Fixed Fee Conveyancing Explained
Fixed Fee Conveyancing is where a pre-agreed price is set for the legal service being given - the price quoted at the start should then be the price you pay at the end of the process with the various disbursements included alongside the fixed fee.
Fixed fee conveyancing, often called fixed price conveyancing or fixed rate conveyancing, is common throughout the UK, but some conveyancing solicitors still use an hourly rate service. It’s important to make this distinction when comparing conveyancing solicitors so that you can prepare for the final price.
Hiring a conveyancing solicitor is vital when buying or selling a property. It’s important to understand their service and the included costs before continuing. To help you search for the most appropriate solicitor for you, Compare My Move has created this guide to explain the meaning of fixed fee conveyancing and what it should include.
What is Fixed Fee Conveyancing?
Fixed fee conveyancing means that the price you’re quoted at the start of the process is what you’ll pay at the end. A fixed-rate service is often preferred by customers as it allows them to budget for the expected costs rather than to have an estimated amount with possible hidden costs added on.
The term ‘fixed fee’ usually relates to the price of the legal services offered, it’s important to note that not all of the third-party costs will be included and can be fixed due to different local authorities etc.
Always ask for a quote from the solicitors that you’re interested in so that you can compare and work out an appropriate budget for buying a house.
What Should Fixed Fee Conveyancing Include?
A fixed price conveyancing quote should have the pre-agreed fixed price for the legal service and then also any added disbursement costs.
Some costs depend upon the expected time it takes to undertake the necessary legal work. Some legal firms may include an additional fee for photocopying and processing paperwork.
To ensure you’re not being overcharged, we have included a list of what should be expected in a fixed fee conveyancing quote.
When selling a property, the fixed price conveyancing quote should include:
- The solicitor fees for selling a house. This will be adjusted depending on whether the property is freehold or leasehold
- A fee for copies of the necessary documents from The Land Registry
- A Bank Transfer fee
When buying a property, there are more checks and searches to be completed and so the fixed price conveyancing quote will include additional elements when compared to selling a property. These include:
- The legal fee charged by the conveyancing solicitor
- Mortgage Administration fee (only applicable if you need a mortgage)
- Stamp Duty Return Fee
- Local Authority searches
- Drainage search
- Bankruptcy search
- Environmental search
- Lawyer check fee
- Stamp Duty Land Tax
- Land Registry registration fee
- Land Registry search fee
- Mining search
- Bank transfer fee
- Chancel repair search
All these costs will vary depending on the type of property, the estimated time taken to complete the necessary legal work and the actual law firm themselves.
However, your fixed fee conveyancing quote should give you a reliable exact price for all of these elements, allowing you to budget accordingly.
How Much Should a Conveyancer Cost?
In 2021, the average conveyancing costs for buying a house are £1,040 and £1,000 for selling a house. These are the costs for the UK average house price between £200,000 and £300,000, so if the property you’re buying or selling is more or less expensive, then your conveyancing fees will vary.
Fixed Conveyancing Fees
Fixed fee conveyancing costs will vary depending on the value of the property and the services you require. Your fixed fee conveyancing quote will be made up of:
- Conveyancing solicitor's legal fee
- Third-party services such as searches
Compare My Move work with some fixed fee conveyancing solicitors that can help with the sale or purchase of property. Always ask your conveyancing solicitor upfront for a full breakdown of your quote and what it includes.
Pros and Cons of Fixed Fee Conveyancing
Like anything, there are both positives and negatives when using a fixed fee conveyancing service. We’ve outlined a few important points to help you make an informed decision before finding the right conveyancer for you.
Pros of fixed fee conveyancing:
- It makes budgeting easier as you should have the pre-agreed price to save for, with no hidden charges to surprise you once the process ends.
- There is a higher level of certainty as you are immediately aware of what you should be paying.
- It is a transparent service that can provide peace of mind and ensure you know exactly what you’re paying for and how much.
- It reduces the risk of encountering added engrossment fees.
Cons of fixed fee conveyancing:
- Unclear communication with your solicitor can often lead to misunderstandings over the cost.
- Surprise charges can occur if you don’t read the small print of the quote and the conveyancer's terms and conditions. It’s important to be aware of these and to read everything carefully before continuing.
- The law firm still needs to make a profit and so not all agreements will be the same. Some can be rather expensive to ensure the solicitor makes a higher profit.
No Sale No Fee Guarantee
Different to fixed fee conveyancing, “no sale no fee conveyancing” is a sales agreement from a conveyancer which means if the sale or purchase of the property falls through, you won’t have to pay their legal fees.
You might still have to pay costs to cover the searches or any other third party service that was used. Always confirm with your conveyancing solicitor if they offer a no sale no fee guarantee as well as fixed price conveyancing.
To learn more, read no sale no fee conveyancing.
Avoiding the Risk of Being Overcharged
Using a fixed fee service can help reduce your conveyancing costs. It's important not to forget that the quote should include both the legal fee and the necessary disbursements.
To ensure you’re not being overcharged, you should:
- Carefully read the quote offered to you and ensure it includes the conveyancer's legal fee and applicable disbursements. Read each individual item on the quote and don’t be afraid to query any element you are not sure about.
- If there is a lack of transparency, then consider this a red flag. When comparing quotes, you should be told what services you’re receiving and how much you should be paying. Nothing should be hidden from you.
- As tedious as it may seem, it’s important to look at the Terms and Conditions as you don’t want to be surprised by hidden costs. If the writing indicates that you may be charged for something, question it.