Conveyancing fees - what are you paying for?
Sorry to break it to you, but conveyancing fees are unavoidable in the home buying process.
Knowing exactly what you’re paying for can make coughing up a little less painful, so read on to discover what you’re actually getting for those hefty conveyancing fees.
What is conveyancing, and why do I need it?
When buying a house, you (and your mortgage lender) will want assurance that the property doesn’t come with any legal issues that will affect its value or your rights.
This is where conveyancing comes in. One of the key steps of homebuying is instructing a conveyancer – which is essentially a specialist property lawyer – to conduct a series of checks against the house you’re buying. A solicitor can also perform conveyancing.
Checks include things like Land Registry searches, environmental searches, and even looking for obscure things like whether you’ll be liable to help pay for repairs to your local church.
How are conveyancing fees calculated?
Conveyancing fees include various costs and can be billed in different ways depending on who your conveyancer is.
Here is the basic breakdown:
Most conveyancers will give you a quote based on the time they’ll spend on your case. This means that every phone call and email they send and receive pertaining to your property sale will be added to your bill.
Disbursements are the nitty-gritty of conveyancing fees. They’re the costs that your conveyancer pays to third parties on your behalf and include:
- Search costs such as with the local authority, water board, drain and environmental authorities
- The cost of assurance checks such as bankruptcy checks, anti-money laundering checks and property fraud checks
- Copies of documents such as title deeds
- Land registration fees for transferring ownership of the property to you
Unfortunately, the fees don’t stop there. There are almost countless add-on costs which your specific transaction might be liable for.
These include ‘gifted deposit’ paperwork (required if someone else is paying your deposit), a Help to Buy supplement if you’re using one of these schemes, or Deeds of Covenant for leasehold properties.
Leasehold conveyancing fees tend to be higher than freehold, as there is extra work involved in going over the particulars of the lease and liaising with the managing agent.
How much does conveyancing cost?
You’re looking at anywhere from £80 - £1,500.
We strongly recommend getting an itemised quote which lists each cost transparently to avoid unpleasant surprises when your final bill arrives.
Bear in mind that a solicitor usually costs more than a conveyancer as a solicitor is qualified to perform a wide range of legal services. In contrast, a conveyancer focuses on property transactions. Also, if your case ends up taking longer than expected, you’ll usually get charged extra for your conveyancer’s overtime.
Why does conveyancing cost so much?
When you instruct a conveyancer, you’re hiring a legal professional to undertake the process on your behalf.
The keyword here is ‘professional’ – the person responsible will have undergone years of training, and their knowledge of property law will be second-to-none. This means your property purchase is protected from legal curveballs that might have caused you serious stress down the line.
Can I get conveyancing fees back if the sale falls through?
Yes – but only if you’ve taken out Home Buyers Protection Insurance prior to instructing your conveyancer.
With Home Buyers Protection Insurance in place, you can reclaim conveyancing solicitor’s fees if something beyond your control happens, leading to the transaction falling through (as 1 in 4 in the UK do). These things can include gazumping, unexpected home survey or conveyancing results, or the seller pulling out for any reason.
Conveyancing fees must be paid upfront – and without Home Buyers Protection Insurance in place, these fees are lost forever. So, if you think conveyancing fees seem a little steep, we advise that you avoid paying them twice over by taking out this cover before you begin the conveyancing process.