Conveyancing

Homebuying fees laid bare

By
Zoopla
By
Zoopla

No matter how much you set aside, the legal costs associated with buying a home are all-too-often underestimated. Get to grips with what to expect.

The legal cost of buying a home – known as conveyancing – fall into two main categories; the fee you pay your solicitor for carrying out the work, and the costs your solicitor needs to pay to third parties on your behalf (such as stamp duty) known as ‘disbursements’.

Remember: these all need to be paid from your pocket and cannot be added to the mortgage.

We’ve broken down all potential costs so you don't miss a trick.

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Good conveyancing is critical for helping keep your purchase process on track. We have partnered with MoveIt so that you can instruct a vetted, approved and regulated solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

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Legal fees

1. Solicitor fee for property purchase: This fee pays for your solicitor to complete the work on your behalf. Solicitors – or ‘conveyancers’ – perform a range of tasks, including drawing up contracts, conducting searches, and handling the chain of buyers and sellers.

For more on this, check out our guide, What does a conveyancer do?

Note that some solicitors will calculate their legal fee based on the value of the property, while others will charge a standard or ‘fixed fee’. Make sure you find out which you're being charged.

Potential cost: £700-£1,000

2. Leasehold fee: if you are buying a leasehold property, it can involve more work for the solicitor, so you're likely to face an additional fee, known as a 'leasehold premium'.

Similarly, you could face additional charges if you are purchasing a new-build or Shared Ownership property, due to the extra work involved.

Potential cost: £100-£250

3. Telegraphic Transfer fee: also known as a ‘bank transfer fee’, this charge covers the cost of transferring funds from one solicitor to another on the day of completion.

Potential cost: £30-£75

Disbursements

Further to the fees listed above, solicitors also have to make a number of payments to third parties. These charges, which are passed onto you, are collectively known as 'disbursements'. They include searches, Land Registry fees, and Stamp Duty Land Tax.

In many cases, these costs are standard, and set by the third party, for example the Government.

1. Stamp Duty: Stamp Duty is the usually the largest disbursement, as it is based on a percentage of the value of the property you are buying.

Potential cost: Under current rules, you won't have to pay Stamp Duty on property purchases below £125,000.

You then pay 1% on purchases between £125,001 and £250,000 and 2% on purchases between £250,001 and £925,000. The rate of Stamp Duty then rises to 12% for home costing £1,500,001 or more.

Find out more with our quick guide to stamp duty.

Bear in mind, if you are already a homeowner and this is an 'additional home' you are buying, an extra 3% Stamp Duty could be payable on top of this. Find out more with our Q&A.

2. Stamp Duty Land Tax return: some solicitors will charge a fee for completing and submitting your Stamp Duty Land Tax form. 

Potential cost: £30-£75

Searches

3. Bankruptcy: as it says on the tin,  this is a quick check to ensure you’ve not been made bankrupt in the past.

Potential cost: £4

4. Anti-money laundering: to verify your identity and confirm that the details on your ID documents match up with other independent data sources. These are part of anti-money laundering regulations.

Potential cost: £6-£20

5. Search pack: for the Local Authority search, as well as Environmental and Water searches.

Potential cost: Around £300

6. Land Registry fee: covers the change to the legal ownership of the property you are purchasing so that you end up with your name on the property's title deeds. Fees for registering your new home at the Land Registry are on a scale.

Potential cost: £150-300

7. Land Registry ‘search of whole’: this search is carried out so your property can be registered as soon as possible after completion.

Potential cost: £4-£8

There may be further charges for other disbursements, so check with your solicitor, and be sure to leave enough spare cash to cover them.

If you are selling as well as buying

If you are using the same solicitor for the sale of your current property, as well as the purchase of your new home, you it follows you will face further charges.

For example, you will need to pay another solicitor fee of between £700 and £1,000 for the handling of the sale.

Prepare for other other peppercorn costs too, such as getting hold of a set of title deeds (to prove you own the property) and telegraphic transfer fees.

Ask for a full breakdown...

When obtaining a quote from a solicitor or conveyancer, always ask for a full and clear breakdown of costs. Sometimes legal fees and disbursements are bundled together, making it hard to compare quotes.

And check for hidden or additional fees so you know exactly how much you are going to end up paying.

... and don’t forget VAT

Finally, remember to ask your solicitor whether VAT (payable at 20%) is included in the final estimate, as it will apply to some charges. Be sure to factor this into your sums.

Compare conveyancing services

Good conveyancing is critical for helping keep your purchase process on track. We have partnered with MoveIt so that you can instruct a vetted, approved and regulated solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

Quickly compare conveyancing solicitors based on price, service and location.

Compare services

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