements be covered initially and a lump sum paid when the deal is done. Some may even offer their service on a no-completion, no-fee basis.
One thing that remains fairly consistent across the board is that the balance will need to be paid at least two working days before the set completion date. This allows the conveyancer to set up the transfer in advance to avoid any delays on completion day.
There are specific instances when this may not be the case, such as if you are downsizing or if there is no onward purchase (i.e. you are selling a property without buying another one). In cases such as these, fees will be taken from the proceeds of the sale instead.
If you are looking to buy, sell, rent, or let property in the capital or across West Essex, we can help. Petty Son and Prestwich have been operating in London for well over a century, and we’d love to help you make your next move.
Give us a call, or pop in and see us, to discuss your situation and find out exactly how we can be of assistance. Our friendly team of experts are always on hand and happy to be of service.