Conveyancing fees are the last big expense before finalising the purchase or sale of a home.
What are conveyancing fees exactly, what do they cover, and how much do they cost?
Read on to find out.
Conveyancing fees are a group of legal costs one pays when they are transferring ownership of property from one person to another, i.e. when they are buying or selling a home. They cover the cost of carrying out property surveys and checks, exchanging contracts and transferring funds from the buyer to the seller (among other services).
Conveyancing fees in the UK usually fall into two categories:
If you are buying a house, expect conveyancing costs between £850 and £2,000 in legal fees and at least £700 for the disbursements.
Sellers can expect to pay between £400 and £1,500 in legal fees. Disbursement costs for sellers are usually lower than for buyers as there is less paperwork involved.
Keep in mind that conveyancing is a complicated procedure, and it is very common for unexpected expenses to pop up, so always save some money in your budget for these extra costs.
This is what the average conveyancing fees in the UK in 2022 look like, broken down by specific expenses.
Legal fees cover the services provided by your conveyancer and are calculated either at an hourly rate or as a percentage of the property value. For instance, the sale or purchase of a home valued between £200,000 and £300,000 translates to about £1,270 to £1,490 in conveyancing costs in the UK.
You might be offered fixed fee conveyancing, meaning that you will pay the price you got in the initial quote. Even though this might give you the chance to budget more accurately, it can also cause misunderstandings regarding unpredicted costs. Remember, no conveyancing quote can be 100% accurate.
Some solicitors could offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ guarantee. This means that if the sale does not go through, you will only pay the legal fees for the work your conveyancer did up to that point. You might even find conveyancers willing to waive these fees if you hire them for the purchase or sale of another property. However, you need to be very clear on what the guarantee entails before you agree to this arrangement.
A conveyancer fee is determined by several factors, such as whether you are buying a freehold or leasehold (how much is left on the lease is a key factor), the value of the property, the type of property (whether it’s a Shared Ownership, Help to Buy or Right to Buy) and whether you are using a solicitor or a conveyancer.
Buyers and sellers could also opt for the services of an online conveyancer. This is much cheaper, although it doesn’t tend to work out great if more complicated issues arise.
Although legal fees make up the lion’s share of the overall conveyance fee, the cost of disbursements should also be considered.
Some of these are fixed, like Land Registry costs, while others depend on the price of the property, such as Stamp Duty.
Following are the average disbursements conveyancing fees in the UK.
This covers the cost of telegraphic transfer, which guarantees funds reach a certain account on a given day, per the request of your mortgage lender.
The charge includes what you pay your solicitor for carrying out the transfer and the bank for transferring the funds and only applies for money transfers over £60,000. Anything under that sum can be transferred with no extra costs via BACS.
These are legal checks carried out to verify that your identity and the money you are paying is legit.
Sellers need to obtain a copy of the deeds. The Title Register and filed Title Plan held at HM Land Registry prove you own the property and also contains any ‘Legal Charges’ or ‘Notices’ registered against the title.
Not all properties are registered with the Land Registry, which means more work for the conveyancer and extra costs.
This is a policy that protects you against a third party making claims against possible defects with the property you are selling. The conveyancer usually asks the seller to take out this one-off policy to cover them against future liabilities.
More information: How long does indemnity insurance last?
If you still have a mortgage, your conveyor will need to contact your mortgage lender for the redemption of your mortgage.
The buyer’s conveyancer should carry out local authority searches and environmental, water and drainage searches to ensure that everything checks out on the property. The cost of these searches averages £290, but it could be higher depending on the location of the property.
Buyers should confirm that the seller’s solicitors are a real company since you will be sending money to them during the conveyancing process, which they will later transfer to their client.
This is required to register the property in your name, thus finalising the transfer of ownership. The fees depend on the price of the house, whether or not it has been registered before and whether you are applying online or by post.
This is to check whether the buyer has been declared bankrupt or is near bankruptcy.
Anyone buying property over £125,000 is required to pay Stamp Duty Tax. This cost is individual to each property as it is charged on a sliding scale, plus different rates apply for first-time homebuyers. You can check the cost here or use an online SDLT calculator.
You might also need to fill out the Stamp Duty Tax Return form. If your solicitor does this, they could charge you between £20 and £50 for the service.
You might be getting help from your family with your deposit. In this case, you will need to show proof that your gifted deposit comes from a legitimate source, which requires more paperwork.
If you are buying with a mortgage, you will need to cover the cost of your conveyancer liaising with your lender.
If you are taking out a guarantor mortgage, the conveyancer might charge an extra £150 to £300 plus VAT for the extra paperwork involved.
When you are buying a home under the Help to Buy scheme, your conveyancer will need to do extra work, which will be reflected in the conveyancing fees, meaning you will pay an extra 200 to 300 pounds. If you are buying a leasehold property with Help to Buy, you could end up paying £2,774 in fees.
Those cashing out their Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA will pay another £50 (VAT not included) to redeem their ISA bonus.
Other costs that might come up include:
If the conveyancer comes across issues during the searches, such as structural matters or underpinning, and they raise those concerns with the seller’s conveyancer, you might have to pay for the additional legal work involved.
Yes, the final conveyancing fee will be much higher for those purchasing or selling a leasehold property—somewhere in the range of £1,370 and £1,420, but again it depends on how complex the case is.
In general, the average cost of selling a leasehold is around £1,420, or £200+ more than selling a freehold (an average of £1,270).
Buying a leasehold is also costlier—legal fees for purchasing a leasehold are estimated at £1,490, whereas buying a freehold costs an average of £1,320 in legal fees.
These are some of the most common extra costs involved.
Related reading: How to extend a lease on a share of freehold?
Keep in mind that other conveyancing costs might come up depending on your unique situation.
When you pay conveyancing fees depends once again on whether you are buying or selling the property.
Buyers might be required to pay £100–£500 upfront to pay for the searches. The entire sum payable, though, is due after a date has been set to exchange contracts. Stamp Duty and transfer of ownership need to be paid after completion, however, your conveyancer will include this in the bill and pay it afterwards.
Sellers usually pay the entire fee on completion day, although some conveyancers might require payment of £150 – £500 upfront. Conveyancing solicitors usually deduct their fees and other costs from the sale proceeds.
For both buyers and sellers in the UK, conveyancing costs can add up quickly. Here are a few tips on how to cut down costs.
To get an idea of how much you will pay for conveyancing solicitors’ fees, it’s best to use an online conveyancing quote tool. Also, check what is included in the quote, i.e. whether it is just legal fees or disbursements as well.
It might be worthwhile to pay extra for quality service. Conveyancing can be a costly process where mistakes could double or triple the bill, so you need someone you can rely on. That said, the most expensive quote doesn’t mean it’s the best.
Go for quotes that are closer to the average conveyancing fees in the UK (you can find the list above), as these are likely to be the most transparent and reliable.
Some solicitors might charge £1,000 to £2,000 on a property under £500k, although you rarely need a high-end conveyancer when selling a property.
Buyers of houses priced at less than £500,000 could find conveyancers charging between £1,500 to £3,000—if you are buying a leasehold or a new build, it’s worth considering this option.
Being upfront with them about the property will save you a lot of unexpected costs as the process moves forward.
Make sure you are not being charged for something that is not included in the conveyancing process.
Be aware of any hidden costs, such as PI contributions, archiving files and postage and photocopying charges. All of these should be a part of the basic conveying fee and not be counted as additional charges.
If you are not sure about any of the fees listed in the quote, talk to the solicitor before you hire them.
If you are buying and selling at the same time, you can save on conveyancing costs by using the same solicitor for both procedures.
Even though there are some ways to save money, conveyancing is a complex and costly procedure, so it is best to budget for it before you go house hunting or put your property on the market. Compare as many quotes as you can and familiarise yourself with the average conveyancing fees in the UK to ensure that you are not overpaying for services.
After you find the right conveyancer, try to get weekly updates on how the process is going so you can plan for unexpected costs.
Typically no, even if you ask your solicitor for a fixed fee rather than an hourly rate. The thing is that your solicitor might ask you for a larger fee to cover unexpected costs, and if your purchase is not as complex you’d just end up paying more than what you’d pay for an hourly rate.
Both the seller and the buyer pay conveyancing fees, although the seller will pay less since there are fewer disbursement costs.
Some solicitors might ask for an upfront payment, usually 10% of the entire fee. This is even more common for buyers since the solicitors need to cover the cost of searches at the start of the process.
If you are getting a mortgage with the same lender, you will not need to hire a conveyancer, as you are buying a different product from the same lender. But if you are remortgaging with another lender, you can expect to pay £300 to £1,000 in legal fees plus some of the same disbursements you would when buying a property.
My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.