Buying a house can be a minefield of paperwork, finances, and inevitable stress and concern. As a result, it is important that you are always fully aware of what you need to do and how to make sure the purchase of your house goes through smoothly. Whether you go via an online estate agent or a high street vendor, you will need to make sure you are fully aware of what costs could be involved.
Along with the stamp duty, the mortgage broker fee, a valuation fee, the costs of moving and house insurance, you also must encounter the variety of legal fees that will soon accumulate as the solicitor or licensed conveyancer completes the required works.
Solicitors’ fees will vary but can be anywhere between £500-£2000. They largely depend on the property type, its age, its size and whether it is a leasehold or freehold. A leasehold flat for example will contain a very detailed lease which the solicitor will spend considerable time checking over. This can push the fee of your solicitor a bit higher.
What is included in solicitors fees when buying a house?
When hiring a solicitor for buying a house you hire them to cover the standard legal work that is required as well as disbursements. A disbursement is where fees are collected by the solicitor and passed on to the appropriate third party. These will include things like bankruptcy checks, land registry office checks, a local authority search and a water and drainage search. The costs themselves can vary between local authorities, banks, and utility providers. A base fee will also be incorporated into the costs and can vary between being a set fee or an hourly rate. These are paid to cover the handling of the case from start to finish. You can expect to find included within your solicitor fees:
- Organising your stamp duty payment
- The drawing up of contracts between you and the seller
- The payment transfer for your new house
- All disbursements
- Raise and query and checks and additional checks that arise
- All local searches
- Take receipt of all paperwork from the seller
- Collect the memorandum of sale
- Request your deposit
- Organise the completion
- Finally, they will exchange, complete and register the change of ownership
What are the average disbursement costs?
The variety of disbursements will be added to your solicitors’ bill and vary when buying or selling a house. Those listed below are the average disbursement fees for making a house purchase.
|Anti-money laundering checks||£6-£20|
|Local Authority Searches||£250-£450|
|Property Fraud Check||£10|
|Bank Transfer Fee||£20-£30|
|Stamp Duty Land Tax||Variable|
|Lifetime/Help to buy ISA||£60|
|Help to Buy Supplement||£200|
Is a conveyancer cheaper than a solicitor?
A conveyancer can be cheaper than a solicitor when buying a house but that is largely due to the legal expertise a solicitor has. Whilst a conveyancer is qualified to complete the process and fully versed in all things legal with regards to a property purchase. A solicitor is a legal professional with training and experience in a host of legal aspects. Ultimately what you choose is down to you. Many law firms now hire expert conveyancers to handle property purchases but perhaps knowing you have hired someone fully trained in many aspects of law maybe more reassuring to you.
Do I have to pay solicitor fees?
In short-you do not even need to have a solicitor but it is highly recommended. At least that way, all legal issues are processed properly and in accordance with the law. You could opt to do the job of a solicitor yourself; you may just find it very time consuming during what is a stressful enough process as it is. Alternatively, you could hire a licensed conveyancer, they may be slightly cheaper than a solicitor but are not so legally experienced. No matter who you choose to hire, you will have to pay the fees.
What happens if I don’t pay solicitors fees?
As with anything you have the right to complain about poor or inefficient service and that may be the route you are pursuing when not paying your solicitor fees. You have the right to challenge the bill from your solicitor and can have the Senior Courts Costs Office make a detailed assessment of the amount owed. They will determine whether it is too expensive.
Before taking it to the court, we would recommend trying to solve the issue with your solicitor first or get free legal advice from groups such as Citizens Advice Bureau or your local Law Centre. If you have done this and still decide to proceed, you must apply to the courts to have the detailed assessment completed.
You can apply within a year of getting your bill, but you may find that you are asked to pay part, or all of it. You will then get back any difference should the courts agree that the original bill was too high.
If though you are just refusing to pay or putting it off until another day, then consider the fact you could face court action yourself and find a CCJ issued which will severely harm your credit rating in the future.
If you do not pay, a solicitor is entitled to follow a debt recovery action. It can be an extreme resort, especially when a client care letter would have been issued at the start of the working contract, outlining payment terms as well as details of the service provided. However, if this was ignored, the solicitor may only have one option left to get the money they are owed.
Once they begin their recovery process a letter of claim will be sent out. In this you will receive a statement of the account outlining what is owed, any accrued interest, any handling fees and further charges. They will also send you an information sheet detailing important next steps, including a reply form which gives you the opportunity to accept or dispute the debt. This form MUST be returned within 30 days. Further to this, you will also need to provide a financial statement of your own which shows a detailed breakdown of your current financial situation.
When do I pay solicitors fees?
When buying a house, a solicitor will charge you a fee based on the work they are doing for you. Normally an amount is paid up front with the remainder paid upon completion. The amount you pay will vary depending on how much the total bill is, but you can expect an initial cost of £190-£300. However, some will charge by the hour.
It is common practise to pay the remaining balance of any solicitor fees one day before completion. Some solicitors operate a no completion, no fee basis but we would recommend that you check if this is the case at the start of the process. As with anything involving your finances, shop around first as some may appear more appealing to others but have hidden fees you weren’t initially aware of.
What are the average fees for a solicitor?
As mentioned earlier the fees can vary and will be based on a variety of factors. We looked at a variety of solicitor fees around the Country and found that depending on where you live can have a significant impact on the value you pay. For example, A solicitor with over 8 years of experience in London can charge up to £512 per hour whereas in Central Manchester they can charge up to £255 per hour. These are only guidelines though and for the purchase of a house, you may have been quoted a set fee for the whole process rather than an hourly rate. Base fees (the costs for the handling of your house purchase by the solicitor) may be charged hourly or at a fixed rate.
Below are the averages per property type and value, these do not include the disbursements.
|Property price band||Freehold||Leasehold|
|Up to £125,000||£414||£740|
|Up to £250,000||£431||£753|
|Up to £375,000||£457||£786|
|Up to £500,000||£493||£812|
|Up to £750,000||£664||£917|
|Up to £1,000,000||£939||£1,061|
|Up to £1,250,000||£1,426||£1,554|
|Up to £1,500,000||£1,390||£1,502|
Who pays the solicitor fees when buying a house?
Quite simply-the person or people making the purchase pay all the relevant fees. The balance normally being paid the day before completion unless you have a no completion-no fee solicitor.
At SOLD.CO.UK we pride ourselves on getting you moving, whether you are looking into buying a house or wanting to sell your house we are expert online estate agents and remain fully transparent throughout the process. Enabling you to move stress free. Contact us today for a free valuation.