How Much Does Conveyancing Cost?

May 7, 2017

What do conveyancing costConveyancing Solicitors do when asked how much does conveyancing cost?

Popular belief, before the dawning of the internet, was that the response involved a variety of contorting faces, grinding of teeth, puckering lips Trump-style, sharp intakes of breath and quizzical shrugs of the shoulders.

Sometimes all of the above.

Happily, today, although getting a simple Conveyancing Quotation from some law firms is still painful or requires many hoop jumps, there is a lot more information and transparency on the costs involved when moving home.

"Happily, today, although getting a simple Conveyancing Quotation from some law firms is still painful or requires many hoop jumps, there is a lot more information and transparency on the costs involved when moving home."

What you may find strange is why relatively few law firms put their Conveyancing fees on their websites.

Welcome to Day 7 of our blog a day, 31 Days in May series – your Conveyancing questions answered – all in one place.

Why Conveyancers should publish their fees for buying or selling.

There has been a lot of consumer debate on the transparency of legal fees and not just Conveyancing fees.

The Competition and Markets Authority has recommended lawyers display their prices more prominently so customers and clients know what they will pay.

So why so few published fees?

Something to hide perhaps, too inconvenient, too many deals with third parties, too squeamish or just shy and retiring?

"So why so few published fees? Something to hide perhaps, too inconvenient, too many deals with third parties, too squeamish or just shy and retiring?"

Who knows?

We’ve always been firm believers in publishing our Conveyancing fees upfront and have done so for many years.

We have always provided fixed fees as well with a guarantee there would be no unforeseen surprises at the end of the sale or purchase. So long in fact, if you type into your search engine “guaranteed fixed fees with no hidden extras” can you guess what might appear fist in the listings?

Put Yourself Your Clients’ Shoes

The point is that if I am researching say a hotel or a holiday I would want to know the cost involved as part of my research.

I do not understand why researchConveyancers should feel they are any different.

The nature of the internet lends itself to instant information, yet the best some law firms can offer is the opportunity to engage with the firm by email.

In our experience, people who are researching the legal fees for moving home do so at a time when the offices are closed.

How frustrating not to get what you are looking for?

Good News on Conveyancing Quotes

Truth be told, there are numerous law firms who make getting a quote for Conveyancing as easy as one, two, three…

A quick Google search for Conveyancing or a Conveyancing Calculator and in the blink of an eye you have a vast array of choice.

All you need to do then is jump onto an online Conveyancing Calculator and off you go: a full breakdown of all the Conveyancing fees, Government taxes, and third party payments that you ill need to pay before stepping into your new house or flat.

Conveyancing Quotation or Conveyancing Estimate

You should always enquire of your conveyancing solicitor whether the figures you have been given are a conveyancing fee quotation i.e. fixed or a Conveyancing fee estimate i.e. capable of being adjusted – invariably in an upwards only direction.

I have actually seen an award winning law firm website state that their conveyancing fees were always a quotation and not an estimate but yet still said:

“In a small minority of cases, there may be legal issues which mean there is an inevitable cost overrun. If this is the case, you will be told in advance, advised of the extra fees which will be payable, and asked if you wish to proceed”

Sorry, guys, but that is just not fair.

The pressure applied to someone who may be half way through their transaction to take their conveyancing elsewhere is just not realistic.

If it is a conveyancing quotation it should be exactly that!

"The pressure applied to someone who may be half way through their transaction to take their conveyancing elsewhere is just not realistic. If it is a conveyancing quotation it should be exactly that!"

Unrealistic Conveyancing Fees

If it is too good to be true – then it is and it doesn’t exist.

So, don’t be fooled by such low numbers – you have more chance of winning the lottery than being charged a final legal bill of £99 or £199.

"You have more chance of winning the lottery than being charged a final legal bill of £99 or £199."

There will be so many caveats and conditions you really would be wasting your time.

But, you knew that, right?

What Do Conveyancing Fees Mean?

People often say their legal fees when they moved house were thousands and thousands of pounds.

What they really mean is that the overall cost of moving was thousands and thousands of pounds which included their Conveyancing fees.

Most online conveyancing calculators do a comprehensive job of listing payments to the Government via Stamp Duty and VAT, Government Departments such as The Land Registry and other such as Search Companies and Local Authorities (we discuss these in more detail below).

So what you get with your Conveyancing Quotation will also be a comprehensive breakdown of all the other (let’s be honest, huge payments in respect of Stamp Duty) you will need to budget for.

How Do Conveyancers Charge for Conveyancing?

This varies between firms.

Some will give a global fee no matter how straight forward or complicated your move is or becomes.

Global fees will, in general, be higher as you may be subsiding others whose sales and purchases are more complicated.

Most will give a standard fee plus a menu of other possible fees depending on circumstances. So, you pay for only what you use or need.

In the vast majority of cases, you will be offered fixed fees for Conveyancing rather than hourly rates.

Why We Don’t Like Global Conveyancing Fees

We don’t like the global fee approach.

We believe above all else clients want the certainty of what the final bill will or may be.

We believe you want the comfort and peace of mind that there will be no nasty price shocks at the end of their move.

By offering fixed Conveyancing fees the law firm takes the risk so you do not have to. It will make no difference how long or how complex or complicated the move becomes.

You get the benefit of Guaranteed Fixed Legal Fees with No Hidden Extras.

Where your sale or purchase involves additional documents or investigation or you ask us to carry out additional services, any additional fees paid by you will be on the same Guaranteed Fixed Fee basis.

If anything crops up in your Conveyancing transaction, which is not covered, you will simply not be charged.

What Are The Other Payments Involved In Moving House?

There are some other payments which are unavoidable when you move home.

First the big nasty! Stamp Duty, or to give it the correct title, Stamp Duty Land Tax.

The name was changed by Chancellor Gordon Brown a few years back and is a new Tax rather than the old Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty can trace its roots back to the late 17th Century when it was used to build up the war chest for a war against France.

How much is Stamp Duty?

Before 2014 a 'slab structure' was in place. Buyers paid stamp duty on the whole property purchase price.

The law changed to a tiered structure so the tax is now payable only on that portion of a property price which falls within each band.

It changed again in 2016.

There is now a twin track system for the payment of Stamp Duty.

You pay one rate where you do not already own a home (or other than the one you live in) and one rate where you pay an additional tax where you already own a home (and, that home does not have to be in the England and Wales, it can be anywhere in the world.) In this later category, from April 2016, property buyers in England and Wales have had to pay an additional 3% in each stamp duty band.

The Government’s Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator can work out the good or bad news for you. The following example is used on its website:

Property value

SDLT rate

Up to £125,000

Zero

The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)

2%

The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)

5%

The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

10%

The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

12%

Example

If you buy a house for £275,000, the SDLT you owe is calculated as follows:

0% on the first £125,000                                    = £0

2% on the next £125,000                                  = £2,500

5% on the final £25,000                                     = £1,250

Total SDLT                                                            = £3750

If you are liable for the “additional” property Stamp Duty then the tax is calculated as follows:

Property value

SDLT rate

Up to £125,000

Zero   3%

The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000)

2%      5%

The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000)

5%      8%

The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

10%  13%

The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

12%  15%

Using the same example:

If you buy an “additional” house for £275,000, the SDLT you owe is calculated as follows:

3% on the first £125,000 =    £3750

5% on the next £125,000 =   £6250

8% on the final £25,000 =     £2000

Total SDLT                              = £12000

How Much Are Search Fees?

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will carry out due diligence on the property you wish to buy.

This does not just involve checking the title deeds but also searches of various registers and data.

Search fees tend to be lumped together and will include Local Authority Searches.and ancillary searches such as Water and Drainage, Flooding and Environmental and possibly Coal, Tin or Brine searches depending on what area of the country you live in.

You should budget between £250 to £350.

What about Other Third Party Fees?

Land Registry Fees

HM Land Registry is the Government office charged with authenticating sales of property and transferring into the Buyers name.

All new purchases must be registered with Land Registry and a fee is payable which will vary depending on the purchase price.

Money Laundering

All Conveyancers are under a legal obligation to make such checks and a fee is payable.

Indemnity Insurance

There may be instances where a defect in title or a potential liability cannot be overlooked. A cost effective way of dealing with such issues is by way of an insurance policy. The policies can vary from £25 to several hundred pounds.

We will go into more detail later in the series.

So there you have it, a breakdown of how much conveyancing costs.

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