The truth about Conveyancing fees
If you are either buying or selling a property, one of the components in the costs will be for Conveyancing fees – the most complained area in law. In 2016, for instance, almost a quarter of all complaints about solicitors were to do with conveyancing.
This underlines the importance of ensuring that you instruct the right expert Conveyancing solicitor to carry out your Conveyancing.
What is Conveyancing and why do you need a solicitor?
The term Conveyancing describes the legal process that takes place in a property transaction between acceptance of the offer and completion of the sale. Some of the costs apply to the buyer and some to the seller, but a few can potentially apply to both.
What fees are involved in Conveyancing?
Conveyancing fees are generally divided into two parts: the legal fees paid to the solicitor for their work and the various disbursements required to complete the process.
The legal fees vary mainly according to the price of the property and the service of the solicitor. However, there may also be additions according to how complex the transaction is. For example, the costs may be higher if the property is a leasehold.
The disbursements cover various fees required by outside agencies for necessary services involved in the Conveyancing process. These can vary from one transaction to another, but among the most common are, for the buyer:
- Local authority searches, such as environmental and drainage searches. Buyers are generally also advised to request planning searches, which will reveal any planned developments that could impinge on the property.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable on purchases of £125,000 or more. This increases on a sliding scale according to the price.
- Bank transfer fees may be required to ensure that the transfer of funds occurs promptly on the specified day.
- If you are getting any help with funds, either as a private gift or from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, this is likely to involve extra fees.
- Identity checks, to ensure that the purchase is not part of a money laundering scheme, are especially likely to be needed if you are a foreign national or live abroad.
And for the vendor:
- You will probably need to request a copy of the title deeds from the Land Registry in order to complete the sale.
- You will also need to pay the Land Registry for transferring ownership of the property.
Note, however, that these are only the most common disbursements needed, and other payments may be required for a specific transaction. Your solicitor should go through these requirements with you in advance.
Conveyancing fees versus other fees
The total sum of fees for Conveyancing may come as a shock if your solicitor has not been open with you from the start. However, in reality, it amounts to a relatively small proportion of the fees you will pay for moving home.
For example, Osborne Morris & Morgan’s fees for a house costing £300,000 would be approximately £1,245. By contrast, you will also pay around £4,500 in Stamp Duty, while your estate agent would be charging around £5,400, depending on what was agreed.
Not such a high price for ensuring that the vital legal processes in the transaction are carried out promptly and efficiently, hey?
Why are there so many complaints about Conveyancing?
As mentioned earlier, not all Conveyancing solicitors provide the same level of service. While the best will often give you a fixed-fee quotation, and will stick to this, some solicitors add on hidden extras later on.
A trap people often get caught in is to assume they have been given a fixed-fee quote when in fact they have only been given an estimate. In these cases, it is very likely that various hidden costs will be added to it, and the final bill may be considerably higher.
These extras may be unforeseen or costs that should have been anticipated. In addition, the solicitor may charge extra for adapting to your needs. For example, perhaps you can only meet with the solicitor in the evening, or it might be more convenient to hold conversations over Skype. In these cases, some solicitors may increase their prices.
Before accepting a quote from a Conveyancing solicitor, it is vital to ensure that you have been offered a final quote, rather than an estimate. There could be something hidden in the small print that allows them to increase the price. A professional solicitor is a transparent one, who honours that quote.
What to look for in a conveyancing solicitor
The easiest option is often thought to accept your estate agent’s recommendation, but this is not necessarily in your best interests. They may have been paid a referral fee by the solicitor and be referring them regardless of whether they are the best available.
It is recommended that you do your own research and check the solicitor’s credentials, as well as making sure you know exactly what the quote includes. Conveyancing is a very specialist field, so ensure that you choose a solicitor who only works in that field and has all the necessary qualifications and accreditations to show their level of expertise and credibility. Of course, the firm as a whole may cover a wide range of law, but its Conveyancing solicitors must be experts.
It is also vital to find out what you can about their reputation. A trusted personal recommendation is ideal, but failing this, reading online reviews about them can also tell you a great deal.
At Osborne Morris & Morgan our award-winning Conveyancing team are experts in the field and continually receive positive feedback about the service and communication from clients If you are thinking of moving home and would like to know more about the Conveyancing process, and the fees you can expect to pay for it, please get in touch directly with us for a friendly discussion.