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Solicitors don't go through years of training to earn a pittance. It costs a lot to hire a solicitor to do almost any sort of work for you and conveyancing is no exception. The costs of conveyancing work can be broken down into solicitor's fees and disbursements.

A solicitor will charge you a basic fee for undertaking the conveyancing work associated with the sale of your property. This covers their time spent on taking your instruction, advising you, working on the contract refinements, liasing with the other party's solicitor, explaining the contract to you, obtaining your signature, exchanging contracts and basically dealing with all other related matters.

Expect to pay anything from £250 to £750. Make sure that you fix the fee before they start work, if at all possible. This should be in the form of a written quotation and not an estimate. This should avoid a huge bill if there are unexpected complications. Some solicitors will link the level of the fee to the value of your home, which seems to be a common phenomenon in property transactions. Others will have a catch-all price which is set regardless of the property value. Conveyancing work on a leasehold property may be more expensive due to the additional work that is incurred as a result of dealing with the lease.

Remember that VAT will be added to the price that you are quoted.

If you are buying and selling a property through the same solicitor, you will normally be able to get a quote that includes a combined fee for both sets of activities. This usually offers you some savings on the separate cost of the fees. Expect to pay anything from £500 to £1500 depending on the price of the properties involved and the general charging structure of the solicitor involved.

Disbursements are expenses that the solicitor incurs on your behalf in association with the work they are performing for you. There are quite a number of disbursements that you will be charged as the buyer of a property, such as stamp duty (a government tax on purchases), a local authority search fee, water authority search fee and the £200 land registry fees. As a seller, you are much more fortunate, as the only real common disbursement is an £8 land registry fee!

When you pay
You normally only have to pay the costs of the solicitor once the balance of the payments from the buyer's solicitors have been received. Some solicitors may ask for their fees up front, but this is not as common.

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