There are obvious advantages to a fixed fee structure in conveyancing. It means you will not be surprised by unexpected costs, regardless of any complications that emerge during the conveyancing process. You can budget with confidence. You may wonder, however, just how much the fixed fee will remain fixed, or if there are exceptions outside of that standard rate.
Fixed fee conveyancing, is, on the surface, self-explanatory. Conveyancers such as Sam Conveyancing will provide a quote at the beginning of your interaction that covers all likely aspects of the legal work involved in buying and/or selling your house. It stands in contrast to hourly rates, which often allow costs to grow exponentially and in unpredictable ways, with you receiving an extortionate bill at the end. You do, however, need to check the solicitor’s fine print to ensure that their quote does cover everything you will need and be aware of any potential third-party charges that may arise separately.
Standard conveyancing charges
These are the services that should be included in the fixed fee quote for any standard piece of conveyancing work:
Client identification checks.
Both of these are legal requirements that must be carried out regardless of the buyer or seller’s identity.
Reviewing and drafting documents.
This includes the documents that the seller sends to you and those that you need to send to the seller. There can be variations depending on the complexity of the transaction, but they tend to follow a similar basic structure and therefore cost.
Once documents have been reviewed, it may be necessary for your solicitor to seek clarification or extra information. Legal enquiries are a standard part of the conveyancing process that should not cost extra.
There may also be enquiries to or from the mortgage lender. Other aspects of mortgage administration are also likely to come under the solicitor’s fixed fee, as they feature in the vast majority of sales.
From ordering the initial searches to advising when additional searches are necessary to helping report and explain the results, this is a vital part of the conveyancer’s role.
A disbursement is a fee paid on your behalf to a third party. It is a common area for unexpected costs to arise, but standard payments to the seller (or their solicitor), bank or HMRC should still come under the fixed fee.
Signing and exchange of contracts
Another standard and essential part of the conveyancing process, you should not expect additional fees just for the solicitor’s role in exchange of contracts. Contract-related costs could include administration and archiving. This is a fairly standardised procedure that normally follows a fairly predictable script. The bulk of the work has already been done at this point. The fixed fee should continue to apply right through to completion.
After completion, there may be some other tasks such as filing a stamp duty tax return or registering with the Land Registry, and these can still be covered by the fixed fee. In some situation, such as for a leasehold properties, administration and enquiries may be more complicated so be aware that this may lead to a higher initial quote.
With all legal transactions, it is important to review the details of every agreement carefully and to ensure that it is tailored to the specifics of your situation. A fixed fee can simplify the conveyancing process, but you still need to be aware of what is covered by your quote and if there are any potential adjustments to make or extras to add.