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Purchase of a freehold property

Costs information

Our legal fees cover the work we are required to carry out to complete your purchase, the scope of which will be confirmed in the terms of our engagement with you. Please see below under 'Stages of the process' for a summary of the work we typically carry out for purchases of freehold property.

Generally, we charge on an hourly basis and our hourly rates range from £185 (for a paralegal) to £395 (for a partner) plus VAT. We adopt a partner-led approach so your matter will always have some involvement of a senior member of our UK Real Estate practice. The exact number of hours it will take to complete your purchase will depend on a number of factors such as whether legal title is defective or part of the property is unregistered, whether building regulations or planning permission have been obtained or whether there is delay by any party in providing us with documentation.

No property or property transaction is exactly the same and our legal fees will reflect the particular requirements of your purchase.

For example, dealing with a mortgage funded purchase of a listed house where it is uncertain whether renovation works have been undertaken with all of the necessary consents is likely to be more time intensive (and therefore expensive) than the cash purchase of a freehold house where there are no title or planning issues.

We will provide you with a bespoke fee estimate at the outset of your matter once we have the details of the property you will be purchasing.

In addition to our legal fees, you will need to pay any disbursements incurred in connection with your purchase. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as search fees and Land Registry fees. We will usually handle the payment of disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process. Again, we will give you an indication of the disbursements which are likely to be incurred at the outset of your matter.

Simple transaction – example

By way of illustration, we estimate that our fees for dealing with a straightforward cash purchase of a freehold house in London at a price of £2m with no title or planning issues are likely to be between £3,500 and £4,500 plus VAT (at a rate of 20%) and disbursements. These fees will include the work under 'Stages of the process' below.

The following third party costs (i.e. disbursements) will typically be payable:

Disbursement (inclusive of VAT) £

Local authority search

215.00

Drainage and water search

61.32

Chancel repair search

24.00

Environmental search

94.80

Search provider case charge for online searches

34.20

Land registration fee

455.00

Land Registry OS1 search fee

3.00

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) administration fee

12.00

Lawyer Checker

12.00

Telegraphic transfer fee

18.00 (per transfer)

In addition to the above, SDLT will be payable. You must pay SDLT if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England. In Wales, Land Transaction Tax may be payable if the sale was completed on or after 1 April 2018. For more information about SDLT, please click here.

Timescales

For the transaction in the above illustration, typically, we would expect to be in a position to exchange contracts in around 2-6 weeks from being engaged, depending on a range of factors including: how quickly we are able to complete our client due diligence procedures, the turnaround time for search results and the responsiveness of the seller’s conveyancer. In some circumstances, it may be possible to exchange contracts within a matter of hours of receiving the draft contract and supporting papers (but this is not particularly common).

Assumptions

The above fee estimate assumes the following:

  1. That the property is registered with the Land Registry.
  2. That our investigations do not reveal any legal issues which must be resolved prior to exchange of contracts.
  3. That there are no other unusual problems or complications.
  4. We receive clear and timely instructions from you.

If any of these key assumptions are incorrect or change over time, we would provide a revised scope of work, timetable and fee estimate.

Complicated transaction – an example

If we were dealing with a mortgage funded purchase of the same type of property in the example given above (i.e. a freehold house in London at a price of £2m) but, instead of the purchase being a simple transaction,  there has been a breach of restrictive covenant, unauthorised works have been carried out and there are structural issues with the property, we would expect our fees for the work under 'Stages of the process' below to be in the region of £6,000 to £12,000 plus VAT and disbursements.

In addition to the disbursements above, you might expect to pay the following:

  • Bankruptcy search fees – £2 per person.
  • Indemnity insurance fees – circa £300-£1,500 (but this would depend on a variety of factors including the nature of the risk being covered and level of indemnity required).
Stages of the process

The precise stages involved in the purchase of a freehold residential property vary according to the circumstances. However, broadly speaking, our scope of work will typically involve the following:

  1. Taking your instructions and giving you initial advice.
  2. Approving the contract and if necessary negotiating any required changes with the sellers’ legal advisers. Full review of the legal title to the property, to ensure that the seller is legally entitled to sell the property; and to ensure that there are no onerous covenants or rights which will affect your use and enjoyment of the property; and to ensure that all necessary rights are in place to allow your use of the property for all normal residential purposes.
  3. Carrying out a search with the Local Authority and analysis of the results to ensure amongst other things, that all necessary planning permission and Building Regulations approvals are in place; whether the property abuts a publicly maintainable highway; the results of any Tree Preservation Orders, details of any nearby road schemes, details of any proposed compulsory purchase, and whether there are any orders in place that would create further liabilities.
  4. Carrying out further searches in relation to drainage and water supply, environmental history, chancel repair liability and other locally relevant matters. Analysing the search reports to ensure that there are no onerous liabilities attached to the property.
  5. Corresponding with the sellers’ solicitor to raise additional enquiries to address the results of our research and searches so that any issues that are revealed are clarified and/or dealt with.
  6. Reviewing and commenting as appropriate on your survey.  Please note, however,  that we are not qualified to comment on any technical concerns relating to the building, its structure or value
  7. Providing you with a written summary of our findings from reviewing the legal title and the search reports. Providing you with the contract for your signature, along with a prepared Stamp Duty Land Tax return for filing with HMRC.
  8. Exchanging contracts and carrying out the final pre-completion searches with the Land Registry to ensure that there have been no further amendments to the legal title, and to ensure that you have priority to register your ownership of the property
  9. Preparing the completion statement to show all payments made and received and confirming the balance required in order to complete your purchase.
  10. Raising requisitions on title and checking the replies, including undertakings to redeem the sellers’ existing charges. Drafting and agreeing the relevant transfer document
  11. Completing the purchase; submitting a return to HMRC to account for any Stamp Duty Land Tax to be paid; ensuring that any indemnity policies are in place from the date of completion including the indemnity policy to cover potential chancel repair obligations.
  12. Registering the transaction with the Land Registry and ensuring that your ownership, and any other pertinent matters are correctly recorded.
  13. Forwarding to you a copy of the updated Registers of Title.

The summary above assumes there is no mortgage.

Exclusions

As part of a conveyancing transaction, typically, the following would not be included in the scope of our work:

  • Advice on or preparation of a Declaration of Trust or similar instrument to govern the details of your co-ownership of the property with anyone else.
  • Legal or regulatory advice on the laws of any jurisdiction other than English law or any other jurisdiction specified in the terms of our engagement with you.

We do not provide investment or financial advice or, unless specifically agreed in writing, tax advice.

If applicable, we will price these and any other requirements not typically included in our scope of work separately for you. If necessary, we will, in consultation with you obtain such additional advice as is required from appropriately qualified third parties.

Who will carry out the work

Your work may primarily be carried out by any of the solicitors, trainee solicitors or paralegals in our UK Real Estate practice under partner supervision. Click here for details of the members of our team.

Below is  a list of our hourly rates (we have included our rates both excluding VAT and including VAT).

First Name Last Name Job Title Hourly Rates (excluding VAT) Hourly Rates (including VAT)

Michael

Morris

Group Partner

£395

£474

Shelagh

Mason

Consultant

£395

£474

Donald

Millar

Senior Associate

£330

£396

Anna

Douglass

Senior Associate

£280

£336

Paige

Williams

Paralegal

£185

£222

Jess

Burgess

Paralegal

£185

£222

Trainee Solicitor*

£195

£234

*Our Trainee Solicitors rotate between our firm's different practice areas as part of their training programme. We will provide you with the name of any Trainee Solicitor who may work on your matter (under the supervision of one of the senior members of our team) in the terms of our engagement with you.