Finding a good quality, low cost conveyancing solicitor’s service for a house move or property sale or purchase can be a difficult undertaking. Often, when several quotes are obtained from different solicitors for the same house sale or purchase the items detailed as costs and fees can vary. How do you make any sense of it without getting ripped off or qualifying as a conveyancer yourself?
All legal costs incurred when buying or selling a property can be divided into two separate categories.
Charges paid to third parties are known as “disbursements” and do not form part of the solicitor’s legal fees or profit costs. It is important to note this distinction as in most cases the disbursements should be the same (or a very similar) amount for all the quotes you have obtained. Buying or selling a house is a process like any other and although variations in practice exist, fundamentally, all property transactions must follow a similar process. Where a particular quote includes substantially different disbursements this could be a cause for concern.
All solicitors are required under the professional rules to set out fees and disbursements separately. A solicitor setting out a fee as a disbursement could well be breaching those rules and in any event would probably not be someone you would want to do business with. To successfully compare quotes you will first need to find out which of the two kinds of fees the item shown on the quote falls into, fees or disbursements.
Fees for your solicitor’s time are the actual profit costs of the conveyancing solicitor, the amount you are actually being charged for their time and expertise. These often include administrative charges required for the successful completion of a sale or purchase transaction, such as bank transfer fees (sometimes called telegraphic transfer fees or similar) and identification searches. Such items fall into the fees category. Some may also charge separately for more general items such as postage, faxing and copying, file storage, contribution to professional indemnity amongst others. Once again these form part of the fees and should be added together to get the total cost likely to be incurred with a particular solicitor.
According to the BBC Website the average solicitors fees in England and Wales for dealing with the sale or purchase of a property tend to come in around the £550.00 mark, not including vat and exclusive of disbursements. How do your quotes compare?
You should also bear in mind that even when fixed fees are charged, no solicitor can ever promise that the final legal bill will not amount to more than the quote given at the outset of the transaction. Legal issues are rarely straight forward and it is always possible that matters could arise during the course of the transaction that could affect the final amount you will be required to pay.
It should also be noted that the cheapest quote does not necessarily represent the best value for money so make sure you shop around, obtain at least three quotes from different services providers and compare both the cost and the level of service before you commit yourself and go ahead and instruct conveyancing solicitors to act on your behalf.