Are you buying or selling a property? Then you’ll need to budget for conveyancing costs. In this article, we’ll explain what conveyancing is and who can do it, plus talk through typical conveyancing fees and what they cover.
With UK average conveyancing costs coming in at between £850 and £1,500 on average, and so many providers in the market, it’s worth understanding more about conveyancing, so you can ensure great service, value for money, and no costly mistakes!
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is a legal process. Put simply, it’s the transfer of the legal title of a property from one person to another. Usually, there are two stages to the process. The first is an exchange of contracts – the point where the terms of the deal are fixed. The second is completion, where the legal title passes. The conclusion of the conveyancing process is that the buyer receives the title deeds to the property and the land it sits on. Like many things in UK law, there is a long process that must be followed to reach this point.
Do I need a solicitor or a conveyancer & what’s the difference between them?
Solicitors and conveyancers are both regulated and insured. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and many will be skilled in other areas of law, in addition to conveyancing.
Conveyancers are regulated by The Council for Licensed Conveyancers and specialise in property law.
Both are equally qualified to act as your conveyancing representative and should do a great job. We recommend you do your own research, listen to pitches, and make an informed choice.
Do I need a solicitor, or can I do conveyancing myself?
The simple answer is yes, it’s possible to do your own conveyancing, but there are many issues to consider, and it’s not something we’d recommend. The vast majority of buyers and sellers engage a qualified conveyancing professional, and for good reason. The process can involve a lot of legal and financial aspects and there’s a lot at stake if things go wrong!
What are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees are the costs of making sure the legalities of a property sale are conducted correctly. Conveyancing fees are split into two parts – the legal fees and the disbursements.
The legal fees are the solicitor’s charges for doing their work, and the disbursements are the expenses third parties charge for their services – for instance, property searches.
Some conveyancing fees apply only to buyers and some only to sellers. You can take a look at what these are in the table below.
How much conveyancing costs
Example of typical conveyancing costs – legal fees and disbursements...
How much does conveyancing cost?
The cost of conveyancing fees depends on a number of factors. Costs will vary, depending on whether you are buying or selling, whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and the value of the property. The total cost can also depend on location. If the property is near the coastline or a river, for example, you may need to pay for additional searches.
How much are conveyancing legal fees?
Conveyancing legal fees are the costs of the work undertaken by the solicitor. Typically, these range from £850 to £1500. Legal fees for leasehold properties are usually more, and detailed below. You’ll have to pay disbursements (expenses) on top of the legal fees for third party costs.
What are the typical disbursements?
- Anti-money laundering checks
This is a legal check to verify your identity, usually done online. If you're a foreign national or you live abroad, you should expect to pay extra. The cost of the check is between £6-£20.
The seller needs to get a copy of the title deeds, which are usually held at the Land Registry. The cost of getting copy deeds is £6, but a leasehold property will be more.
As a buyer, you’ll need to conduct local authority searches to check for drainage, environmental issues, and any planning developments nearby. Local authority searches usually cost between £250-£450.
The property fraud check will ensure that the lawyer you are sending the money to is a legitimate company. The fraud check costs around £10.
You have to pay the Land Registry a fee to transfer the seller’s name to the buyer’s name on completion. Transferring ownership costs £200-£300.
To guarantee funds being transferred on a specified day, you need to pay a bank transfer fee. The solicitor will charge a fee on top of the bank’s charges. Transfer fees are £20-£30.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
Stamp Duty Land Tax (often simply referred to as Stamp Duty), is a variable charge on a sliding scale dependent on the value of the property. If you are buying a property in excess of £125,000, you’ll need to pay SDLT. Currently, there is tax relief for first-time buyers. As an example, if you’re buying a property in England valued at £300,000 and you are NOT a first-time buyer, you’ll have to pay £5,000 in Stamp Duty.
If you’re buying a property with a Help to Buy scheme, you will have to pay more because of the extra legal work involved. This supplement is usually around £200-£300.
A gifted deposit is money given to a homebuyer to buy a property, equating to either some or all of the deposit. Money for a gifted deposit is given on the understanding that it doesn’t need to be repaid. As the conveyancer needs to make additional checks, such as getting official confirmation that the money you’ve received is a gift, there will usually be a small extra charge of around £50-£100.
- Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA
In this case your conveyancer will have extra work to redeem the bonus, but charges are capped at £50 + VAT.
Average UK conveyancing costs
Research in early 2021 conducted by Property Solver surveyed 100 UK conveyancing companies, and gathered conveyancing quotes for a property value less than £450,000.
The survey found that the average conveyancing fee for purchasing a UK freehold property was £899.79 (including VAT but excluding disbursement fees), and the equivalent cost for a sale was £911.35.
What are the conveyancing charges for leasehold properties?
Conveyancing fees for leasehold properties are often higher. For example, you may need to pay for a Deed of Covenant, which is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and landlord or management company about things such as carrying out repair work.
Additional work could cover getting information about management details, service charges, investigations into the length of the lease and communications with the landlord. These costs can vary widely – anywhere between £100 and £1000.
Are there any other conveyancing costs to consider?
We’ve covered the common conveyancing costs you’ll encounter, but occasionally you will need to pay other fees. If, for instance, the seller doesn’t have a FENSA or building regulation certificate for their double glazing, an insurance policy may be required.
Remortgaging conveyancing fees
If you’re in the process of remortgaging your property, you should be prepared to pay conveyancing fees as part of this process. Typical costs include early repayment charges and deed release fees.
What is fixed fee conveyancing?
With fixed fee conveyancing you have a pre-agreed cost for the service. The cost shouldn’t change during the conveyancing process. Always get clarification on whether the fixed fee element includes disbursements or is limited to legal fees only.
Fixed fee conveyancing makes budgeting easier, and has made charging hourly rates for conveyancing a rarity. No-one wants to rack up hourly solicitor fees if there are unforeseen delays!
No sale, no fee – protection if your sale falls through
Some conveyancing solicitors offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee. If your sale falls through, then you won’t have to pay the full conveyancing fee. Some solicitors may waive the legal fees if the sale doesn’t complete, but it’s a good idea to check the terms of their offer before going ahead.
When will I have to pay conveyancing fees?
When you hire a conveyancing solicitor, they may ask for a deposit of up to 10% of the conveyancing fees. The balance is usually due upon completion of the sale, although you might have to pay for things like local searches beforehand.
Do I need a conveyancing solicitor to transfer equity?
If, for example, a couple’s relationship ends and the property is transferred to one party, it’s likely they’ll need to engage a conveyancing solicitor. In this instance you can expect to pay for legal costs and things like bankruptcy searches, Land Registry searches, identification searches and transfer fees.
How can I save on conveyancing fees?
As with nearly all purchases, it’s best to shop around. Get quotes from several providers and remember to check if disbursements are included and when fees will be due. Check out reviews and testimonials of the providers that you’ve shortlisted. Be wary of very low online quotes and read the small print carefully. Often the lowest quotes are only achievable by providers running many thousands of cases concurrently, and consequently, personal service may suffer. At the end of the day, getting a great service is more valuable than saving a few pounds here and there.
How can I find a good conveyancing solicitor?
Conveyancing attracts its fair share of complaints, so it’s important to do some basic research rather than relying on cost quotations alone. Don’t automatically accept an estate agent’s recommendation before doing your own research. The agent will be earning a commission, and their recommendation won’t necessarily be the most suitable for you. Make sure that you check credentials and testimonials before accepting a quote. And, as ever when shopping online, watch out for red flags!
Find a reliable conveyancer on Rezigo
We only welcome trustworthy, reputable conveyancers to the Rezigo trade community – and it’s all thanks to our thorough vetting process.
Whether you’re buying, selling or remortgaging, click here to get conveyancing quotes to compare, straight to your inbox.