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Hidden charges in conveyancing fees

06 February 2018

Don’t get caught out by hidden charges in conveyancing fees

If you’re moving house or buying a property, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the best deal for your conveyancing fees. But don’t confuse ‘best’ with ‘cheapest’. What may at first seem like a bargain-basement conveyancing quote often leads to a final conveyancing bill that is significantly larger than you expected.

This is because some conveyancing solicitors hide a whole host of hidden extras in the conveyancing fee small print. So at first glance the basic quote looks nice and low, but factor in the hidden extras and suddenly the deal does not look so enticing. And it’s not just about the final cost, there’s an ethical element, too – do you really want your conveyancing affairs being handled by the type of firm that tries to bump up its fees with sneaky hidden extras?

Here are some examples of the kinds of conveyancing fee hidden extras to look out for when you’re comparing conveyancing quotes:

PI (Professional Indemnity) contribution

Some conveyancing solicitors charge you a ‘PI fee’ or ‘professional indemnity contribution’. But PI insurance is a requirement for all solicitors. As such it should be part of their basic conveyancing fee, and not passed on as an ‘extra’ charge.

Leasehold property fee

If you’re buying a leasehold property, the solicitor may charge you an additional fee for dealing with lease documents. But again, the solicitor should already know if the property is leasehold or not when they are putting the conveyancing quote together for you, so it should be included as part of the overall conveyancing fee.

Administration fees

This is an additional charge for things like telephone calls, photocopying, faxes and postage. But can you imagine any other service charging you extra if they have to use the phone or send a fax? How else do they expect to do their job? Again, this should be included in the total conveyancing fee quoted by the solicitor.

Lender dealing fees

Dealing with mortgage lenders is part and parcel of most conveyancing transactions. They are usually the people funding the deal after all, so again it should be included in  the basic fee, not charged as an additional fee as if it were an occasional optional extra.

Stamp duty and tax return fee

Everyone needs to pay stamp duty (if the property value is above the threshold) and fill out tax returns when they buy and sell property. You shouldn’t have to pay your solicitor extra to do this – it’s just part of the conveyancing process, so make sure it is included in the conveyancing quotes you obtain.

Online ID Fee

All solicitors are required by law to check the identity of their conveyancing clients in order to comply with money laundering regulations. It is standard practice and can be done quickly and simply online, which in fact makes the solicitor’s life much easier, so no reason for it to be charged as an extra.

There is a long list of other charges that some unscrupulous conveyancing solicitors may use to bump up their fees. Rest assured, this will never happen at Lyons Wilson. Our standard charges include many of the things other conveyancing solicitors charge extra for, such as:

  • Completing Land Registry application forms
  • Repaying a mortgage on your sale
  • Dealing with leasehold properties
  • Acting for the mortgage lender on your purchase
  • Completing the stamp duty land tax return to HMRC (required in all cases, even when the price is below the stamp duty threshold)
  • Postage

So when you’re comparing quotes, always read the small print and double check precisely what's included in the price to make sure there are no ‘hidden extras’ to surprise you further down the line.

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