How much should conveyancing fees cost in 2018?

2018 market research reveals the pitfalls when comparing conveyancing quotes. Find out what you should be paying - don't get stung by hidden costs.

Man and woman comparing conveyancing quotes

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How much should I be paying for buying a property?

How much should I be paying for selling a property?

Are there any hidden Fees?

How to (properly) compare conveyancing quotes

To compare conveyancing solicitors' fees you must consider both the legal fees and any additional fees in the 'small print'. Even then, picking the cheapest quote may be a false economy, as service levels vary significantly between law firms. To choose the best conveyancer for your move, therefore, you should also consider the level of service being offered by the solicitor.

Average conveyancing fees - Updated 2018

Following extensive market research carried out in March 2018, we look at a breakdown of a typical 2018 conveyancing quote. For each fee listed in a quote, we explain what the fee relates to and set out the range you can expect to pay.

We also offer tips on how to avoid getting caught out by extra costs that could mean you end up paying more than you expected.

How to compare "apples with apples"?

Choosing the cheapest solicitor can end up costing you more.

Service levels vary considerably between solicitors. Some solicitors offer a proactive service employing the latest technology, while others are more 'old fashioned' and work at a slower pace.

There is a correlation between slow conveyancing and an increased chance that the sale or purchase will fall through. Choose the wrong firm and any saving in conveyancing fees will pale in comparison to the cost of losing your new home or buyer.

When comparing quotes, make sure you consider service levels as well as fees.

Some firms provide direct contact details for clients' conveyancers, correspond by phone and email, and offer online case tracking. Some "more traditional" solicitors will dictate letters to their secretary, and may be difficult to contact by email or phone.

Tip: When comparing quotes, make sure you consider service levels as well as fees. 

When is a quote not a quote?

Answer: When it's really an estimate.

A 'quote' is defined as an offer to do a job at a given price and as such, cannot vary from the given scope of the work.

An 'estimate' is just that, and constitutes a rough idea of what the job will cost. This means that you could end up paying more than the estimate suggests.

Tip: Choose a solicitor offering fixed fees, rather than an open-ended estimate, as solicitors fees can range from £200 to £350 per hour!

Is the quote “No Move, No Fee”?

Many firms now work on a No Move, No Fee basis. If your purchase or sale falls through, No Move, No Fee means that you will be spared the expense of legal fees.

Tip: Don't assume that the quote is No Move, No Fee - make sure the quote states explicitly that it is.

Are there any hidden Fees?

No two conveyancing transactions are the same. Some are relatively straightforward - others can be more involved, and most conveyancing transactions will require some additional work on the part of the solicitor. If you have received a quote, the solicitor should not charge any additional fees for any work that falls within the agreed scope of 'standard' conveyancing.

Nevertheless, some solicitors hide additional fees in their terms and conditions for work that should be 'standard' - so much so that the Law Society has introduced measures to address the problem.

“Potentially misleading cost information may also arise where additional charges are later 'bolted on', or where items are referred to as 'disbursements' when they are not.”

- The Law Society

What is the difference between Fees and Disbursements?

'Disbursements' is a peculiarly legal word. It refers to third party costs incurred on your behalf by the solicitor. These costs are then passed on to you. Examples of disbursements are Office Copies and ID verification. The regulators (the SRA and CLC) do not permit solicitors and conveyancers to 'mark up' these costs, so they must not charge you more than the cost to the firm.

Fees are the amounts you pay directly to your solicitor for the legal work carried out on your behalf.

Conveyancing quotes must show a clear breakdown of both the legal fees and disbursements.

How to compare conveyancing fees for buying a property

How much should I be paying for buying a property?

2018 Conveyancing Fees and Disbursements*

Range

Purchase legal fee

£400 to £1,500

TT Fee

£15 to 45

Lawyer Verification

£7.50 to £12

SDLT1 form fee

£20 to £50

Leasehold supplement £100 to £350

Acting for the mortgage fee

£30 to £75

Land Registry searches

£3+

*according to market research carried out in March 2018.

Purchase legal fee

This is the sum paid to the solicitor for the conveyancing legal work itself. Be aware that solicitors will usually charge extra fees for services considered beyond that of a standard transaction.

Legal fees range from around £400 to £1,500 - Care must be taken to understand what is actually included in this headline fee.

ID fee

To comply with money laundering regulations and lender requirements, property lawyers are required to confirm the identity of each person buying and selling the property. ID checks can usually be completed online through third party providers. This ID verification process will only need to happen once per person - so you should not be charged this fee for both the sale and the purchase.

Costs vary from £2 to £15 per person.

Telegraphic Transfer or 'TT' fee

When buying a property your solicitor will transfer the purchase funds electronically to ensure that the funds arrive in the seller's solicitors account on the completion date. The mortgage lender will also insist on the electronic transfer of funds.

TT Fees range from £15 to £45

Fraud prevention checks (lawyer verification)

Increasingly used by solicitors, anti-fraud checks such as 'Lawyer Checker' confirm the identity and bank account details of the seller's solicitor. Fraud prevention checks should now be standard procedure for lawyers. The nominal cost is a small price to pay for the level of security it offers home buyers.

Anti-fraud checks should cost the client £7.50 to £12.

Stamp Duty (SDLT) form fee

Not to be confused with Stamp Duty Land Tax itself, the SDLT form fee is the amount the solicitor charges for completing the SDLT1 form and submitting it to HMRC on behalf of the buyer.

Since the SDLT1 form must be completed on every purchase (even if no Stamp Duty is due) the cost of completing the form should either be included in the legal fee or explicitly set out on the quote.

SDLT1 fees range from £20 to £50.

Leasehold supplement

The legal work involved in buying a leasehold property is significantly more technical and time consuming than the work required to buy a freehold property. Legal documents such as the managing agent pack and the lease itself must all be reviewed by the solicitor. Conveyancing solicitors usually charge a 'supplement' to cover this additional work.

Leasehold supplements range from £100 to £350.

Acting for lender fees/Mortgage fees

When acting for a buyer who is taking out a mortgage, the conveyancer must also act in the interests of the mortgage lender. The solicitor will need to ensure that the lending criteria are met and that the lender's interests are protected.

The acting for lender fee will range from £30 to £75.

Bankruptcy search fees

The Bankruptcy Search (K16) is a pre-completion search required by the lender. The search is carried out in order to ascertain whether the buyer is bankrupt or is in the bankruptcy process.

The bankruptcy search should cost £2.

Land Registry searches

These searches include the Title Register and Title Plan. The Title Register confirms that that seller is the legal owner the property, as well as confirming other issues such as whether any third party has a charge over the property. The Title Plan sets out the boundaries of the property, land included in the title, and shared maintenance responsibilities (such as for shared walls) referred to in the deeds.

The Title Register and Title Plan each cost £3 when ordered online directly from the Land Registry. Significant additional costs could be charged if further supporting documents must be sourced by the solicitor. Some firms offer a capped maximum fee that covers the cost of all required documents.

Searches (search packs, local authority searches and others)

Searches are enquiries made of various authorities about the property and the area in which it is located.

A buyer's mortgage lender will require their solicitor to carry out local authority, drainage and water, and environmental searches. These searches should be included in the conveyancing quote's 'search pack' cost. If you are not getting a mortgage, you may not necessarily need searches. Ask your solicitor if you actually need to have them.

Search pack fees vary from £189 to £375. Further searches may be required, depending on what the standard searches reveal during the conveyancing process.

Tip: Search Guarantee - Some solicitors offer a free second set of searches if the first purchase does not complete.

Case Management Fee

Some firms charge additional fees as a contribution to the administration of their internal IT systems or for online file access. Ideally, this cost should be included as part of the headline legal fee. If not, the fee should at least be explicitly set out in the quote.

Fees vary from no charge (£0) to £29 per case.

HM Land Registry registration (disbursement)

The Land Registry is the official government body that registers ownership of property and land in England and Wales. When a property changes hands, a fee is charged by the Land Registry to update the register. The fee will depend on the purchase price of the property, as follows:

Purchase Price

Registered by post

Registered online

0 to £80,000

40

20

£80,001 to £100,000

80

40

£100,001 to £200,000

190

95

£200,001 to £500,000

270

135

£500,001 to £1m

540

270

£1m plus

910

455

If the property is a new build there is an added fee of £15 pounds.

Tip: If the solicitor is charging you the more expensive postal rate, it suggests he is working in an inefficient manner. The online registration method is quicker, cheaper and safer.

See how we compare - Get a conveyancing quote from Quittance

How to compare conveyancing fees for selling a property

How much should I be paying for selling a property?

2018 Conveyancing Fees and Disbursements*

Range

Sale legal fee

£350 to £1250

TT Fee

£15 to £45

Mortgage fee

£20 to £125

Leasehold supplement

£95 to £225

Office Copies (and associated documents)

£3 to £100+

Sale legal fee

This is the sum paid to the solicitor for the sale conveyancing legal work itself. As the sale process requires less work and exposes the solicitor to less risk, fees are marginally lower than for purchase conveyancing.

Sale legal fees range from £350 to £1250 - Care must be taken to understand what is actually included in this headline fee.

Mortgage fee

If there is a mortgage on the property being sold, this fee is charged by the solicitor for handling the formalities of redeeming the mortgage and releasing the lender's charge over the property. This fee may be included as part of the legal fee or it may be itemised separately.

Fees range from £20 to £125.

Leasehold supplement

When acting on the sale of a leasehold property, the seller's solicitor will be required to collate all documentation relating to the leasehold and answer all enquiries raised by the buyer's solicitor. This represents considerably more work than for the sale of a freehold property, and a supplement for this additional work is normally charged.

Fees ranged from £95 to £225.

Telegraphic Transfer or 'TT' fee

The TT (bank transfer) fee is the fee charged for sending the sale proceeds electronically to the seller. If the property being sold has a mortgage, the lender will require that their share of the proceeds is wired electronically.

TT fees range from £15 to £45. Note that there may be more than one TT fee per transaction.

Tip: If you are happy to wait for your share of the sale proceeds you could request payment by cheque and save the cost of the TT fee.

Office Copies

The solicitor will obtain formal title documents from the land registry called “Official Copy of Register of Title” or 'official entries' or 'office copies' for short. These documents will show whether the seller is actually the owner of the property and whether any other party has an interest in the property. Office Copies can also refer to any additional titles relating to the property and any rights, restrictions or covenants governing how the property is used.

The actual office copy document should cost £3 if ordered online, or £7 by post. However, the solicitor will also need to obtain all other documents associated with the title, such as additional titles, the lease and any rights and restrictions. The cost of additional and non-standard documents can, in some cases, add up to over £100.

Tip: Look for a solicitor that offers a fixed cap for the cost of these additional documents.

See how we compare - Get a conveyancing quote from Quittance

Conclusion

When comparing conveyancing quotes to find the 'best deal' and choose a conveyancer, you will need to do more than simply pick the cheapest quote.

Cheap headline legal fees may mean that additional costs are hiding in the small print. In addition, some firms may present a lower “legal fee”, with mortgage and other fees listed separately, and other firms may bundle all of these into a single, larger fee on their quote.

Some firms blur the line between fees and disbursements, and to compare similarly named fees and costs, you will need to check what each item actually includes. For example, a seemingly cheaper search pack offered by one solicitor may not include the same searches as that offered by another firm.

With a little work, it is possible to compare quotes to ensure that you know:

  • what is included in the quote and what is not
  • what you will end up paying
  • whether the quote contains any warning signs of hidden or unnecessary fees (e.g. case management fee)
  • whether the quote indicates a slow, inefficient service (e.g. postal registration)

See how we compare - Get a conveyancing quote from Quittance