For anybody who needs to know how much their conveyancer’s or solicitor’s fees when buying a house will be, then they will need to appreciate a number of factors that dictate how much you will pay.
However, before doing so you should know that there is no legal obligation to hire a conveyancing solicitor. But it’s always a good idea to do so to ensure that you are protected legally, and that money is paid out safely and legally, particularly if you have a mortgage, to the house seller.
Also, the conveyancing process is complicated and needs to be managed correctly to avoid problems once you have moved in, for example, a boundary dispute with neighbours.
You should be aware that some mortgage lenders may offer a select list of conveyancers, and some offer the service as part of their mortgage deal, but you are free to choose your own and pay them. That means you’ll need to know how much solicitor fees for buying a house are.
Services your conveyancer will charge you for
Your conveyancer will handle the legal paperwork involved in transferring ownership between you and the house seller and carry out searches that will highlight issues with your new home.
A solicitor or conveyancer will charge you legal fees, which cover the conveyancing process and all this entails from start to finish. Then they will charge you for conveyancing disbursements.
These are charges from third parties, which your conveyancer will pay on your behalf and then invoice you for them. Searches are an example of such disbursements.
While the legal fees can vary from solicitor to solicitor, the disbursements will be similar. That’s because a search will cost the same, no matter which conveyancer is ordering them.
[NOTE: All prices given include VAT and are correct at the time of writing.]
These will be dependent on the value of the home you are buying. The higher the value, the higher these fees will be.
But they can also vary from one firm to another, so it is definitely worth getting several quotes to ensure you get a good price for the service you want.
On average, these legal fees can range from between £600 and £2,500 for buying a freehold. If there are many factors that make the purchase more complex, this fee will be higher.
Buying leasehold will cost more, because there will be more work involved for the conveyancer. You should expect between £1,000 and £3,500.
Most solicitors will have a basic fee that is based on the value of the property and the basic work that needs to be done. Extra charges will be added, if extra work is involved. This could be for a property with a septic tank or solar panels.
The price for these charges will vary, depending on which are applicable for the property you are buying. This makes it difficult to say how much these will cost. However, the most common disbursements are searches, land registry fee, mortgage handling fee, telegraphic transfer fee, bankruptcy search and ID identification.
Most conveyancers will have a fixed price for searches, which can range between £250 and £500. These will cover the standard searches. If additional searches are needed, there will be an additional cost.
The land registry charge, depends on the value of the house and can range from £20 to £500 for an electronic copy. For a postal copy the prices range between £45 and £1,105.
Most other typical disbursements are of mostly small values, such as the bankruptcy search or the ID check.
For a standard purchase, you can expect to pay between £300 and £1,500 depending on the value of your property.
This means on average, you can expect to pay solicitor fees between £900 and £5,000 for standard purchases, depending on the value of the house you are buying.
So, while there is no set amount for solicitors to charge, it is recommended that you research several firms and consider one with fixed fees.
That’s what we did, asking for quotes from multiple solicitors before finally settling on the one we wanted to use. Note that we also didn’t simply instruct the cheapest. While price was obviously important, we weighed up the pros and cons of each solicitor.
We took into account their customer reviews and reputation along with how we felt the enquiry process had gone. Ultimately, we wanted a fair price, but we didn’t mind paying a bit more to get a good solicitor who will properly look after us and help us move to completion quickly.
It’s at this point we should also highlight that the quality of solicitors does vary, so check their online reviews, and it might be worth paying extra for one with glowing feedback.
Typically, the cost of your solicitor’s fees when buying a house will rise with the value of your property. Lower value properties may pay just a few hundred pounds, whereas higher value properties can pay several thousands of pounds.
When we bought our current home in 2021 we paid the following fees:
- Conveyancing For Sale = £1,542
- Conveyancing For Purchase = £2,118
- Legal Search Pack = £350
- Land Registry Fees = £141
- Anti-Money Laundering Checks = £24
- Other Admin Fees = £13
Grand Total (Buying & Selling) = £4,188
If we had just been buying, the fees would have amounted to around £2,600.
However, both the home we sold and the one we bought were over the national average house price, so most people will find their fees are much less than ours were.
It’s also worth pointing out the difference in costs between buying and selling a property. Selling a property tends to incur lower fees than buying a property, as our experience above shows.
It should also be noted that while we had to pay some of the solicitor’s fees when buying a house upfront, the majority of the fees were only payable on completion. In fact, our solicitor deducted the amount we owed from our final settlement figure. So, in effect, we never saw that money and, as we had factored it in at the start, we never missed it either!
Of course, our example only shows our experience and there are many factors that will affect the price you pay (not least the value and location of your sale and/or purchase). So, perhaps the best way of working out what a conveyancing solicitor will cost is to use a comparison service which is quick and easy.
As well as understanding how much solicitor’s fees for buying a house are, you’ll also want to know what you’re getting for your money. You can read our article here for guidance on this.
Solicitor’s fees when buying a house – Get a conveyancing solicitor quote:
What you get for your money
Now that you know what you can expect to pay for your conveyancing solicitor, let’s look at what you get for it. A conveyancing solicitor’s responsibilities will include:
- The drawing up of contracts for you to buy a house
- Check all information about the property they receive
- Make enquiries from the seller to ensure you have all the information you need
- Arrange for funds to be paid to seller/liaison with mortgage provider
- Give advice on any issue related to the buying of the property
- They will deal with the Land Registry
- The solicitor will arrange the paying of Stamp Duty
- Order searches and gather other relevant information
- Exchange contracts and arrange for completion of sale
As you can see, a conveyancing solicitor does a lot of things. So it is important that you choose an experienced solicitor specialised in conveyancing.
Even though the Stamp Duty isn’t part of legal costs, it’s the solicitor who will arrange for this tax to be paid.
The Stamp Duty must be paid from your own funds, that is to say you cannot use your mortgage agreement for this purpose.
The amount you pay depends on how much the property costs. For a property of up to £250,000 there is no Stamp Duty to pay. Properties between £250,001 and £925,000 are taxed at 5%. Between £925,001 and £1.5 million, the duty is 10%. Over this amount, Stamp Duty is 12%. [correct at time of writing].
Again, our solicitor deducted the stamp duty we had to pay from our final settlement figure. This meant that we didn’t ever have to worry about finding the cash. Instead, we just factored in that we would receive less at the end to factor in the stamp duty we owed.
As we have said, one big part of the conveyancing process when buying a house is ordering searches and checking their results.
There is no legal requirement to conduct any searches when buying a house. But it’s highly advisable that you do searches, because you need to have all the information about the property possible.
There are some standard searches that should be carried out for all properties. Then there are some that are only necessary in certain circumstances. Some searches your solicitor will give you a choice if you want them to be done or not.
This is an option our solicitor gave us, but we decided to take his advice and order all of the searches he recommended. It gave us peace of mind that we had covered all bases and won’t have any nasty surprises.
These searches should be done for all properties:
- Local authority searches
- Environmental search
- Water and drainage search
It’s these searches that also highlight any issues with rights-of-way and any clauses or issues with the environment that may have an impact on your enjoyment of your new home.
Searches that your solicitor might recommend, depending on the specific circumstances of the property include:
- Mining search
- Flooding search
- Radon search
- Chancel search
Buying a leasehold property
You might have wondered why buying a leasehold property pushes up the solicitor costs. That’s because the purchase of leasehold is much more complicated and involves more work and time on the solicitor’s part.
Essentially, when you are buying a leasehold property you are agreeing to lease the property from the freeholder. The lease will allow you to live in the property for a specified number of years.
Before agreeing on the solicitor’s fees, the conveyancer solicitor should explain why they will be spending more time on leasehold contracts. These will include:
Deed of Covenant
This deed is a legally binding agreement between the buyer and the management company or landlord and any issues, including the carrying out of repair work, will be determined.
The solicitor needs to check these carefully to ensure that you aren’t disadvantaged by buying the property.
The solicitor will also need to investigate the length of the lease and liaise with the managing agent or landlord to serve notice that you are taking over a lease.
In the case of a short lease, the solicitor can also advise on how to extend it and what you need to do.
The solicitor will also need to find out more information about the service charges or any management details.
This is important work, because you don’t want to end up buying the flat or house and later find out about costs you weren’t anticipating.
What if a sale falls through?
Another issue to consider before hiring a conveyancing solicitor is what happens if you have a property sale fall through.
There are firms offering a ‘no-fee guarantee’ so you won’t have to pay the full conveyancer’s bill should this happen. Though it’s always a good idea to have a clear explanation of what is covered and what is not by those firms offering this type of guarantee.
It’s likely that if they have incurred costs, such as the disbursements, then you will be handed a bill. If the issue of solicitor’s fees when buying a house is a concern, then you might be tempted by this offer.
We have made use of such a guarantee ourselves when we had to pull out of buying a home after finding some problems during the survey stage. Thankfully, this was before searches had been ordered, so we didn’t lose any money as the solicitor fees were waived. Instead, they just started work on our new purchase.
Online conveyancing firms offer a much cheaper service, and you should check carefully what their offer includes since it will usually differ from the service you may enjoy from a well-established high-street firm.
It may also be a good idea to opt for a conveyancing solicitor who is registered with a professional body, so there is a code of conduct they must abide by, and they will offer support throughout the house buying process.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the time it takes to complete the conveyancing work will vary depending on what is involved, and it can appear to take a long time indeed.
Use a conveyancing service that will meet your needs
Essentially, for those who want to know ‘How much are solicitor’s fees when buying a house?’, then the answer is to shop around to get the best deal possible.
But remember to use a conveyancing service that will meet your needs and has had good feedback from previous clients to ensure that deadlines are met and costs do not spiral out of control.
Ultimately, the costs will depend on the value of the home you are purchasing and on how complex the purchase is. We found that it is worth to pay more for an experienced solicitor, because they will make the process of buying a home much smoother and less stressful.
When it comes to understanding the solicitor’s fees when buying a house, the Law Society offers some good advice on the conveyancing process.