The home buying process is often a daunting task, one that entails endless amounts of paperwork and fees. Unfortunately, most of these cannot be done alone. For this reason, the conveyancing process was born. It’s officially defined as the method of processing and handling legal documents, all of which are necessary for the specific property’s sale.
A couple of these documents require the draft transaction paper, which will then be sent to the conveyancer representing the other party during the process. This will then be checked thoroughly by either party involved, just to ensure that no further alterations and amendments are needed.
Once everything is deemed settled, the draft will be finalised. Your hired conveyancer will agree to have a copy is written up, which should include all other amendments done. This will then be signed by both parties, which will be you and the seller.
Although a rather straightforward process, bear in mind that conveyancing comes with fees, most of which will come as a surprise for many. One of the many unheard of fees is the engrossment fee, which is a fee charged by your conveyancer upon making a genuine and legalised copy of your legal documents, which will be for your signature. This includes the lease, for instance, or perhaps the contract to sell.
The engrossment process comes with numerous drafts and amendments, prompting your solicitor to go back and forth between the parties. Due to this added effort and expenses, conveyancers are entitled to charge you for an engrossment fee. However, keep in mind that most of these occur traditionally, and such methods can now be done digitally. Simply put, you won’t need to be charged for parchment papers, long processing times, and even gas.
Your conveyancer can simply hand over the document via email, but depending on your need, you may end up asking for a physical copy. To fully understand just how engrossment fees work, here is a comprehensive guide on engrossment fees to study:
Do I have to pay an engrossment fee?
You likely will encounter an engrossment fee when you buy a new property such as a flat or leasehold property. When you buy or lease a property, the conveyancing solicitor must prepare legal documents regarding the transfer or lease to be signed by both parties. The engrossment fee is a type of fee charged by the conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor may charge for making a genuine, legalised copy of documents for signature, such as a lease.
It’s long been common practice for Solicitors to require buyers to pay an engrossment fee because in the past, preparing engrossment documents would have taken a lot of manual typing.
The fee would cover the extra effort, expenses on paper and ink, and other additional requirements in preparing the legal documents regarding the purchase or lease. With the rise of the digital age and paperless transactions, however, the need for engrossment fees is slowly declining. Because of recent advancements in technology, the effort required to prepare these documents would likely be minimal nowadays.
If a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor is asking you to pay an engrossment fee, it’s best to first ask them to explain why you should pay an engrossment fee. It may not be a legal requirement, but it often comes as one of the conditions of the sale contract. It’s also best to read all the terms that come with the transaction to avoid extra charges. You may object to paying the engrossment fee if you think that it is an unfair charge.
Are engrossment fees a fair charge?
From everything gathered so far, the actual work involved in preparing legal documents regarding the transaction is now predominantly minimal. From there, one can argue that engrossment fees are essentially an unfair charge, but this only happens when you come across solicitors or conveyancers that do not work under ethical standards.
If you find your conveyancer charging you for a fee at much higher rates for mere preparations of the document, bear in mind that you have the right to ask for an explanation. The charge should have been explained to you before it even transpired. Anything less means you’ve been charged hidden fees, which is mistreatment. For these reasons, make sure to read the terms of service as meticulously as possible.
In the United Kingdom, fees currently stand for up to £180. These engrossment fees often come with purchasing leaseholds, converted properties, and even newly-constructed homes. Keep in mind that if you are indeed charged with such fees, your conveyancer must prepare and provide you with legal documentation, which should only require your signature. You shouldn’t be asked to do more, much less provide more fees.
When should the engrossment fee be paid?
When you’re just making a simple property transaction, you likely will not have to deal with an engrossment fee. Usually, you will just encounter an engrossment fee when you purchase a newly-built, converted, or leasehold property. That’s because these properties come with more complicated paperwork and engrossment will thus need significantly more effort.
Purchasing a newly-built home will essentially entail thorough paperwork, and engrossment fees will cover the developer’s efforts in handling the legal paperwork. Different developers will charge different fees for engrossment, so it’s best to ask and read the terms as thoroughly as possible.
What else should I consider carefully before agreeing to an engrossment fee?
Your search for the right property has likely led you to work with a realtor and a mortgage lender, and they’ll likely come with conveyancer recommendations. However, keep in mind that these people will likely charge higher fees. Before agreeing to anything, make sure to be on guard. Read the terms and conditions carefully, and never hesitate to ask questions.
Never shy away from inquiring about fees and prices, particularly when it comes to hidden costs. If you can, don’t hesitate to ask for any engrossment fees, and why you need to be charged for them. Most people end up working with conveyancers with fixed rates, as this lessens the chances of additional charges from happening.
If you’re unable to talk with a prospective conveyancer before hiring, don’t hesitate to email or get in touch with them through writing. Ask for a portfolio, along with a breakdown of fees. Anything that can help you finalise your decision should be welcomed.
Get Your Conveyancing Needs Right With The Proper Tools
The home buying process is exhausting enough as it is, and the amount of paperwork involved requires the help of a professional. The help of a conveyancer is vital to the overall success of your journey, but it’s always best to approach hiring with a strategy in mind. Don’t hesitate to ask questions nor question the system—you have the right to!
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