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What are Disbursements? Conveyancing Disbursements Explained

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

1st Mar 2019 (Last updated on 19th Jun 2020) 4 minute read

Conveyancing disbursements are fees that your Conveyancer will have to pay on your behalf for third-party services. They include conveyancing searches and stamp duty. Disbursements should be clearly set out in the quote issued by your Conveyancer. If the quote received does not mention disbursements then you should ask for a full breakdown or opt to use another Conveyancer.

This guide will cover everything you need to know about conveyancing disbursements.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What Does Disbursement Mean?
  2. What Disbursements Are Payable When Buying a House?
  3. What Disbursements Are Payable When Selling a House?
  4. When Do I Pay Conveyancing Disbursements?
  5. Save on Your Conveyancing with Compare My Move

What Does Disbursement Mean?

Conveyancing disbursements are payments that you make to your conveyancer for third-party services. Your conveyancer will pay for the services on your behalf. Conveyancing fees will be made up of part legal fees for your conveyancer and part disbursements for third-party services your conveyancer has to obtain.

You will need to pay disbursements for both buying and selling a house, although you won’t have to pay as many for selling. Be wary of a conveyancing quote that looks too cheap, they most likely haven't included the costs of disbursements in their quote.

What Disbursements Are Payable When Buying a House?

There will be more disbursement fees for when you’re buying a house than selling a house. We will cover the disbursements when buying a house, from local authority searches to stamp duty. It's important to factor in these costs for buying a house.

1. Property Searches - £250-£450

You can usually buy a property search package made up of local authority search, water and drainage search and environmental search.

2. Local Authority Search 

A local authority search is one of the main conveyancing searches when buying a house. The local authority search will tell you vital information about the property, such as whether it is a listed building or located in a conservation or tree preservation area.

3. Water and Drainage Search 

You will need a water and drainage search when buying a house. The water and drainage search will be able to tell you if the property is connected to the public water and sewer system and how the house is charged for water supply.

4. Environmental Search 

Environmental searches are available as one of the conveyancing searches for buying a house. They will provide risk assessment on certain environmental factors that may affect the property. 

5. Stamp Duty - 0-12% 

Stamp Duty will have to be paid when buying a house. First-time buyers who are purchasing a house up to the value of £300,000 will be exempt from paying Stamp Duty.

6. Land Registry Search - £3

Your Conveyancer will need to carry out a search at the Land Registry after exchange of contracts to check that the property register has not changed since the contract paperwork was issued by the seller’s Conveyancer.

7. Bankruptcy Search - £2 (Per Name)

Your mortgage lender will require a bankruptcy search to be carried out on all the people named as the ‘borrowers’ on the mortgage offer.

The prices shown are usually fixed, but can vary depending on location, your situation and other factors.

What Disbursements Are Payable When Selling a House?

You won’t have to pay as many disbursements when you’re selling a house as you would with buying a house. Here we will cover the disbursements needed to be paid for selling your house.

1. Land Registry Document Fee - £6

Your conveyancer will need to obtain Land Registry documents to show that you are the official owner. The documents will consist of a property register and a plan of the property.

2. Bank Transfer Fee - £25-£45

When selling your house, your conveyancer will pay off your existing mortgage on the completion of the sale. They will also need to transfer any net proceeds of sale due to you. The Bank Transfer Fee will be charged to process such payments.

The prices shown are usually fixed, but can vary depending on location, your situation and other factors.

When Do I Pay Conveyancing Disbursements?

With conveyancing searches, the relevant authorities require payment before they will process the search application. You should expect to pay for these disbursements upfront. Some disbursements might be payable during the transaction and others at the end. Your Conveyancer will be able to confirm when and how much is due to be paid.

You should ensure that, at the beginning, you’ve been provided with a full quote with a breakdown of the costs, so you know what to expect and budget for.

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Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner at RMNJ Solicitors, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.