Hidden conveyancing quote charges compound house price misery

03 Dec 2012

With the figures released only days ago by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) highlighting the impact of high house prices on a generation of young people, it is even more important that conveyancing solicitors and all other non-solicitor conveyancers are completely transparent about their charges so as not to add even more hardship on the very people they count on to stay in business.

All conveyancing quotes cover two things – the conveyancers’ own time and charge, and the payments they have to make (or claim to make) to third parties. But accounts of hidden and disguised conveyancing charges continue.

Conveyancing quotes that seem very cheap to attract your business, are then secretly bumped up with a big surprise in store at the end through disguised, buried and  hidden charges. Here are the two main types to avoid:

1. Invented third party costs/disbursements

They can include:

a.  A contribution to the conveyancers' own professional indemnity insurance. That is the conveyancers' own business overhead just the same as lighting in their building.
b.  Photocopying, telephone and postage contribution – again, just an overhead.
c.  Stamp Duty tax return – this is a reference to the conveyancers' own time that you are paying for and should form part of their own charge, not a disbursement.

2. Extra charges buried in fine print and sent out in writing after you receive a verbal quote, but which almost always apply – and all of which should form part of the conveyancers own upfront charge:

a.  Meeting with you without a pre-arranged appointment.
b.  Having to communicate with your Landlord or their managing agent on a sale of your leasehold property.
c.  Having to serve a notice of change of ownership on a Landlord if you buy a leasehold property.
d.  A fee if there is less than 2 (or less or more) working weeks between exchange and completion.
e.  A simultaneous exchange and completion fee.
f.  A compulsory charge for checking identification.
g.  A charge for obtaining copies of planning permissions or building regulation approvals.
h.  Having to write to an occupier to require them to sign a letter giving up their right to stay following completion.
i.  Preparing any statutory declaration needed to satisfy a buyer.
j.  Taking out or approving a Legal Indemnity Insurance policy (per policy).
k.  Sending you copy a copy of your own registered Title Deed following completion of your lawyer's application for registration.
l.  An additional charge for copying and sending your deeds to you after completion.
m.  Asking additional questions on a purchase.

Avoid conveyancing quotes which take advantage of you, and find a conveyancer that puts your best interest first. Look for CQS and Lexcel acrredited conveyancing solicitors.