Changes To Conveyancing and The Impact On Conveyancing Fees

August 25, 2013

Conveyancing used to have a somewhat musty image, conjuring up images of piles of dusty papers and property deeds in a long-forgotten basement. However, in recent years, conveyancing has entered the 21st century, with online conveyancing streamlining the process, and making conveyancing much cheaper.
Solicitors used to hold a monopoly over conveyancing services and had done so from 1804 onwards, hence the image of conveyancing as being a somewhat archaic and impenetrable process.

Conveyancing is not a world of secret handshakes and nods and winks, however; but is simply the processing of legal paperwork so that ownership of a property can be transferred and registered officially at the Land Registry.

In October 2012, the Land Registry reduced its fees, which you will pay to your conveyancing firm via your property disbursements. The new fee structure is as follows:

Value or amount of property             Fee

£0 – £50,000                                                  £40

£50,001 – £80,000                                      £70

£80,001 – £100,000                                    £120

£100,001 – £200,000                                  £190     

£200,001 – £500,000                                   £270

£500,001 – £1,000,000                                £540

£1,000,001 and over                                   £910


The deeds to a property are passed from one owner to another and are held by a mortgage lender, such as a high street bank or building society until the mortgage is paid off, when the deeds pass to the owner of the property.

The Land Registry records details of ownership of any property and as these records are now mainly stored electronically, the rise of online conveyancing means they are easily and quickly obtained during the conveyancing process. The only exception to this may be in the case of listed buildings or historical deed which may still be in paper format.

Compare quotes from conveyancing solicitors for free using our conveyancing fee calculator for property buying or selling.

Conveyancing in the UK was modernised in 1985, when the government allowed licensed conveyancers who were not solicitors to practise.

Since then property solicitors have had to fight harder for their share of the market.

The Law Society of England and Wales and the Law Society of Scotland also regulate conveyancing solicitors, so there is more emphasis on delivering good service and more attention given to consumer protection in the conveyancing services sector.

Before the rise of online conveyancing, when costs were pushed down by documents being stored electronically, solicitors used to charge a percentage of the value of the property as their fee. Nowadays, there is stiff competition among conveyancers and property solicitors and deals online might be as low as £98 plus VAT.

These deals may not however offer everything required in the conveyancing process, or may incur additional charges. But solicitors and licensed conveyancers will now often offer a set fee for conveyancing services, with extra work also being covered by a set fee rather than an hourly rate, which in the case of conveyancing professionals might be as much as £200-£300 per hour plus VAT for their services.

The conveyancing process also used to take around eight weeks, but online conveyancing has speeded this up. Processing conveyancing quickly and efficiently can be crucial to buying the home you want and many buyers have faced heartbreak and financial loss as a result of conveyancers and property solicitors who failed to complete the process to deadline.

In the 1980s, this could lead to widespread gazumping and although it is possible to take legal action against solicitors or conveyancing professionals for negligence, many buyers could not afford to do this even if negligence was the cause of their home sale or purchase falling through.

Regulation by the Law Society means that redress in these cases is now easier and regulation also acts as an added incentive for conveyancing professionals to complete quickly.

Licensed conveyancers as opposed to conveyancing solicitors are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

In England and Wales, the Law Society has also introduced a Conveyancing Quality Scheme which conveyancing solicitors have to apply to for accreditation. The CQS logo means that a firm will offer conveyancing services to a high professional standard, with an emphasis on customer satisfaction. Firms which fail to meet the required standard can lose their CQS accreditation.

The Law Society has also supported the introduction of conveyancing panels, which lenders such as high street banks and building societies set up. Firms of conveyancing solicitors or licensed conveyancers have to apply to a lender to be a member of its conveyancing panel; and although some lenders may insist their mortgage customers use a member firm of its own conveyancing panel, consumers are free to choose their own conveyancing firm, although may end up paying two sets of conveyancing fees if they do.

Conveyancing for a freehold property is likely to be cheaper than the process for buying a leasehold property, as the lease has to be read by the buyer’s conveyancer and queries may result. Homebuyers should budget for their conveyancing and opt for a set fee, but make sure this will include all the stages of the process and also enquire about any additional costs before agreeing to the deal.

And remember to shop around for your conveyancing quotes, obtaining quotes rather than estimates from a range of providers, including online firms and high street conveyancing firms.

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Category: Conveyancing Guide, Conveyancing Laws

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