Updated: October 12, 2018

Westminster conveyancing solicitor fees and costs

No Move, No Fee conveyancing in Westminster

Conveyancing solicitor fees are the amounts you pay your Westminster conveyancing solicitor for carrying out the legal work for a property transaction.

How are Westminster conveyancing fees calculated?

Our conveyancers work on a guaranteed fixed conveyancing fee basis with no hidden costs, unlike some other conveyancing solicitors in Westminster who carry out the legal work on a fees per hour basis. Your conveyancing quote will set out all fees and disbursements you will need to pay when your sale or purchase goes through.

Are there any other costs?

You will need to budget for 'disbursements', in addition to conveyancing solicitor fees.

Disbursements are the costs and expenses a solicitor needs to pay out on behalf of a client, such as managing agent fees or Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).

See: Complete list of conveyancing fees

How much will conveyancing in Westminster cost in total?

While conveyancing fees in Westminster will be the same as anywhere else in the country, the disbursements required can vary. For example, council search fees will vary and specific extra searches, e.g. a historic mining search, may be necessary.

For a standard conveyancing transaction, the conveyancing fee we quote is the fee you pay. There are no hidden fees or nasty surprises with Quittance. Work out the conveyancing fees for your move, with our conveyancing calculator: Click here

Quittance's fees were cheaper - less than half the Estate Agent's recommended solicitor's fees

Conveyancing - Buying a property in Westminster

Probably the best-known area of the capital, the City of Westminster is an Inner London borough covering much of central London north of the Thames. Between the iconic buildings are quiet residential streets, where average house prices are the highest in the UK at over £2m and population density is high. However, within this, the most vibrant place to live in the world, are many large parks and open spaces.

Many global companies are headquartered in the district, with a large number of financial companies clustered in Mayfair.

Proximity to the theatre and culture also makes the borough attractive to performing arts businesses and creative and media companies.

Conveyancing for purchasers

Caveat emptor, meaning 'let the buyer beware', was a fundamental principle of property law in England and Wales. After the introduction of the Consumer Trading Regulations (CPR), this rule no longer applies. However, it is still the duty of a buyer's solicitor to investigate their intended purchase.

A Westminster conveyancing solicitor will give advice after making their enquiries, deal with any legal issues and ensure the title is transferred to the new owner.

The content below discusses the kinds of property which may involve extra hazards for homebuyers who want conveyancing solicitors in Westminster.

Your Westminster conveyancing solicitor must be lender-approved

Whether you are obtaining a mortgage from Coutts Finance, the HSBC or any other lender, before appointing a conveyancing solicitor in Westminster it is essential that you check that they can act for your chosen lender.

Some mortgage lenders will only accept a selected list (known as a 'lender panel') of legal practices that pass strict selection criteria. If a conveyancer is unable to act for your chosen lender, the lender will need an alternative legal firm to complete the legal work.

The home buyer will be expected to pay this alternate solicitor's costs and the conveyancing process could take much longer.

Failing to check your solicitor's lender panel status can frustrate the process.

Quittance Conveyancing can act for all lenders.

Property Searches (City of Westminster Council)

Property searches (sometimes referred to as 'conveyancing searches') are enquiries made of government bodies by Westminster conveyancing solicitors to give details about the home you want to buy.

Lenders also need certain searches to be submitted. Required searches will include:

  • Local Authority search - planning and development details from City of Westminster Council records
  • Drainage & Water search - includes the position of water mains and sewers, and whether the local authority is responsible for their maintenance.
  • Environmental search - shows whether the surrounding environment is suitable for the purchaser
  • Chancel repair liability - insurance is arranged to protect the buyer against any liability for local parish church repairs.

Your solicitor will notify you if your lender wants any further searches, such as a radon gas search or an agricultural search.

Buyers could experience a delay of approximately 5 weeks for Residential property searches provided by City of Westminster Council. Your conveyancer will recommend using a faster search agent.

Checking planning permission status

The buyer's conveyancing solicitor will obtain the Title Register from the Land Registry, helping to identify any issues. Examples of these include rights or restrictions on how the property may be used or discrepancies with the filed plan.

City of Westminster Council Council Tax

City of Westminster Council calculate council tax on Westminster homes based on the number of occupants and the historic value of the property (as valued at 1 April 1991). The occupier of a property in Band B, for example, would owe annual council tax of £553.

Conveyancing solicitors in Westminster will inform a buyer of the property's tax band as soon as they are notified.

If the property is unoccupied for 2 years or more, an additional premium of 50% may be applied to the council tax. Single person discount reduces the tax due to 75% which would equal £414.

Other discounts and exemptions may also apply, for example a 10% discount for second homes or where an occupation is prohibited by law such as a compulsory purchase order.

Band City of Westminster Council Tax (2018)
A £474
B £553
C £632
D £711
E £868
F £1,026
G £1,184
H £1,421

Can I appeal against my band?

To appeal contact:

Valuation Office Agency
Wingate House
93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue
London
W1D 5BU

The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) should reassess a property's band on request.

Stamp Duty on Westminster properties

SDLT is only applicable to homes where the purchase price exceeds £125,000. It is the responsibility of the buyer's conveyancing solicitor to handle the tax return process for the purchase.

Our post-completion conveyancing team use state-of-the-art case management system to ensure the SDLT1 tax return is submitted to HMRC (formerly Inland Revenue) as quickly as possible.

This table sets out SDLT for average property in London:

  Average selling price (2017) SDLT
Average price £1,028,020 £46,552.00
Average price (detached) £1,209,120 £64,662.00
Average new build £854,797 £32,739.85
Since 1st April 2016, buyers of second homes are subject to a stamp duty surcharge of 3%, even if the property is not rented out. So if a second home was bought for £1,028,020 then the SDLT total will be £133,642.60.

Stamp duty relief for first-time buyers in Westminster

Since the budget announcement in 2017, if you are a first-time buyer, you only pay stamp duty on property valued at over £300,000 with reduced rates up to £500,000.

Conveyancing solicitors in Westminster should confirm the correct tax is paid.

Buying a flat? Leasehold conveyancing in Westminster

New build site

The drawbacks associated with buying a leasehold property are a source of concern for leasehold property purchasers. The many potential complications lying in wait for an uninformed buyer can include:

  • onerous covenants
  • doubling ground rents
  • sinking fund issues
Serious consequences can result from an inexperienced property lawyer's erroneous leasehold advice.

A expert conveyancing solicitor in Westminster will consider possible leasehold issues, for example :

  • understanding regional and era-specific nuances of leases
  • managing agent or landlord enquiries
  • service charges for relevant date periods
  • short leases
  • ground rent apportionments

Ensure that you are fully-informed regarding your planned purchase - Call Quittance Conveyancing's leasehold conveyancing solicitor team on 0800 612 0377 today.

Buying a 'New Build' property in Westminster?

New build site

450 brand new properties have been bought in Westminster in 2018 so far, based on information from the Land Registry. The average value of Westminster new build properties is £449,784.

A new-build conveyancing solicitor in Westminster will need to be aware of Westminster-specific issues and new build's additional complexities, e.g. handling the uncertainties of buying off plan and dealing with incomplete service connection agreements.

With Quittance Conveyancing, you will get an independent appraisal of the legal title of the property, with a close eye on considerations ranging from the home's subsequent mortgageability to possible freehold acquisition traps.

Conservation areas

If you are planning to buy a home in a conservation area in Westminster, the property will need to meet any conservation area building controls. These conditions can include:

  • A prohibition on the removal of chimneys
  • Restrictions on hard standings at the front of the property
  • A prohibition on side or two-storey extensions

The new owner could be ordered to pay for necessary changes to bring a property in line with current regulations, even if the previous owner was responsible for the changes.

Quittance's conveyancing solicitors will address whether the home you plan to buy is located in a conservation area in Westminster.

Conveyancing - Selling a property in Westminster

The legal side of a property sale is less demanding than for a purchase. During the sale of a house or flat, the onus is on the buyer to validate that the property they are buying is not legally defective.

On the other hand, when selling, conveyancing solicitors in Westminster acting for the existing owner for the most part just answer the buyer's solicitor's questions.

What could put the sale of your property at risk?

Frequently occurring issues, such as a boundary dispute, might prolong your move if left unresolved.

It is usually advisable for vendors to address any such problems immediately.

Recommended reading:

Read more conveyancing advice for sellers.

Selling a leasehold property

The conveyancing process for a leasehold flat (leasehold houses are not common) is quite a lot more time-consuming compared to a freehold house.

Westminster conveyancing solicitors will also carry out additional work, including applying for a completed copy of the Leasehold Property Enquiry Form, through to reserve fund details.

To accelerate the handling of the leasehold work, it is recommended that the seller instructs leasehold-specialist property lawyer as soon as the decision is made to sell.

What if Quittance is already acting for the other side?

Conveyancers regulated by the CLC can act for both parties. However, Solicitors Regulation Authority rules ban a single conveyancing solicitor from working on behalf of both sides in a house sale and purchase.

If you are buying or selling a property in Westminster, and a Quittance conveyancer is acting for the other side, you may want to instruct a property solicitor firm in Westminster to undertake your legal work.

Local Westminster conveyancing solicitor directory

  • The Legal Office of The National Institutions of The Church of England, Church House, Great Smith Street, London, Westminster, SW1P 3AZ

Conveyancing - Remortgaging a property in Westminster

Saving money on a lower interest rate is primarily why homeowners opt to remortgage. There are other reasons, such as extending the mortgage term, or moving to an offset mortgage.

Homeowners would typically benefit from a lower rate sooner with a more efficient conveyancing solicitor in Westminster, minimising the time taken to complete the conveyancing. With the base rate now at 0.5% (May 2018) and rate rises anticipated, fast conveyancing can be a critical factor in securing your preferred rate.

It is vitally important that your property lawyer can act on behalf of the new lender. Quittance Conveyancing are panel members of all major banks and building societies, so whether you are moving to a lifetime tracker mortgage with the Nationwide Building Society or to a repayment mortgage with the Skipton Building Society, our remortgage specialists can help.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

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