Buying or selling a property is an exciting yet complex process that involves numerous legal aspects. To ensure that everything goes smoothly, you'll need to enlist the help of a conveyancer, a legal professional who specialises in property transactions. But how much do conveyancers cost in 2023? This guide features the fees and services involved in hiring a conveyancer and what factors can influence the cost.
What are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees are the charges incurred during the legal process of transferring property ownership from one party to another. These fees cover the services provided by a conveyancer or solicitor, who handles various tasks such as conducting searches, drafting contracts and liaising with relevant parties.
What’s the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer?
A solicitor is a legal professional with broad expertise, qualified to handle various legal matters, including conveyancing. They complete a law degree, an LPC and training at a law firm.
A conveyancer, on the other hand, is a specialist in property law, focusing solely on conveyancing.
They obtain a specific qualification and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Essentially, a solicitor has a wider legal background, while a conveyancer specialises in property law. Depending on the transaction's complexity, either a solicitor or a conveyancer can be chosen for the process.
What is the average conveyancing cost in the UK for buyers?
On average, conveyancing fees for buyers in the UK are approximately £850 - £1,500 with disbursements. According to a 2022 Law Society study, averages are based on the conveyancing cost for a property valued at £250,000.
Sellers can expect to pay between £650 and £1,000. Conveyancing fees are generally lower for sellers because the legal work involved in selling a property is often less complicated than that required for purchasing a property.
Remember that the price of conveyancing can differ based on the property's value, the transaction's complexity and location. For instance, London typically has higher conveyancing costs compared to other regions in the UK.
Understanding conveyancing fees
Conveyancing fees can be broken down into two main components: the conveyancer's professional fees and disbursements. Professional fees are the charges for the solicitor or conveyancer's time and expertise, while disbursements are the expenses they incur while working on your behalf, such as search fees and Land Registry fees.
The professional fees charged by conveyancers can vary depending on the transaction's complexity, the conveyancer's experience and the property's location. Some conveyancers charge a fixed fee, while others charge a percentage of the property's value. Always clarify the fee structure with your conveyancer before proceeding.
Disbursements are the additional costs associated with the conveyancing process, which your conveyancer will pay on your behalf. These can include:
- Your conveyancer will carry out various searches to gather information about the property and its surroundings. These can include local authority searches, environmental searches and water and drainage searches. The cost of searches can vary, but you can typically expect to pay between £200 and £300.
- Land Registry fees. When you buy a property, you'll need to register the change of ownership with the Land Registry. The fees for this service depend on the property's value and can range from £20 for properties valued under £80,000 to £455 for properties valued over £1,000,000.
- Bank transfer fees. If you're buying a property with a mortgage, your conveyancer will need to transfer the funds to the seller's solicitor on completion day. Bank transfer fees vary but usually cost around £20 to £30.
- Title deeds. When selling a property, acquiring a copy of the Title Deeds is necessary, as they are stored at the Land Registry. Keep in mind that leasehold properties incur higher costs than freehold ones. The fee for obtaining title deeds stands at £6.
- Property fraud. It's crucial to verify that the solicitor you're transferring money to represents a legitimate company. Property fraud checks cost £10.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). If you're purchasing a property, you may be required to pay SDLT, a tax on property purchases in England and Northern Ireland. The amount of SDLT you'll need to pay depends on the property's value and your circumstances, such as whether you're a first-time buyer or purchasing an additional property. Your conveyancer can help you calculate and pay the correct amount of SDLT.
There may also be some other fees you’ll need to consider depending on the type of property and how you purchase it. These may include:
Help to Buy Surcharge
When purchasing through a Help to Buy scheme, expect to incur additional charges due to the extra legal work involved. The typical cost for this supplement ranges from £200 to £300.
When receiving assistance with your deposit, additional charges for processing paperwork to verify the legitimacy of the funds may apply. Law firms can charge up to £100 if your deposit comes from the Bank of Mum and Dad. Additionally, insurance may be offered at a cost of up to £200, but carefully consider how necessary it is.
Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA
Conveyancers will handle additional tasks when redeeming the Lifetime or Help to Buy ISA bonus, but fees are limited to £50+ VAT.
Unregistered Property Supplement Fee
Although most properties are registered with the HM Land Registry, some aren't. Handling an unregistered property entails more work for the conveyancer, resulting in an added cost of £120-£240.
Are there higher charges for leasehold properties?
Conveyancing fees for leasehold properties tend to be higher due to additional costs. You can expect to pay about £300 more in legal fees, and there might be a requirement for a Deed of Covenant, a legal agreement between the buyer and landlord or management company regarding matters like repair work.
Extra tasks may involve further investigations into the lease's duration and communicating with the landlord to serve notices on them or their managing agent. Sellers are responsible for the Leasehold Management Pack, which includes information about service charges. The cost for this can range from £300 to as much as £800.
You'll also need to cover the cost of a Notice of Assignment or Notice of Transfer. This document, sent by your conveyancer to the landlord, informs them of the new ownership. While some management firms don't charge for this, others may charge up to £300.
What factors influence conveyancing costs?
The type of property you're buying or selling can impact the complexity of the conveyancing process and, thus, the cost. For instance, leasehold properties often require more work, as the conveyancer needs to review the lease terms and liaise with the freeholder. Consequently, conveyancing fees for leasehold properties can be higher than for freehold properties.
As mentioned earlier, some conveyancers charge a percentage of the property's value as their professional fees. In this case, the cost of conveyancing will be higher for more expensive properties.
The location of the property can also impact conveyancing costs. Properties in areas with known environmental or planning issues may require additional searches, resulting in higher disbursement fees.
If your transaction requires additional services, such as drafting a declaration of trust or negotiating a lease extension, your conveyancer may charge additional fees for these services.
Do I need a conveyancer if I’m remortgaging?
Although remortgaging is typically less complex than buying or selling a property, there are still legal procedures to follow, such as updating the mortgage deed, ensuring the title is clear and registering the new mortgage with the Land Registry.
Using a conveyancer or solicitor helps the process run smoothly and efficiently, minimising any risks or delays in the transaction. Some mortgage lenders may also require that you use a legal professional for remortgaging.
How to find the right conveyancer at the right price
Don't settle for the first conveyancer you come across. Instead, gather quotes from multiple conveyancers and compare their fees and services (more on that shortly). Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best, so it's important to weigh the cost against the quality of service. Shopping around can be done quickly and easily by using a platform such as Rezigo, where there are hundreds of idependent conveyancers, all across the UK ready to quote on your job. Click here to get free quotes.
Ask for recommendations
Friends, family members or colleagues who have recently bought or sold properties can be a valuable source of information. Ask them about their experiences with conveyancers and if they would recommend anyone in particular.
Check qualifications and experience
Make sure the conveyancer you choose is fully qualified and has experience handling transactions similar to yours. Look for conveyancers who are members of professional bodies such as the Law Society or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, as this demonstrates that they adhere to high professional standards.
Online reviews can provide insight into the experiences of other clients with a particular conveyancer. A pattern of positive or negative feedback can be a helpful indicator of the quality of service you can expect.
Get a detailed quote
When you request a quote from a conveyancer, ask for a detailed breakdown of their fees and disbursements. This will help you understand what you're paying for and make it easier to compare quotes from different conveyancers.
Don't be afraid to negotiate
If you find a conveyancer you like, but their fees are higher than you expected, try negotiating with them. They may be willing to lower their fees or offer a discount to secure your business.
Summary: Paying the right cost
The cost of conveyancing can vary depending on several factors, including the property type, value, location, and additional services required. By shopping around, seeking recommendations, and comparing quotes, you can find the right conveyancer at the right price for your property transaction. Keep in mind that a good conveyancer can save you time, money, and potential legal headaches, so it's worth investing in the right professional to guide you through the process.
Find a reliable conveyancer on Rezigo
At Rezigo, we pride ourselves on fostering a community of reliable and reputable conveyancers, all thanks to our rigorous vetting process.
If you're in the process of buying, selling, or remortgaging, click here to receive a selection of conveyancing quotes for comparison, delivered directly to your inbox.