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Published: 6 September 2019

If you’re at a point where you’re thinking about buying your first house, you’re probably extremely excited and completely overwhelmed in equal measure.

Well to help you unpick some of the process, we thought we’d briefly shed some light on the legal side. People talk a lot about solicitors or conveyancers when you’re buying, and the costs associated with them, but what does it all mean?

Interestingly, some recent research* we did with soon-to-be and recent first time buyers found almost a quarter of people  (23%) hadn’t really thought about legal fee payments, or were undecided on how to pay them. And there was some real variety in what people anticipated these costs to be, ranging from £500 to £1500. So to make things a bit clearer…

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is an area of law which deals with, amongst other things, the transfer of properties. This is why you’ll hear about needing a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer when you’re buying.

There’s a few places where you’ll be able to search for conveyancers in your local area, including through The Law Society or the CLC. You might also want to ask for a recommendation from family or friends.

Once you’ve ‘instructed’ them your conveyancer’s job will be to:

  • Support you through the process, explaining what needs to be done when
  • Deal with the seller’s conveyancer
  • Liaise with the estate agent and your mortgage lender
  • Obtain a number of different searches to provide information about the property, so you’re fully informed before buying
  • Carefully review documents – including the title deeds of the home you’re buying – and raise any queries with the sellers conveyancer
  • When the time comes, arrange for you to sign the necessary paperwork to complete your purchase
  • Negotiate and agree your exchange date (when the home legally becomes your responsibility) and your completion date (when the balance of the purchase price is transferred and the keys are handed over)
  • Tie up the loose ends after you’ve completed, including paying Stamp Duty (if there’s any to pay), sending a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage provider (if required)

Paying for the legal fees

MoneyHelper estimate the typical cost of legal fees to be between £850 to £1500, including VAT at 20%. In fact, you might value from visiting their site to read up on the cost of buying a house and moving overall.

When it comes to paying for legal fees, in a lot of cases preparation is key. In fact, just over half (57%) of the soon-to-be first time buyers we surveyed said they’d already saved funds to cover their legal fees.

With that in mind, you might want to consider keeping a charges and fees savings pot specifically for the admin side of buying a house. Think of this as a separate pot to the money you’ve been saving for your deposit.

This could be used to cover your conveyancer fees alongside a range of other costs you’ll need to think about, including things like  surveys, insurance, removal costs and mortgage provider charges to name a few! As an example, take a look at our Tariff of Mortgage Charges to get an idea of the types of things we might charge you when taking out a mortgage out with us.

For more information on buying your first home, you might also want to take a look at our First Time Buyers Guide. Happy home buying!

This is intended as a summary only and does not constitute financial or legal advice given by Leeds Building Society. No reliance should be placed on this guide and you must make your own decisions. We recommend that you seek independent financial or legal advice if you have any questions or queries.

Mortgages with Leeds Building Society are subject to eligibility, status and financial standing.

Applicants must be aged 18 years or over. Mortgages are subject to eligibility, status and financial standing.

*Based on an online survey undertaken by Leeds Building Society in June 2019 with 219 people surveyed.

Your property could be repossessed if you don't keep up your mortgage repayments.

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