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What is No Sale No Fee Conveyancing?

Adele MacGregor

Written by

18th Jan 2021 (Last updated on 27th Oct 2022) 5 minute read

“No Sale No Fee Conveyancing” is a sales agreement from a conveyancer, meaning if the sale or purchase of the property falls through, you won’t have to pay their legal fees. It is also known as "no purchase no fee conveyancing", “no completion no fee” or “no move no fee”.

Without this agreement, you will be required to pay the full legal fees, even if the transaction fails to complete. This can leave you with nothing to show for several hundreds of pounds spent on legal fees.

Be aware that this doesn’t mean there will be nothing to pay if the sale does not complete. Any funds paid out to third parties by your conveyancer, such as the cost of searches and surveys, will need to be repaid regardless of the outcome of the sale.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Who Offers No Sale No Fee?
  2. How Much Does It Cost?
  3. Is It Worth Considering?
  4. What Causes a Sale to Fall Through?
  5. Is There an Alternative?
  6. Learn More About Conveyancing

Who Offers No Sale No Fee?

Although not all conveyancers will offer this service, some well-known firms offer No Sale No Fee Conveyancing. You may also find that an independent or local conveyancer may also offer you this service. Online conveyancing is also an option.

When choosing a conveyancer, it is at the solicitor’s discretion whether they want to take your case on a “No Sale No Fee” basis. Following the 1995 Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), if the solicitor does not wish to take your case (if it is clear the sale will fall through, for example) they can refuse to go ahead with the legal work on your behalf.

How Much Does It Cost?

According to our estimates (based on a sample of conveyancing cost320s across the UK), the average conveyancing fees for buying a house is £1,320. The average cost of conveyancing for selling is £1,270.

The cost for any type of conveyancing will depend on the property price, your location, and the conveyancing firm that you choose, but fees for no sale no fee conveyancing can be higher than “traditional” conveyancing.

In order for conveyancers to offer this service, fees will be higher so that they can recoup lost earnings from uncompleted sales. This could mean an extra 15% on your costs. Some conveyancers may also charge a deposit upfront.

Third-Party Fees

The “no fee” element of the arrangement only applies to the time spent dealing with your purchase or sale. You will still be required to foot the bill for payments made to third parties on your behalf.

These include:

  • Surveys
  • Searches
  • Fees Paid to the Land Registry

It is only the conveyancer’s time you would not be required to pay.

Fees for local authority searches, which are organised by your conveyancer, will vary as local authorities set their own fees. On average, these can cost anywhere between £50-£250.

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Is It Worth Considering?

If the risk of your property sale falling through is a particular concern and losing funds for a full conveyancing service could hit you especially hard, "No Sale, No Fee" might be worth considering.

However, the protection offered by this type of conveyancing against losing money on legal fees should the sale fall through is offset by the higher costs involved. If the sale completes, you could face a higher bill than if you had used a traditional conveyancing service.

Also, remember that in the event the sale falls through, this service does not exempt you from all costs.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantage of this service is that if the sale falls through, you are not at risk of losing money on legal fees. However, there are other factors to consider when using this type of conveyancing service.

Below, we've set out the advantages and disadvantages of using No Sale No Fee:

AdvantagesDisadvantages
You are not at risk of losing money on legal costs if the sale falls through.Potentially higher fees than traditional conveyancing services.
Your conveyancer will have an incentive to keep the sale moving as they will lose their fee if the sale is not completed.You will still incur fees for anything the conveyancer has organised on your behalf such as environmental searches.
Some conveyancers may allow you to move the deposit paid on the failed sale to your next transaction.There may be upfront deposits or hidden costs that are not included in the "main" fee. These could be charged regardless of the outcome of the sale.

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What Causes a Sale to Fall Through?

Towards the end of 2021, one in three (34%) of house sales in England and Wales fell through before completion according to Quick Move Now. Below, we look at the most common reasons a transaction may fail to complete.

1. Property Chain

    A break in the property chain is one of the most common reasons for a sale to fall through. A property chain forms when a line of buyers and sellers are linked as their property transactions depend on one another. If a sale falls through, this can also have a domino effect on the buyers and sellers linked to that transaction.

    2. Buyer or Seller Changed Their Mind

      Sometimes a buyer will simply change their mind on a property purchase. This can be due to financial factors or a change of circumstances or priorities. Sellers also change their minds. This could be because they want to remain in their current home, or they may pull out of the sale if the process is moving too slowly.

      3. Problem Identified in Survey

      Buyers may also pull out a property transaction if their property survey reveals a serious concern or potential problem such as structural issues or damp.

      4. Gazumping

      Gazumping occurs when a seller has accepted an offer and later accepts a higher offer from another buyer. This can happen at any point during the buying process until the exchange of contracts.

      5. Difficulty Securing a Mortgage

      Even if a buyer has a Mortgage in Principle when making an offer on a home, it does not guarantee a mortgage from the lender. If a buyer’s financial circumstances change, they may find it difficult to secure a mortgage. This can delay the sale and even cause it to collapse completely.

        Is There an Alternative?

        As an alternative to no sale no fee conveyancing, you could consider Home Buyer Protection Insurance. This is an insurance policy designed to cover you if the sale falls through, allowing you to recoup some costs. These include valuation fees, mortgage fees and fees for searches and surveys.

        Be aware that a Home Buyer Protection policy must be taken out prior to appointing a conveyancer.

        Learn More About Conveyancing

        This is part of our conveyancing guide. In our next article, we take a look at the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. To read more see: What is the Council for Licensed Conveyancers?

        Adele MacGregor

        Having worked at Compare My Move for over four years, Adele covers topics such as the conveyancing process across the UK, property surveys, home moves and storage.

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