What you need to know about conveyancing quotes
Obtaining a conveyancing quote is relatively simple - but understanding what is and isn't included can be a little more complicated.
Here we explain clearly how to 'read between the lines' of a solicitor quote and avoid paying more than you should.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process involved in transferring ownership of the property from one person to another. Conveyancing is carried out by a conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer.
How to get a conveyancing quote
You will need to see the quote in writing for the following reasons:
- To understand exactly what is and isn’t included in the quote
- To understand what the solicitor considers to be additional chargeable work
- To be able to read the terms and conditions (which often include additional fees)
- For it to be legally valid
What should a conveyancing quote include?
Conveyancing is a complex process with many moving parts. As a result there is a lot of variation between solicitors, in what they consider to be part of the standard conveyancing process.
Conveyancing quotes for buying a home
A conveyancing quote for a homebuyer should include all of the legal work required to investigate the legal title of the property, report back to the client, transfer ownership to the new owner and carry out the registration formalities with HM land registry.
Sometimes there are elements of the legal work that one solicitor would include as part of the process, where another solicitor would charge extra.
Examples of typical additional fees charged by some solicitors are:
- Stamp duty land tax form fee
- Deed of assignment
- Arranging an indemnity policy
- Exchanging contracts within a week of completion
There are numerous other examples of potentially additional costs. See our complete list here.
The key point is to read the terms and conditions accompanying the quote carefully. This way you know exactly what, if any, the additional fees will be.
Conveyancing quotes for selling a home
A conveyancing quote for a home seller should include all of the legal work required to collate all necessary information, prepare the contract of sale, reply to the buyer's solicitor's enquiries and carry out the transfer of legal ownership to the buyer.
As with conveyancing for homebuyers, there are any number of the potential additional fees.
Again the key point is to read the terms and conditions carefully.
In addition to the legal fees paid to your solicitor, you will also have to pay ‘disbursements’.
Disbursements are third party costs incurred by the solicitor on your behalf.
Examples of disbursements are:
- Stamp duty land tax (SDLT)
- Land registry fees
Disbursements should be passed on to you at cost and not marked up by the solicitor. Disbursements should therefore be the same no matter which conveyancing solicitor you choose.
With some firms, could I end up paying more than appears on the quote?
Yes. Some solicitors add additional fees that should be included as part of a standard conveyancing transaction.
For unwary clients of some solicitors, their final conveyancing bill could come as a shock. It could be £100's more than the original quote.
It is recommended that you choose a solicitor that provides a guaranteed fixed fee quote.
Even if the quote claims to be guaranteed fixed fee, you should still confirm what is and is not included in the quoted conveyancing fees. It may be that the solicitor has listed "extras" in the small print that really should be included in the upfront fee.
When is a quote not a quote?
When it's an estimate. Some firms do not give a true, fixed fee quote.
If your quote says that the fees may vary, depending on the amount of work required, then it is not a quote - it is an estimate.
This is an important point. Legally speaking, an 'estimate' cannot be described as a quote. If you find yourself being charged substantially more that appeared on your quote, you can bring this to the attention of the Legal Ombudsman.
Fixed fee conveyancing quotes
Some solicitors still carry out conveyancing on an hourly rate basis. This means that you have no idea how much you will end up paying in legal fees.
This is an old-fashioned approach to conveyancing and solicitors working on an hourly rate tend to be less competitive.
The cost of moving home has never been higher and it is critical that you are able to budget accurately from the outset.
No Move No Fee
Many solicitors offer a no Move no fee service. This means that if your purchase or sale does not complete, you should not incur any legal fees.
You will still have to pay for disbursements If the solicitor has already made payments on your behalf.
You should read any associated conditions of the no move no fee service to make sure there is no catch.
How to compare conveyancing quotes
Differences between what's included as well as varying service levels make comparing conveyancing quotes a tricky exercise.
Comparison sites can be useful, however due to the complex nature conveyancing, comparison sites frequently offer too little detail.
Once a client has instructed a firm through the comparison site, the client is are often surprised by the terms and conditions which add a substantial amount to the original quote.
Get a conveyancing quote
Quittance offer a guaranteed fixed fee conveyancing service that aims to deliver a stress free moving experience. In particular we focus on proactive communication as this can help drive a purchase or sale forwards to speedy completion.
To get a conveyancing quote please use the conveyancing fees calculator below.