Conveyancing (the legal process of transferring property ownership from one person to another) is a necessary process when making a property purchase, there are no two ways about it. But how do you go about choosing a conveyancing solicitor and comparing the services they offer, never mind assessing what you are getting for your money. We must also stress the importance of instructing a conveyancing solicitor as early on as possible
When choosing a service provider in this day and age, the internet is most likely going to be your first port of call when making a comparison. It is probable that your energy provider/ car insurer and internet provider were all compared online and chosen from a select few, so it stands to sense that you would do the same when it comes to your selection of conveyancer. What is certain is that you should shop around for quotes and choose a conveyancer that will suit your needs first and foremost.
About Your Quote
Due to transparency regulations your conveyancing quote will be made up of different parts. We will outline these for you here.
The term ‘basic fees’ refers to the flat cost of your solicitor’s time and knowledge. Bear in mind fees do not automatically reflect quality and/or level of service. Conveyancing can vary a great deal as you will find out but will typically be between £850-£1500.
Disbursements are payments for items your conveyancing solicitor will have to pay for on your behalf. These third party payments are usually due irrespective of whether or not your conveyancer offers a ‘no move no fee‘ service (which we will cover shortly). Disbursements should be roughly the same from one conveyancing quote to the next.
More unscrupulous firms have been known to invent disbursements. They take tasks and charges that should be included in the basic fee and charge a large fee for them.
Disbursements may include (with approximate costs):
- ID Check (£6 – £20) +VAT. This check is necessary to meet Money Laundering Regulations. your conveyancer must get proof of your identity. The process (and cost) can differ between conveyancing companies. Some may use third party identity verification services while others will perform online ID checks using Equifax.
- Bank TT Fees (£20 – £50) +VAT. Telegraphic Transfer fees (TT fees) are charged by a bank or building society when transferring sums of money larger than £60,000. For smaller amounts the money can be sent free via the Bank Automated Clearing System (BACS). (If you have a mortgage to redeem then another TT fee will need to be paid).
- Land Registry Office / Official Copies (£6 – £24) no VAT. The ‘pre contract pack’ that was sent to the buyer’s conveyancer at the start of the transaction which included up to date official copies of the freehold Title Register and filed Title Plan held at HM Land Registry, are known as ‘Office Copy Entries’. These documents are proof of ownership and detail any ‘Legal Charges’ or ‘Notices’ registered against the title.
- Mortgaged Property Supplement Fee (£50 – £150) +VAT. On a mortgaged property your conveyancer will have additional work liaising with your lender and processing the redemption of your mortgage. This extra work will be reflected in the quote.
- Unregistered Property Supplement Fee (£100 – £200) +VAT. Most properties are ‘registered’ with HM Land Registry. Others that appear on the ‘conveyance of unregistered property’ require extra work because a physical copy of the title deeds will need to be located or if lost as evidence for the Land Registry to prove your ownership.
- Leasehold Property Supplement Fee (£100 – £200) + VAT. If you are buying or selling a leasehold property some conveyancers increase their basic fee as the process is more complicated and time consuming.
- Official Copies of Title & Lease (£6 – £12) no VAT. For leasehold properties, official copies of the leasehold and freehold title must both be produced and those relating to any intermediary landlords.
- Managing Agents Pack (£150 – £300) +VAT. If the property is leasehold the buyer will receive a Managing Agent’s pack.This contains information about the property, service charges, ground rent, major works, etc.
- Leasehold Management Information Pack (£150 – £500) +VAT. Again, if the property is leasehold, this information pack is needed from the freeholder or managing agent. It details things such as the ground rent payable, any service charges, information about upcoming major works which leaseholders might be expected to contribute to. It should also include the management company’s accounts for the last three years.
- Indemnity Policies (£20 – £300) +VAT. Depending on the searches, the buyer may require the seller to purchase an insurance policy to protect them from future liability.
Types of Quote
No Sale No Fee
If for whatever reason your property purchase or house sale does not happen, you will not be responsible for paying any legal fees. The only charge will be third party costs which have already been incurred.
When looking into no sale no fee solicitors be sure to check the disbursement costs. Occasionally they can be hidden and you could be charged with some extras you weren’t expecting.
Fixed Fee Conveyancing
Fixed fee conveyancing solicitors a ‘fixed’ price which will remain the same throughout the process. This does not include the price of disbursements (see above) though these should appear in the quote also. Just bear in mind other disbursements can arise as the process goes on.
Fixed fee quotes allow you to budget effectively and should mean no hidden charges at the end. It also allows you to query any costs up front before it is too late and you are committed to paying for things you are not sure of.
Fixed fee conveyancing is the most common way of charging customers for their services these days. Do beware of any small print though, especially if the quote seems particularly low.
When it comes to conveyancing quotes that seem particularly cheap, it is worth taking a closer look to see if there is anything that seems suspicious.
Often, extremely cheap quotes are given out by companies that take on a very high volume of cases. This could mean that you are one of hundreds of cases being processed at the same time which can mean slow turn over and a lack of personal contact. Problems are less likely to be dealt with in an efficient manner and the cost might not be set in stone.
In general, it would be wise to be suspicious of companies offering extremely low prices for conveyancing services.
Let us finish up by making a few short points about how to make the most effective online search for the best conveyancing solicitor for you.
• Your mortgage broker, lender or estate agent may be able to recommend a solicitor.
• Check that any recommended solicitor is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales
The cost of a good solicitor will vary, but always ask to see a full breakdown of fees so you can compare quotes like for like.
If possible negotiate a fixed no sale, no fee agreement so you don’t pay out if the sale falls through.
• Don’t make your decision purely on cost as any mistakes in the conveyancing process can cost you later on.
• Good local knowledge – only really important if the sale includes leases or arrangements unique to your area.
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