12 October 2023

Conveyancing: legal costs explained

By Nic Sheldrake, Property Director, Hayes + Storr.

When making the decision to move, whether you are upsizing, downsizing, moving for work or to accommodate the children’s ever-growing need for space, it’s good to be able to budget so that you know the move is with your means.

Estate agents’ costs are clear as they are able to charge a percentage of the property value and do not need to break down what they are charging. Legal charges must be broken down into the fees we charge for the work we do and the expenses we have to pay on your behalf, often referred to as disbursements. This means that legal charges can be confusing if not explained well.

Our fees

This is the fee you pay us for dealing with the transaction. Normally charged on a sliding scale dependant on the value of the property and the nature of the transaction. A sale of a freehold property will attract a lower fee to that of a leasehold property due to the complexity of the leasehold tile and the additional work required.

You may find lawyers who have a low base fee but then add on extras such as a fee for acting for your lender and a fee for completing the HMRC stamp duty return, which we believe are part and parcel of the work we do for you in the conveyancing process. We do not charge extra for this work.


These are the expenses we pay on your behalf during the transaction. For example, we will need to obtain an up-to-date copy of your title document which we buy from the Land Registry. We will need to obtain searches when acting in your purchase and again we buy these on your behalf, usually through a search provider. These costs are funded from monies we ask you for on account at the outset of the transaction. There is no “profit element” attached and what they cost is what you pay. To ensure clarity throughout the transaction, we will usually bill these expenses as they are incurred.

Stamp Duty/Estate Agents Fees

When stamp duty is payable, we will ask you for those monies on account. This will normally be when contracts have been exchanged and we ask you for the monies required to completion the purchase. We will ensure that the HMRC is paid within 14 days of completion so as to avoid any interest or penalties for late payment. Usually, payment is made on the day of completion to ensure there are no complications.

When you are dealing with the sale of a property, we will pay the estate agents on your behalf straight out of the sale proceeds. This is of course subject to your instructions but does save you a job on a day when you are likely to be very busy.

We are more than happy to provide a fee estimate by email but do prefer to talk the transaction through with you so that we have a complete picture before providing details of the charges.

Please contact Nic Sheldrake on 01328 863231 or email nic.sheldrake@hayes-storr.com. If you are unable to speak to someone immediately, one of our specialist property team will be happy to call you back to discuss your particular requirements and to provide a no obligation fee estimate.