Buying a house is an exciting milestone, whether you’re doing it for the very first time or you’ve been through the process before. But it can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when it comes to figuring out how much it is going to cost you.
One of the key costs involved are solicitors fees, which can encompass a wide range of services like creating and reviewing contracts, carrying out different types of checks and other costs.
In this article, we’ll look specifically at how much you can expect to pay in solicitor’s fees when buying a house.
The Role of a Solicitor in Buying a House
Buying a house is a big deal – and a complex legal process. A solicitor can help you make sense of what needs to be done and carry out a variety of important tasks like:
Legal Checks: Your solicitor will perform thorough checks to ensure the property you're interested in doesn't have any hidden legal issues, like unpaid debts or disputes.
Contracts: They'll help draw up and review contracts between you and the seller. Contracts outline the terms of the sale, such as the price, what's included, and the agreed-upon completion date.
Searches: Your solicitor will conduct searches to find out more about the property and its surroundings. These searches can uncover things like potential flooding risks or planning restrictions.
Paperwork: There's a lot of paperwork involved in buying a house. Your solicitor will take care of this, making sure everything is properly filled out and submitted.
Money Transfers: They'll oversee the transfer of funds between you, the seller, and any lenders involved. This ensures that everyone gets paid the right amount at the right time.
Do You Need a Solicitor To Buy A House?
If you’re wondering, "Can't I just handle all this myself?" The answer is, yes. You could. There’s no legal requirement to hire a property solicitor. But buying a house is a major financial and legal transaction, and using a solicitor can give you the peace of mind that everything is being taken care of correctly.
Regardless of whether you’re a first-time buyer or someone who's been through this before, a solicitor is a great help in the house buying process that can make sure you're not caught off guard by unexpected legal complexities.
Understanding Solicitor Fees When Buying a House
So, let’s talk about money.
Solicitor fees when buying a house cover the services provided by your solicitor and the associated costs of the legal process. These are usually referred to as conveyancing fees.
Conveyancing fees consist of several components, each serving a specific purpose.
These are the main charges for your solicitor's professional services. They cover tasks like legal checks, paperwork, and negotiations.
Disbursements are third-party costs that your solicitor pays on your behalf. These can include charges for property searches, Land Registry fees, and more.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
VAT is a tax added to most goods and services in the UK. It's an additional cost on top of the basic fees and disbursements. The current VAT rate is typically a percentage of the overall fees.
The Breakdown: Putting It Together
Imagine you're buying a house for £250,000, and your solicitor's basic fees amount to £1,000. On top of that, you have disbursements of £300 and a 20% VAT charge. Here's how the breakdown would look:
Basic Fees: £1,000
VAT (20% of £1,300): £260
Total Solicitor Fees: £1,560
While the above is just an example, understanding this breakdown helps you see where your money is going and why it's essential to consider all aspects of the fees.
Why Transparency Matters
Transparency is key when it comes to solicitor fees. A reputable solicitor will provide you with a detailed breakdown of costs upfront. This allows you to compare quotes from different solicitors and make an informed decision about who to work with.
At Lawhive, we're all about making legal help and advice accessible and affordable for everyone, so most of our quotes are given on a fixed-fee basis with a complete breakdown of what your property solicitor will do for the fee they are charging you. No hidden fees, and no nasty shocks guaranteed!
Factors Influencing Legal Fees
Solicitor fees aren't set in stone; they can vary based on a range of factors including (but not limited to):
The value of the property you're buying has a significant impact on solicitor fees. Generally, the higher the property value, the more complex the legal work involved. This is because higher-value properties often have more legal considerations and potential issues that require thorough examination.
Believe it or not, the location of the property also affects solicitor fees. Properties in different areas might have distinct legal requirements or searches, which can influence the amount of work your solicitor needs to do. For instance, properties in conservation areas might require additional checks.
The complexity of the transaction itself plays a role. If you're involved in a more intricate deal, such as a leasehold property purchase, shared ownership, or buying with a Help to Buy scheme, your solicitor may need to invest more time and expertise, affecting the overall fees.
Additional Legal Services
Sometimes, you might require additional legal services beyond the standard home-buying process. For instance, if you're purchasing a property that comes with ongoing legal disputes or potential boundary issues, your solicitor's workload will likely increase, leading to higher fees.
Online vs. In-Person
Many solicitors offer online services, which can sometimes lead to reduced fees due to streamlined processes. There are many benefits to working with a solicitor online, including efficiency and convenience.
Given the various factors at play, it's best to obtain a personalised quote from potential solicitors. By sharing the specifics of your property and situation, you'll receive a more accurate estimate of the fees involved.
Property Solicitor Fee Structures Explained
When it comes to solicitor fees, different solicitors may use various fee structures such as fixed fees, hourly rates, no sale, no fee, disbursement markups, or a combination of all of the above.
No sale, no fee fee structures mean that you won’t be charged by your solicitor if the property purchase falls through for reasons beyond your control.
Selecting the appropriate fee structure depends on your comfort level with uncertainty, your budget, and the complexity of the transaction. Always get detailed information about what each fee structure covers to make an informed choice.
Average solicitor fees for buying a house in the UK
Understanding the average solicitor fees in the UK for 2023 is essential for budgeting effectively when buying a house. While the actual fees can vary based on factors we've looked at earlier, having a general idea can help you set realistic expectations.
Below is a table with average solicitor fees based on the property price range. Please note that these figures are approximate averages and can vary. Additionally, VAT is usually applied on top of these fees, adding another layer of cost. The only way to know exactly how much you’ll pay is to get a quote from a property solicitor.
Property Price Range
Average Solicitor Fees (Approx.)
Up to £150,000
£150,000 - £250,000
£1,000 - £1,500
£250,000 - £350,000
£1,200 - £1,800
£350,000 - £500,000
£1,500 - £2,200
Other Costs To Consider
The cost of buying a house isn’t just restricted to solicitor fees. There are a number of expenses beyond a solicitor’s services that are part of the legal process such as:
Land Registry Fees
Local Authority Searches
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)
VAT on disbursements
Some of these fees might be included in your solicitor’s fee, but sometimes they might not. So, it’s always best to check with your solicitor as to what is included for the fee they give you. This not only brings you clarity, but will also help you budget for the process.
The Value of A Solicitor’s Help In Buying A House
At the heart of this guide lies the recognition that the value of having qualified professionals by your side cannot be overstated.
For many, buying a house is more than a financial transaction; it's the realisation of a dream, the creation of a home, and the foundation of memories to come. Finding the right property solicitor to assist you in the realisation of that dream makes all the difference.
At Lawhive, we are committed to helping everyone access legal help and advice at affordable prices. If you’re in the process of buying a house, we can help you find a solicitor to help in less than 5 minutes, and give you a fixed-fee quote on your required services.
In most cases, we can also get you set up and working with the best property solicitors on the same day, so you can get the process started, and finished, as quickly as possible. To get started, simply tell us about your case, and we’ll take care of the rest.