Explained: Solicitors' fees for buying a house

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

Explained: Solicitors' fees for buying a house

The process of moving house involves a number of fees when buying a home, many of which will be linked to your conveyancing solicitor. It is useful to understand what these solicitor fees are, and how much they are likely to amount to so you know what to expect and have the funds in place. 
 
Costs can vary – sometimes quite considerably – from one conveyancer to the next, and can also vary depending 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. Typical conveyancing fees can range from around £330 to as much as £1,050 (not including stamp duty) and tend to be broken down into legal fees and disbursements.

Legal fees

The overall cost of your conveyancing is payable directly to the conveyancing solicitor. This is generally inclusive of their time, registrations and costs they have had to incur over the entire period. Solicitor fees vary depending on the property lawyer, so it is worth shopping around and getting several quotes.
 
You will be charged a base fee (usually in the order of a few hundred pounds) for the conveyancer’s handling of your case from beginning to end. This may be either a fixed fee or based on a per-hour rate.
 
The average conveyancing costs for freehold and leasehold properties including VAT, and excluding other disbursements:

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

Overall

£446

£760

 

If you are buying a leasehold property, the costs will be higher than buying a freehold property because the leases can be complex and often require substantial additional time to check. Your conveyancer should make you aware of this. 

Search fees 

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 about conveyancing searches with our guide.

Arrangement fees

Arrangement fees are now incredibly common throughout mortgage applications. Sometimes known as the booking fee, arrangement fees can be standard practice amongst conveyancers handling fixed rate mortgages.

Land Registry fees

Your conveyancing solicitor will arrange amendments to the documentation of ownership at domestic property for a small cost. Registering the property ownership with the Land Registry attracts a fee that varies (significantly) 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.

Stamp Duty

Introduced by the Government in June 1694. The purchase tax of any property in the UK costing £125,001 and above. Stamp Duty is paid at the point of completion and has to be from your own funds i.e. outside of your mortgage agreement. If you are unsure about this charge we recommend you liaise with your conveyancing solicitor to clarify the current Stamp Duty (or Stamp Duty Land Tax SDLT) costs or take a look at our guide to stamp duty. You will be charged extra SDLT if you are purchasing a second home or a Buy To Let property.
 
Following the reform in December 2014, Stamp Duty is payable on the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band. This differs from being worked out as a percentage of the whole purchase price:


     •        Up to £125,001– 0%
     •        Over £125,001 to £250,000 – 2%
     •        Over £250,001 to £925,000 – 5%
     •        Over £925,001 to £1,500,000 – 10%
     •        Over £1,500,00 – 12%

 


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Valuation fee

Following the Building Societies Act 1986, building societies have been duty bound to report and valuate every property when new advances are made. A valuation is not a survey, and you are strongly advised to arrange your own independent survey. At reallymoving.com we can provide instant survey quotes from regulated surveyors with expert local knowledge of your area.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

EPCs are a compulsory element of moving house. An EPC must be commissioned before the property is placed on the market and needs to be available to view within 28 days of being marketed. Secure an EPC quote via our network of professional Domestic Energy Assessors available in your region.

Property deeds

In the event that you don’t have the deeds to your current property in your possession you can ask your property lawyer to produce official copies of the deeds to the house from the Land Registry.

Telegraphic transfer fees

Telegraphic transfer fees relate to bank charges made by your conveyancer for the electronic transfer of funds for your house move. Should you require the balance of your property sale transferred to you by bank transfer, then your property lawyer will require a telegraphic transfer fee to complete the transaction.

Some conveyancing firms may attempt to entice home owners to their practice with cheap solicitor fees. It is much wiser to go with a reputable firm that provides a good service, even if they charge that little bit more. You may also ask your property lawyer if they provide ‘no sale no fee’ deals, although this may incur a small supplement.

Conveyancing disbursements

While legal fees are charged to cover the work undertaken by the conveyancer in connection with the property purchase, disbursements are fees charged by third parties, which the conveyancer collects from you and pays to the other party on your behalf. While some disbursements – such as bankruptcy and ID checks, and the final Land Registry check – are fairly nominal (under £10) others can add considerably to the overall conveyancing fee.

Conveyancing disbursements: Solicitor fees for buying a house

 

Bankruptcy search (£2-£4 per person taking out the mortgage): Your mortgage lender will need to check that you have not been declared bankrupt.
 
Land Registry office copies: (£4-£8): to confirm that the individual selling the property you wish to purchase is 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 be undertaken to ensure that the council do not have plans to make any changes that will affect your property in the future. For example, planned major road schemes, contaminated land or if your property is in a conservation area. The cost of this search will differ depending on the area you live in.
 
Water and drainage search (£30-£40 plus VAT): Costs will vary depending on your water company. This search will confirm if your property is connected to mains water, drainage and surface water drainage. The latter is becoming more and more important due to flooding being a major concern. 
 
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


In Scotland, a fee applies to register your title with the Land Register of Scotland, for more information click here.

Conveyancing disbursements: Solicitor fees for selling a house

 

Land Registry office copies (£4-£8): Confirmation 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.

Referral Fees 

It is also worth noting that if your estate agent or private company recommend a conveyancing solicitor, the referral solicitor fees may end up costing you £100s, which is another reason why conveyancing costs can differ so much. Ask your conveyancer to clarify the referral fee they are paying for your business. See our how much does a property lawyer pay for getting my business article for further information.

Comparing conveyancing solicitor fees

Our online comparison tool allows you to instantly compare quotes from four reputable conveyancers and with our conveyancing solicitors directory you can choose from over 50 highly professional conveyancers who are up front with their fees.

Our advice is to beware of online conveyancers offering prices that seem too good to be true. Do your research, look for online reviews and only choose a conveyancer who is able to provide you with a full and detailed quote including both conveyancing fees and disbursements. Be aware that conveyancers who fail to provide a reasonable breakdown of their fees, expenses and disbursements may be in breach of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct.
 
Please note, the solicitor fees referred to in this article are relevant to England and Wales only.

 
Last reviewed December 2016

Comments

  • David Howes says...

    posted on 19/10/2013 07:58:50

    I queried a cost of £37.50 + VAT for a Telegraphic Transfer with the solicitor handling my sale on the basis that interbank transfers are now free and essentially instantaneous. His reply was that the banks now require solicitors to use a specific system which is time consuming and the charge was really for the time taken to complete the various stages of the process. If so, this seems a step backward.

  • Tom Jones says...

    posted on 11/11/2015 23:31:36

    CHAPS/Telegraphic Transfer Fees always seem really high and unfair. However, the making of the payment is actually quite a demanding process for the conveyancer/solicitor. Firstly their own bank will make a charge, often around £8 - £15 plus VAT. Then the firm often has a designated member of staff who processes the admin (preparing the payment form, monitoring the accounts, maintaining the accounts, checking the sort code/account numbers, checking the validity of the receiving bank) so there is a full salary to pay, then when the payments are set up they often require a second person often of Partner level to cross check and authorise them. The process can take between 15 - 30 minutes and involves costs and risks, hence a fee often of £30+.

  • Barry Sharp says...

    posted on 27/01/2017 20:32:40

    Please enlighten me with regards to referral fees, I am selling house and buying one using the same. Solicitor. I am being charged two referral fees why?

    There are strict regulations around referral fees and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which regulates conveyancing solicitors has a strict referral code. Solicitors are required to set out a full quotation which details their fees, the disbursement costs and associated expenses with your transaction.  

    They are also required to reveal how much they paid for your referral which you can read more about, here.

    Solicitors practicing in England & Wales are required to comply with Chapter 9 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) Handbook ‘Fee Sharing and Referrals’ and Licensed Conveyancers with the CLC's Guidance Note 6 Disclosure of Profits and Advantages, Issue 2, (March 2009).  Solicitors practicing in Scotland are required to comply with the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011; and all Solicitors practicing in Northern Ireland must adhere to Solicitors Practice Regulations 2013


     

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