Conveyancing Charges Explained

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Conveyancing charges, that is, the money you pay to your conveyancer for dealing with the sale or purchase of a property, can be split into two broad categories, fees (the conveyancing charges for doing the legal work) and disbursements (the conveyancing charges which your conveyancer has to pay to third parties on your behalf).
Both these types of conveyancing charges can be split into further sub categories and we will look at some of the more common once below.
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Conveyancer's Basic Legal Fee

These conveyancing charges are the basic fees payable to your conveyancing for the legal work involved in a “standard” transaction. They may be the only fees payable to the conveyancer but should as a minimum cover a freehold transaction with no new/existing mortgage to deal with. Some conveyancers will charge “supplements” for more complex transactions.

Leasehold, Commonhold and Shared Ownership Supplements

Certain types of transaction are more complex than others and as such, rather than imposing the same conveyancing charges for all types of transaction some conveyancers will charge extra for the more complex ones. Typically these include leasehold, commonhold and shared ownership. Unregistered properties may also command a high fee.

There are two ways to charge a higher fee, either by simply raising the basic conveyancing charges or by charging the basic fee plus a supplement. The supplements typically add £100 - £150 to the total bill.

Conveyancing Search Fees

When buying a property the conveyancer will need to carry out various searches, including a local authority search, a drainage and water search and probably an environmental search. There are other searches which may be required depending on the area the property is in. The conveyancer makes no profit from these conveyancing charges as the payments are made to third parties, however because there are a number of different organisations which provide searches the costs may vary from conveyancer to conveyancer, depending on which provider they use. Typically a set of searches will cost somewhere between £200 - £250.

Land Registry Fees

The Land Registry hold the records for ownership of land in England & Wales. If you are selling your conveyancer will need to obtain copies of various documents from the land registry and the fees will be added to the conveyancing charges. As a minimum the Official Copies of the title will be needed which currently costs £8. In addition copies of transfers/conveyances may be required (£6 each) and if leasehold, possibly a copy of the lease (£20).

If you are buying you will need to pay, via your conveyancer, the land registry's fee for noting the change of ownership. This depends on the purchase price but starts at L80. You will also need to pay for a land registry search at £4 per title and if you are taking a mortgage, a bankruptcy search at £2 per purchaser.

Fees Payable to the Landlord

If the property is leasehold, there will usually be conveyancing charges payable to the landlord by both the seller and the buyer. It will be necessary for the seller's conveyancer to obtain replies to some standard enquiries regarding rents and service charges and other issues for which the landlord will usually charge a fee. These fees can be anywhere from £50 to in extreme cases, £900, though the average is probably around £100 - £150. VAT will also need to be added.

The buyer's conveyancer will give notice of the change of ownership to the landlord and the fees for this will generally be around £50 - £100. It may also be necessary for the seller to pay for a “licence to assign” or the buyer to enter into a “deed of covenant”. Usually, whoever has to enter into the deed pays for it though there are no fixed rules. Licences usually cost around £200 - £300 whereas deeds of covenant tend to be cheaper, say £100.

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