When purchasing a shared ownership property (or any property for that matter), you will need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. It is worth getting a few quotations from different firms for a comparison of costs, but it is important to look beyond the “headline fee” to find out what each solicitor is actually charging for their services.
By Andrew Theoff, Managing Partner, Direction Law
What fees should you expect in your quotation?
Legal Fees – this is the fee the solicitor charges for their services. This can differ depending on the purchase price of the property and whether it is leasehold or freehold.
Bank transfer fees - this is a fee for organising the bank transfer of the purchase monies to the seller.
Preparing Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) form - HMRC must be notified about property transactions on a Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return. Your solicitor will do this on your behalf and charge a fee for doing so.
Mortgage lender fee – This is the fee a solicitor charges for acting for the mortgage lender.
Most firms charge for the above items, but the amounts vary from firm to firm, resulting in very different final charges. Some firms will charge other fees which may be contained in their Terms of Service, so make sure that you get a copy of these before deciding who to instruct.
What about “disbursements”?
These are expenses payable to third parties as part of the conveyancing transaction. They are paid via your solicitor to the third party; however, they can still vary from firm to firm.
Bankruptcy search fee – this costs £2 per name searched and should be the same irrespective of which firm you instruct.
HM Land Registry Search fee – This is another low-cost search and irrespective of which firm you instruct, the fee payable to the Land Registry will be the same.
Search fees – There are other searches that the solicitor needs to do as part of the conveyancing process. Depending on the provider used and which searches are completed, the amount quoted may vary from firm to firm.
Land Registry registration fee – This is a fee for the registration of your title to the property. There is a prescribed fee scale, based on the purchase price of the share, plus rent. Irrespective of which firm you instruct, the fee payable to the Land Registry will be the same.
Stamp Duty Land Tax – as this is a tax the rules are the same irrespective of which firm does the conveyancing. The amount is calculated based on factors such as the property price, the share being purchased, and whether you are a first-time buyer.
If you get quotes which show different Land Registry fees or SDLT amounts, you should query it as one of them must be wrong!
Finally, there are some other things which a buyer of a new build shared ownership property ought to budget for:
It is standard practice for the HA’s solicitors to charge certain fees to the buyer. These vary and will not be known when you obtain an initial quotation.
There may be further fees payable to a superior landlord or managing agent.
HAs generally ask buyers to pay on completion the rent and service charge up to the end of the month of completion and for the whole of the following month.
These amounts will be the same irrespective of which firm of solicitors you use, but most firms do not mention these items in their quotation.
It is important to make sure you read the quotes you get carefully and don’t be afraid to seek clarification. Be careful of cheap headline fees because often they aren’t as economical as they seem.
Although this article focuses on fees, it is worth noting that price is only one factor. Buyers should also consider experience, expertise, recommendation and customer service when choosing their solicitor.
Every year Direction Law acts for thousands of conveyancing clients. As well as dealing with traditional conveyancing we have large specialist teams dealing with all aspects of affordable housing, shared ownership and newbuild properties.