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Explained: Solicitor fees for buying a house

Improve your understanding of conveyancing costs and solicitor fees to avoid any last-minute financial hitches with your house move.

Explained: Solicitor fees for buying a house

This guide covers everything you'll need to know about solicitors fees, including:
  1. Average solicitors fees for buying a house
  2. Stamp Duty
  3. Conveyancing Disbursements
  4. Additional Fees
  5. Conveyancing fees in Scotland
  6. Compare Solicitor Fees


The costs of moving home can easily add up - the process involves a number of fees, many of which can be around your conveyancing. It's good to know what these fees are, and how much they are likely to cost so you can be prepared. 

(You can use our Moving Cost Calculator to get a good idea of the overall cost of your move.)
 

Solicitor fees for conveyancing can vary, and also depend on the property and its location, as these can affect the types of searches that need to be carried out as part of the conveyancing process. 


How much are solicitors fees for buying a house?

Conveyancing solicitor fees range from around £400-£1,500 (excluding Stamp Duty) and tend to be broken down into 'standard legal fees' and 'disbursements'.

Disbursements include local searches and cost up to £300 on top of your standard legal fees.

The overall cost of your conveyancing is payable directly to the conveyancing solicitor. This is usually inclusive of their time, registrations and costs. For example, your solicitor will pay for the searches when they have to be done, and then you'll pay the whole amount when the property transaction goes through, covering their costs as well as paying the fee.

Solicitor fees vary, so it's worth shopping around by getting a few quotes from different firms and looking at reviews. (We can help you compare solicitor fees).

How are fees broken down?

You'll be charged a base fee (usually around a few hundred pounds) for the conveyancer’s handling of your case from beginning to end. The cost may be either a fixed fee or based on a per-hour rate.
 
The average conveyancing costs for freehold and leasehold properties including VAT, excluding other disbursements are as follows:

Property price band 

Freehold 

Leasehold 

Up to £125,000

£414

£740

Up to £250,000

£431

£753

Up to £375,000

£457

£786

Up to £500,000

£493

£812

Up to £750,000

£664

£917

Up to £1,000,000

£939

£1,061

Up to £1,250,000

£1,426

£1,554

Up to £1,500,000

£1,390

£1,502

Average

£446

£760

 

If you are buying a leasehold property, costs may be higher because leases can be complex and often need additional time to check. Your conveyancing solicitor should make you aware of this. 
 

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax is a purchase tax on any property in England or Northern Ireland costing £500,000 (this a temporary lower threshold introduced following the coronavirus pandemic from 7th July 2020-31st March 2021). Stamp Duty is paid at the point of completion and has to be from your own funds (it can't be included in your mortgage agreement).

If you're buying in Wales or Scotland, there are Stamp Duty equivalents. In Scotland it's a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), and in Wales it's a Land Transaction Tax (LTT). These have different rates, but work on the same principle.

Similarly, if you are First Time Buyer, or are buying a second property, there are different rates. You can find out more about this in our guide to Stamp Duty. You can also confirm the amount with your solicitor.

Stamp Duty is payable on the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band. The tax bands (7th July 2020-31st March 2021):
  • 0% on the first £500,000 paid (this includes shared ownership properties if the share is under £500,000)

  • 5% on the property price between £500,001 and £925,000

  • 10% on the property price between £925,001 and £1,500,000

  • 12% on the property price of £1,500,001 and over

You can find out how much your Stamp Duty will cost by using our online calculator.


Conveyancing Disbursements

While legal fees are charged to cover the work your conveyancer does, disbursements are different. These are fees charged by third parties, which the conveyancer collects from you and pays on your behalf. These can be things like bankruptcy and ID checks, or Land Registry checks. While some disbursements, like the ones mentioned, are low cost (under £10), others can be more expensive.

Conveyancing disbursements: Solicitor fees for buying a house

Bankruptcy search (£2-£4 per person taking out the mortgage): Your mortgage lender needs to check that you have not been declared bankrupt.
 
Land Registry office copies: (£4-£8): these confirm that the individual selling the property you wish to buy is legally the owner.
 
Electronic ID verification (£2-£18 per person taking out the mortgage): Your conveyancer will need proof of your recent address and ID documentation. These details will be checked using national records to ensure all information is correct. 
 
Local authority searches (£100-£200): A local authority search will ensure that the council don't have plans to make changes that will affect your property in the future. This could be things like major road changes, contaminated land or if your property is in a conservation area. The cost of this search differs depending on the area.
 
Water and drainage search (£30-£40 plus VAT): This search will confirm that your property is connected to mains water, drainage and surface water drainage. The latter is very important due to flooding becoming a major concern. Costs will vary depending on the water company.
 
Environmental search (£30-£35 plus VAT): This search will check if there is any contaminated land near your property.
 
Telegraphic transfer fee (£25-£45 plus VAT): This is a charge by your bank to cover the cost of transferring the money used to buy the property to the seller’s conveyancing solicitor.
 
Mortgage handling fee (£60-£80): A solicitor may charge a fee for working with your bank or mortgage provider and taking care of the legal work involved in setting up your mortgage.
 
HMLR final search (£3-£7): A final search that is carried out just before completion.
 
Land Registry Charge (£20-£910): This is a fixed cost and the fee depends on the value of your property. This cost should be included in your conveyancing quote. These can be paid electronically or by post.

Land Registry charges are outlined below:

Value (£)

Electronic fee (£)

Postal fee (£)

Below £80,000

£20

£40

£80,001-£100,000

£40

£80

£100,001-£200,000

£95

£190

£200,001-£500,000

£135

£270

£500,001-£1,000,000

£270

£540

£1,000,001 and over £455 £910


Conveyancing disbursements: Solicitor fees for selling a house 

Land Registry office copies (£4-£8): Confirms that you are the legal owner of the property that is being sold.

Telegraphic transfer fee (£25-£45): The fee charged when transferring money to pay off your existing mortgage.
 
Mortgage redemption fee (£60-£80): A solicitor may charge for the legal work involved to pay off the remainder of your mortgage.
 

Additional Fees

Search Costs 

As part of the home-buying process, your conveyancing solicitor will carry out a variety of ‘searches’ with the local authority and other parties. These searches identify additional information regarding a property which may not be obvious, such as whether planning permission may be granted for a future development.

You can find out more in our guide to conveyancing searches.

Arrangement Fees

Arrangement fees are now incredibly common throughout mortgage applications. They can also be known as a booking fee.

Land Registry Fees

Your conveyancing solicitor will arrange amendments to the documentation of ownership for a small cost. Registering the property ownership with the Land Registry attracts a fee that varies depending on the value of the property – from £40 for properties priced under £80,000, up to £910 for first registration of properties valued over £1,000,000.

Valuation Fee

A valuation fee is usually an addition to your mortgage, as the lender assesses whether the property is appropriate. This is not the same thing as a property survey, and you are strongly advised to arrange your own independent survey from a Chartered Surveyor to check the property is in good condition.

Have a look at our guide to surveys to figure out which one you might need.

Property Deeds

If you don’t have the deeds to your current property, you can ask your conveyancing solicitor to produce official copies of the deeds to the house from the Land Registry.

Telegraphic transfer fees

Telegraphic transfer fees relate to bank charges for the electronic transfer of funds for your house move. If you need the paid amount for your sale transferred to you by bank transfer, then your property lawyer will require a telegraphic transfer fee to complete the transaction.

Referral Fees 

Remember that if your estate agent or a private company recommend a conveyancing solicitor, they are probably being paid a referral fee. These tend to inflate the price you pay for the solicitor, and can end up costing you £100s. Ask your conveyancer to clarify the referral fee they are paying for your business.

See our article on how much does a property lawyer pay for getting my business for further information.

Conveyancing fees in Scotland

The conveyancing process in Scotland is slightly different, and as such, the charges can differ. 
We have listed the buying and selling disbursements and outlays that are required for property transactions in Scotland.

Purchasing a property

Telegraphic transfer fee (£20-£40 plus VAT): If funds need to be transferred to buy the property there will be a transfer charge by the bank.

Registration Dues- Creation of standard security (£60): If you require a mortgage for your new property, this fee will be added to your conveyancing costs.

Registration Dues- Creation of interest in Land (£60-£7,500): Fee applies to register your title with the Land Register of Scotland. These costs are based on the value of your property and can be paid online using the Automated Registration of Title to Land system (ARTL) or in paper format.

The breakdown of fees is as follows:

Value (£) Paper (£) ARTL (£)
Up to £50,000 £60 £50
Up to £100,000 £120 £90
Up to £150,000 £240 £180
Up to £200,000 £360 £270
Up to £300,000 £480 £360
Up to £500,000 £600 £450
Up to £700,000 £720 £540
Up to £1,000,000 £840 £660
Up to £2,000,000 £1,000 £800
Up to £3,000,000 £3,000 £2,500
Up to £5,000,000 £5,000 £4,500
Over £5,000,000 £7,5000 £7,000

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT): Equivalent to Stamp Duty, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax works in the same way.

The price bands (7th July 2020-31st March 2021) are below:
 

Purchase price bands (£)

LBTT percentage rate (%)

Up to £250,000

0%

£250,000 to £325,000

5%

£325,001 to £750,000

10%

Over £750,000

12%


Please note that if you are purchasing a second home or Buy to Let property you will have to pay an additional surcharge.

Selling a property
Telegraphic transfer fee (£20-£40 plus VAT): If you have a current mortgage that needs to be paid off a fee will be charged to transfer the money.

Local search (£60-£100): This is a search carried out by your local authority and the fee will vary depending on your local authority.

Search pack fee (£120-£200): Solicitors in Scotland may sometimes quote a search pack fee. Costs will vary but may include local searches, drainage searches and environmental searches.

Mining search (£45): An additional cost will incur if you require a mining search. This is only necessary if the property is in an area of past mining activity.

Advance notice (£10): A notice which protects a deed that is intended to be registered in 35 days.

Registration Dues-Discharge of Standard Security (£60): If you are selling a property with a mortgage this fee will apply.
 

Comparing conveyancing solicitor fees

Our online comparison tool allows you to instantly compare quotes from 4 reputable conveyancers, looking at their prices and reviews from past customers.

Buying or selling a property is a big life event, and choosing a conveyancing solicitor you trust is important. Have a look at our guide to choosing a great conveyancing solicitor for more information.

Last reviewed July 2020

 

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