When you’re looking for a conveyancing solicitor, and you’re comparing conveyancing costs, it can be easy to be overwhelmed over which one you should choose. Conveyancing has turned into a highly competitive business, which means that many firms may be adjusting their rates to look cheaper than they genuinely are, only to surprise you with hidden fees.
Few things are as unpleasant as being excited to find a conveyancing solicitor that seems to have a reasonable price, only to be faced with a mountain of hidden costs. The good news is that we’ve prepared a guide to help you understand the costs that should be included in a conveyancing quote and what usually isn’t.
What Accurate Quotes Should Contain
Accurate conveyancing quotes generally consist of two parts: the conveyancer’s basic fee and disbursements. The conveyancer’s basic fee is the cost of your solicitor’s time, knowledge, and expertise for taking care of your transaction. The price depends on the firms, with a typical price point of £500 being the most common. Keep in mind that a high cost does not immediately translate to high-quality service, and if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of anything too cheap, as you may end up delaying the property transaction.
On the other hand, disbursements are the items your conveyancing solicitor will pay for on your behalf to third parties. They’re typically payable, regardless of whether or not your conveyancer has a ‘no move no fees’ clause. The expense of each disbursement is around the same between quotes since they are fixed charges. It’s important to note that you may run into unavoidable disbursements that you will have to purchase during the transaction. Still, your conveyancing solicitor must be transparent about these as soon as possible.
How Much You’ll Expect to Pay Your Conveyancer
If you’re selling a freehold property less than £500,000 with a mortgage, good conveyancing solicitors will cost £600 -£800. If it’s a leasehold, add £150-£400 to it. If there’s no mortgage, subtract £50 from the total price. You may run into a ‘premier league’ conveyancing service charging £1,000-£2,000, but you most likely won’t need it. If you spot a conveyancer’s basic fee of less than £500 for a freehold sale or £600 for a leasehold sale, stay away, as it is likely a scam.
Meanwhile, if you’re purchasing a freehold property less than £500,000 with a mortgage, competent conveyancing will cost £1,000-£1,500, not including stamp duty land tax or SDLT. If it’s leasehold, add £150-400 to the total price. If you’re paying with cash, subtract £100. A ‘premier league’ service will cost £1,500-£3,000, which is worth considering only if you’re purchasing a new build, leasehold, or anything extraordinary.
While these prices may be high, you’ll work with high-quality conveyancing solicitors that will protect you from investing in a property rife with problems. It’s also important to note that sound advice isn’t cheap, so it’s worth investing in a top conveyancer since they’ll give you peace of mind you can’t get anywhere else.
When to Pay the Fees
When you start instructing a conveyancer or solicitor, you must pay them an ‘upfront payment on account,’ usually £250-£500. However, it depends on the conveyancer and if the property is unregistered or leasehold. The payment covers the costs to third parties relating to disbursements like searches, purchase of official copies from HM Land Registry, and more. If your conveyancer has immediate access to funds, they’ll save you plenty of time since they won’t have to request money from you repeatedly during the transaction.
If you’re buying a property, you’ll be paying £100-£500 to your conveyancer so they can carry out your property searches. Typically, you’ll have nothing else to pay for until you exchange contracts with the seller. At this point, you’ll pay around 10 per cent of the purchase price, though the amount may change based on your unique situation. You’ll then pay the balance of the money the day before completion, including stamp duty, the balance of your conveyancer’s fees, and the land registry fee.
If you’re selling a property, you’ll pay £150-£500 on instruction, and you’ll pay the rest upon completion. Many conveyancing solicitors take out their conveyancing fees and pay the disbursements and estate agency fees from the sale proceeds upon completion.
Tips for Comparing Quotes
Unbeknownst to many buyers and sellers, some conveyancing firms invent disbursements to make a bit more money. They take tasks and charges usually covered by the conveyancer’s basic fee called ‘potential additional disbursements’ or tuck them away in the fine print. Then, they tack a high price tag on them, generating extra profit for the firm and creating the impression that the basic fee is lower than it truly is. As a result, they’ll give you a deceptively cheap conveyancing quote that quickly turns into a far more expensive estimate.
However, if you find a dirt-cheap conveyancing quote below £300, there’s a very high chance that they’ll tack on more costs down the line. They intend to trick you into believing you’re paying for a cost-efficient service.
To circumvent this, be sceptical of quotes that do not completely list down all disbursements. Most companies provide only the solicitor’s basic fee without the disbursements, making you work hard to look for a detailed cost breakdown. Before instructing them, ensure you ask for the disbursements and see an itemised list of disbursements.
You’ll also want to scrutinise the proposal for the small print, which may be hiding unexpected charges or costs. Transparent firms usually have a brief list of reasonable additional charges, but scheming firms will have a very long list to dissuade you from reading through each of them. Most of the ‘potential’ additional costs should be part of the conveyancer’s basic fee. Still, initial quotes are rarely 100 percent accurate, but the goal is to find a quote that’s as transparent as possible. It’s also important to note that the average conveyancing quote breakdown for buying a property is far longer than selling.
It’s easy to get drawn to the many cheap conveyancing quotes out there, as you’ll want to save as much money as possible when buying a property or trying to sell yours quickly. However, sneaky firms typically stuff hidden costs in many areas you can easily miss if you aren’t careful. By using our guide and scrutinising the conveyancing quotes, you’ll find an honest, top-notch conveyancing solicitor who will give you your money’s worth.
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