Moving home can be an exciting time for many of us, but also hectic and costly. The key to a stress-free house move is preparation and planning.
We recently updated our home movers price guide which contains a list of all the expenses you can expect to pay when moving home. We’ve covered stamp duty, estate agent fees, survey and valuation costs and much more.
On this page, you’ll find our guide to legal and conveyancing fees, what you get for your money and how much it will cost you.
What is a Conveyancer and What Work Do They Carry Out?
Conveyancers complete legal work on behalf of sellers and buyers of property in the UK.
When selling a home you can expect your conveyancer to:
- Conducting proof of identity and fraud prevention checks.
- Create a fixture, fittings and contents form for the seller.
- Obtain title deeds from the holder.
- Answer pre-contract questions from the buyer.
- Draft a transfer deed and obtains a settlement figure to repay any mortgage outstanding.
- Receive the proceeds of sale from the buyer’s conveyancer.
- Handle all aspects of the title deeds.
- Transfer funds to the seller.
When buying a property, a conveyancer will:
- Contact the seller’s conveyancer and request a contract pack.
- Check the contract pack and ask and answer pre-contract questions.
- Complete detailed legal searches on behalf of the buyer (see below for more information on searches).
- Form a draft transfer deed and completion form which are then sent to the seller’s conveyancer.
- Contact the buyer’s lender and requests transfer of the funds.
- Accept title and transfer deeds from the seller’s conveyancer.
- Check that the seller has paid any outstanding mortgage.
- Transfer stamp duty finds on behalf of the buyer.
- Insert details of the new property owner into the land registry.
What’s the Difference Between a Conveyancer or Solicitor?
The consumer protection service Which? describes the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor:
Solicitors are qualified lawyers who can offer a wide range of legal services. If you choose to use a solicitor, make sure they have plenty of experience (and preferably specialise) in property law.
Licensed conveyancers only offer conveyancing and/or probate services, but specialise in property law.
What’s Included in a Conveyancing Property Search?
A key part of conveyancing involves legal and property searches. But what are these?
Local Authority Search
This search will reveal if the property:
- Is a listed building.
- Is built in a conservation area.
- Is located in a tree preservation order area or smoke control area.
- Is on contaminated land.
These searches will include:
- Flood risk from either river, stream or sea.
- Erosion, landslip and subsidence risk.
- Waste and landfill check.
Water Drainage and Services Check
This search will reveal any services such as sewers, water or fuel pipelines within the property boundaries and also who is responsible for them.
While a local authority search only looks at the property, a planning search is much broader and will look at the surrounding area with a focus on planning applications.
Planning searches are often separate and do not form part of regular conveyancing searches.
So if a developer has applied for permission to build a hundred homes at the end of your garden, a planning search will reveal this while an authority search won’t. The same applies to planning permission for extensions any neighbours have applied for.
We recommend planning searches if you’re unfamiliar with the area or if there’s land nearby that looks suitable for development.
While a planning search typically covers applications within 250 metres of the property, sometimes dating as far back as 1997, you can instead request a search of a specific area, for example, a parcel of nearby vacant land that concerns you.
Legal and Conveyancing Cost When Moving Home
Our research in 2018 showed that the average cost for conveyancing is £800.
This figure assumes the property is valued at £226,000 (the current average UK house price) and excludes planning searches and disbursements such as land registry fees.
Planning Search Cost
Planning applications, both recent and historical, are stored on a planning register which is maintained by the local authority.
Some councils charge a small fee to access the register while others offer a free limited service.
Below is a screenshot of Surrey Heath’s free planning section of their website.
By entering postcode you can see:
- Nearest three planning applications.
- Details of planning constraints such as conservation area, listed building and specially protected area.
- Council tax band.
How much your conveyancer will charge to carry out a more detailed search and present the information in an easy-to-read format will vary from firm to firm.
A basic search will cost around £100 while a more thorough check can cost several hundred.
How Are Conveyancing Costs Paid?
These costs are paid to the conveyancer in stages, usually in advance of each search.
Conveyancing fees cannot be added to the mortgage loan amount.