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How much is conveyancing in London?

Moving in London and need a conveyancing solicitor for your house sale or purchase? We discuss the costs and disbursements you can expect from your property lawyer.

How much is conveyancing in London?

The London property market

There is distinct buoyancy about the capital’s property market at present, which appears to be underpinning the increase in house prices on a nationwide scale. House prices within London are expected to surge by six per cent in 2013 alone, adding £30,000 of value to a typical £500,000 family home.
 
Property experts, Savills have admitted they were somewhat “premature” in their prediction of “flat” progress in the London property market, after stamp duty increases in last year’s Budget failed to curtail growth.
 
London is increasingly viewed as a safe place to own property; it is being snapped up at its fastest pace since the peak of the housing boom way back in autumn 2007.
 
Property figures from analyst, Hometrack revealed that London property is spending an average of just 4.1 weeks up for sale – twice as quickly as the average 8.6 weeks needed for property to be sold across the country overall. In the North and Midlands, properties are still taking more than 10 weeks to sell on average.
 
Jonathan Hopper, managing director of property search consultants, Garrington, sums it up nicely by labelling the London property market as “an extraordinary microcosm”.
 
“It has effectively broken free of the rest of the UK and is operating in its own stratosphere,” he added.

If you are hoping to buy a home in London, you will need to find a conveyancing solicitor.

Conveyancing costs in London

Solicitors’ conveyancing fees are generally based on time and activity – time spent and work carried out from the beginning of the sale/purchase process through to completion day.
 
At reallymoving.com we have carefully collated the average costs for conveyancing in Central London for the first half of 2013 and the results are as follows:

 

Freehold

Leasehold

Buying

£367

£524

Selling

£380

£509


Costs will, however, vary according to the price of the property being bought or sold.
 
In terms of a national average, the cost of conveyancing is approaching £850 for buying and selling a house.
 
As you can see from the table, conveyancing for leasehold properties is markedly more expensive than freehold homes. The majority of flats and apartments in London are leasehold.
 
The added expense is because leasehold properties usually require additional investigations into the length of the lease (many mortgage lenders will not provide a mortgage if a lease has less than 60 years to run), liaising with the landlord to serve appropriate notices on them or the managing agent, obtaining an up-to-date service charge and management information.
 
Conveyancing solicitors and property lawyers are highly accustomed to finding their way around a lease. However, there is simply no alternative than to read the lease from start to finish – regardless of the fact it may have passed through the hands of numerous conveyancers since its initial approval.
 
In some instances in London you will find a flat or apartment for sale which is offered as a “share of freehold”. In essence this means the property will remain leasehold, but the lease is created by the ‘residents’ who act as the ‘landlord’. Subsequently each owner occupier takes a share of the freehold of the entire building or complex.

Disbursements

Disbursements are all the extra charges that your conveyancing solicitor or property lawyer will be required to pass on to you at the conclusion of the buying or selling process.
 
There are many common disbursements of buying and selling in London. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) requires all solicitors to provide an accurate breakdown of expenses and disbursements passed on to movers.
 
With record-high London asking prices and sellers within the capital becoming increasingly more confident about sticking to those figures, buyers need to ensure they compare and contrast conveyancer charges up front in order to get a quote that suits your budget.
 
Here is a list of typical charges to consider:
 
Buying in London

  • Bankruptcy search: Ascertaining whether you, or any other person named on the mortgage, have been declared bankrupt.

  • Local authority searches: Your local London borough council will check its records to determine any local influences on your chosen property e.g. planning applications, enforcement actions or land contamination.

  • Land Registry office copies: A pre-completion search to ensure the vendor owns the property you plan to buy.

  •  Environmental search: Investigates specific concerns regarding the property e.g. subsidence, flooding or contamination.

  • Drainage search: Ascertains whether the property is connected to fresh and foul water sewers.

  • Chancel repair liability search: An ancient medieval law which affects 5,200 parishes across the UK – including London – this search ascertains whether you will be required to contribute towards the upkeep of a neighbouring parish church.

  • Local searches: Location-specific searches – in London this may be linked to its industrial heritage with properties in the Docklands and East London likely to require an environmental search. Meanwhile properties in close proximity to the River Thames may require a British Waterways search.

  • Telegraphic transfer fee: A charge by your bank to cover the cost of transferring the money needed to acquire the property to the seller’s conveyancer.

  • Land registration fee: A fixed cost disbursement depending on the cost of the property being purchased – ranging from £40 to £700.

 Selling in London

  • Land Registry office copies: Documentation confirming you are the legal owner of the property you wish to sell.

  • Telegraphic transfer fee: A charge to transfer money to pay off your existing mortgage.

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