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How much are solicitor’s fees for buying a house?

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When you’re buying a house, it’s not just the cost of the property itself that you have to take into account. There’s a whole host of other expenses involved too, including stamp duty, solicitor’s fees and estate agent’s fees. It’s important to account for these to ensure that you can afford to move, as these additional expenses can quickly add up to thousands of pounds.

What fees should I pay when buying a house?

Deposit (at least five per cent)

Whether you’re buying a home for the first time or you’ve done it so many times you feel like a professional, you will need to put down a deposit to secure the house that you wish to purchase. The deposit can be as low as five per cent, however 10 per cent is more usual. For example, a house that’s on the market for £300,000 will require a deposit of at least £15,000 (five per cent), though many mortgage lenders will require a £30,000 upfront payment.

This payment can either be made in cash or using the equity from another house sale. For example, if your £300,000 home has a remaining mortgage of £200,000, you have £100,000 equity in your home. When you sell the house, this money goes to you and can be used towards the purchase of another property.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a tax that must be paid to the government when you buy a new home worth over a certain amount of money. This sum is usually paid to your solicitor, who will then pay it to HMRC on your behalf when the purchase is complete.

The price you need to pay depends on the purchase price of your home. Many people underestimate how costly stamp duty actually is and neglect to include it in their buying calculations. When buying a home that’s under £125,000, you don’t need to pay stamp duty. Below, you can find all of the stamp duty brackets to see which one your home falls under.

Purchase price

Stamp duty rate

Up to £125,000

0 per cent

£125,000.01 to £250,000

2 per cent

£250,000.01 to £925,000

5 per cent

£925,000.01 to £1,500,000

10 per cent

Over £1,500,000.01

12 per cent

It’s worth remembering that you only pay stamp duty on the price of your property over £125,000. For instance, on a home that costs £225,000, no stamp duty is included on the first £125,000.

Calculating stamp duty isn’t too difficult. First, take the price of your home and subtract £125,000 (as you don’t pay tax on this amount). Make a note of this figure and then look at which tax bracket you fall into. Work out the correct percentage based on the figure you’ve just noted down.

Since 2017, first-time buyers don’t need to pay stamp duty on a home that’s worth up to £300,000. If the property is worth between £300,000 and £500,000, no stamp duty is paid on the first £300,000.

Legal fees

Buying or selling a house involves a lot of paperwork. In order to ensure that things are done correctly, documents are drawn up and signed and everything completes on time, a solicitor is needed. The solicitor will also carry out local searches to ensure that there aren’t any local plans in place or potential problems that may hinder the sale.

For these services, most solicitors will charge between £1,000 and £1,500.

Estate agent’s fee

If you’re selling a property as well as purchasing a new one, you’ll have to pay fees to the estate agent.

Nowadays, there are two main avenues you can take to sell your home - high-street estate agents and online estate agents. A high street agent will likely charge you between one and three per cent of the agreed sale price. So for a home that sells for £150,000, the estate agent fees would be between £1,500 and £4,500. It’s hard to predict an exact figure, so you would need to check the fees with your local estate agent.

Online agents tend to be cheaper than brick-and-mortar services, however, they usually charge a one-off fee that is due at the start of the process. If your home doesn’t sell, you wouldn’t receive a refund.

Each avenue has its pros and cons, so weigh these up carefully before putting your current property on the market.

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Surveyor’s fees

It’s recommended that you pay to have your potential new home surveyed. The survey will highlight any issues with the property, such as roof damage, woodworm, dry rot, etc. It may also show if the building is in an area where flooding or subsidence can occur. These things may put you off buying a house and it’s important to find them now and not after you move in.

Surveys vary in price, but usually cost around £300 for a new build and £350 for a modern or standard older property. For a very old or unusual property, the price will increase.

Land Registry

The Land Registry will register your new property under your name. The fee for this is usually around £300 for houses that are priced between £200,000 and £500,000.

How much are fees when buying a house?

With all of the above added together, excluding your deposit, you’d be looking at a payment of around £8,650 if you were buying a home for £225,000 (the UK average).

This could be broken down into the following:

  • Stamp duty -  £2,000
  • Legal fees - £1,500
  • Estate agent fees - £4,500
  • Surveyor’s fees - £350
  • Land Registry fees - £300

You may want or need to take out buildings insurance too, before the process completes. This is because on the day you exchange contracts, the property is legally yours. Having this building insurance already in place means you’re instantly protected against accidents or damage that could be caused.

Do you need a solicitor to buy a house?

You don’t legally need a solicitor when you buy a house, however, they make the process a lot easier. Trying to create legal documents is time consuming and you must include the right information in them, so doing this task yourself is not recommended. 

An alternative to a solicitor is a licensed conveyancer. They can cost slightly less while still getting the job done for you. 

When do I pay solicitor’s fees when buying a house?

Some solicitors may require an upfront initial fee before work begins. This is usually 10 per cent of the total fees. The remaining amount is paid when the house sale is complete. 

Alternatively, the solicitor may request that they are paid in small amounts throughout the process to cover any costs that they have incurred.

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