You will want to get a rough idea of how much solicitors cost when buying a house in order to budget properly. It may be a good idea to save extra on top of your house deposit because solicitors’ costs have to be paid straight away. The last thing you want is to find yourself short of cash.
The main costs associated with hiring a solicitor to support you in buying your new home are for conveyancing (and the fees associated with this), as well as managing the transfer of equity. But there will probably be additional costs for admin and any checks that your solicitor needs to do on you or the house.
How Much Do Solicitors Cost?
Solicitors’ fees can vary between firms depending on their experience and hourly rate. You can always ask them how much they charge per hour and compare their rate to other firms in your area. Just remember, going for the cheapest option might not be the smartest in case you get what you pay for!
The total amount you will pay your solicitor for the whole house-buying process depends on a few main factors:
- What type of property you are buying, especially if it is freehold or leasehold
- Whether you already have a mortgage, are getting one or are paying in cash
- If you are a first-time buyer or not
- Whether any problems come up with the house or your finances that need looking into further
What Will I Pay A Solicitor For?
You will have to pay a solicitor for their time as they work on all the legal costs associated with buying a home. This includes processes like the transfer of equity, conveyancing, communication and any checks they need to complete on you or the property.
Generally, people appoint one solicitor to cover all of these aspects, helping to create a smooth transition of ownership. But if you are unhappy with the service your solicitor provides, you can change to another one. It just might cost you more, because the new solicitor may need to start the process again.
We have researched the costs of all the common solicitor fees people have to pay and broken them down for you. Below is a list of how much each one cost on average, using data from 2023.
Conveyancing Legal Fees
Conveyancing is the legal way of phrasing the transfer of property ownership. Your conveyancing legal fees will cover the time that the solicitor spends working on the legal aspects of this process. Most solicitors charge an hourly rate, but some may price per service completed.
The average conveyancing legal fees for 2023 are £1,270 – £1490. How much you spend depends on whether you are paying for your house in cash, getting your first mortgage or remortgage.
Conveyancing searches are different from conveyancing legal fees. They are essentially the questions your solicitor will find answers to because you can’t do it yourself. There are more of these than you might expect. After all, it is crucial that you discover any potential problems the property may have. Otherwise you risk a nasty shock after you’ve moved in.
The main searches your solicitor will do for you fall under these three categories:
- Local authority – For finding out what building regulations the property has, what types of planning permissions are in place and whether road maintenance is down to the local authority.
- Water and drainage – To check that the house is connected to a water supply and that there is adequate drainage for surface water. They may also check whether the sewers are maintained by the local authority.
- Environmental – To see if there is a risk of the property flooding, if it is located in a coal mining area and to check out any other environmental risks.
On average, people paid £290 for conveyancing searches during 2023. You may spend more in an expensive area or less in a cheaper one.
Checks for Money Laundering
Anti-money laundering checks are highly important because your solicitor will need to make sure that you are paying for the house with money that is legitimate. They have to be especially careful if you are buying in cash or paying via multiple bank accounts.
Most people pay around £5 for a money laundering check.
Checks for Bankruptcy
If you’ve applied for a mortgage, you may need to complete a check to show that you are not close to going bankrupt. If you are, you probably won’t be allowed to buy the house until you have sorted out your financial situation.
For those of us who have our finances in a good place, bankruptcy checks will not disrupt the buying process and only cost about £3.
An equity transfer is the process of adding somebody to the title deeds of the house on your end. If your solicitor is managing this you will need to pay them for doing so. The reason that you can’t handle this yourself is that it is a complex legal process that needs an expert eye.
The average cost for equity transfer in 2023 was £540. This covers the total change in title deeds from one name to another.
Mortgaged Property Supplement Fee
A mortgaged property supplement fee may apply if you still have a mortgage. This is because your solicitor will need to liaise with your mortgage company in order to complete any necessary administration work.
They will charge you at an average cost of £220, depending on how easy it is for them to complete the paperwork they need.
Stamp duty is a tax you incur for purchasing property in the UK. You might be happy to hear that first-time buyers are exempt from it. But they still need to tell HMRC that they’ve bought the property within 14 days of completion. Unfortunately, this also comes at a price.
The cost of stamp duty can differ widely based on the property’s location and how much it is worth. But on average, people paid £3,850 in 2023. Informing HMRC of your house purchase is much cheaper, at an average of £110.
Those are all of the common costs for a freehold property. However, buying a leasehold property involves more legal work. Therefore, it usually costs more. Below are the common extra fees for leasehold purchasers and their average prices in 2023:
- Certificate of compliance – £250
- Notice of transfer – £190
- Deed of covenant – £280
- Notice of charge – £140
- Landlord sales pack – £280
- Engrossment fee – £135
What Other Fees Will I Have to Pay?
Buying a house can be expensive and there are some other fees that you may have to pay. Firstly, your mortgage provider might charge you some administrative or processing fees in order to provide you with a mortgage. You will also have to pay estate agent fees if you are selling your old home in order to move into this one. Finally, don’t forget about moving costs! These can add up when you consider hiring a removal van, decorating and buying new furniture.
All of the fees you owe your solicitor will be listed on the bill that they give you. If you don’t understand what any of these are for, do make sure you check with them. You can always ask how much they charge for each aspect of their services to you before they start each one. But be aware that they can’t accurately predict exactly what you will need from them because problems can crop up unexpectedly.
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