Conveyancing costs must now be published in detail by law firms, making it easier for homebuyers to shop around.
From 6 December, regulated law firms must list the total price of their conveyancing services, the reason for the charges, the specific services included in the cost, and possible additional fees like VAT.
This has been brought in by the Legal Services Board at the request of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. After reviewing the conveyancing sector in 2016, the Competition and Markets Authority had also asked for transparency to be improved, showing the need for change.
Why the conveyancing process needed more transparency
Recent research by When You Move revealed that almost a third of people were hit with unexpected conveyancing fees when buying a home. Additionally, these charges came out to more than £8,000 on average.
The fees ended up being for additional services, including historical searches, surveys and transaction charges, and valuation reports. When hit with these extra fees, one in five people had to ask friends or family members to help with the costs. A third even took money out of what they had saved for the deposit.
A quarter of homebuyers felt they had been misled by their solicitor about the amount they would charge. And as just one in five firms had previously published their fees online, only 27% of home movers shopped around prior to deciding on a solicitor, according to data from Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Making solicitors publish costs allows consumers to much more easily compare prices. Over the long term, this transparency is also expected to promote competition with law firms and improve homebuyers’ access to solicitors.
A win for homebuyers
Homebuyers have revealed that they want to see improvements in the conveyancing process. A survey by InfoTrack from earlier in 2018 showed 55% of homebuyers thought conveyancers needed to improve their communication, in addition to give more clarity.
Nearly half of homebuyers found the process of choosing a solicitor challenging because they all seemed to offer the same services. This new law pushing solicitors to be more transparent is a big win for homebuyers and will improve the conveyancing process and buying and selling process as a whole.