Conveyancing fees often opaque but In-Deed transparency is way forward

A review of solicitors' firms in England and Wales shows that some are not as open with clients when it comes to bills for conveyancing services

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) visited a representative sample of 40 legal firms across England and Wales who offer conveyancing services and carried out detailed analysis of a total of 80 property purchases.

Quotes did not include essential costs

Its finding revealed that a third (34 percent) of quotes failed to include essential fees and charges for services that are needed to complete any conveyancing transaction.

That meant clients had a false sense of how much their conveyancing costs were going to be.

For clients of In-Deed, there is no question of this kind of opaqueness or of being misled about the full costs of conveyancing. We pride ourselves on always being completely transparent about all the fees and charges involved in conveyancing so no home buyer or seller is surprised by the final bill.

In their review, the SRA noted that clients were routinely not told they would have to pay for the likes of bank transfers, administration fees for mortgages, arranging the legal work for gifted deposits or the cost of accessing online portals.

Misleading ideas of total bill

Often these fees would be left off initial quotes that gave clients a misleading idea of how much their total costs would be, said the SRA.

More than a third (37 percent) of the firms involved in the review did not tell their clients of the mark-up they added to the charges laid by banks for telegraphic transfer of funds. In some cases, clients paid up to 10 times more than the bank fee.

Monitoring pricing

Anna Bradley is chair of the SRA. She said the body intended to monitor how solicitor firms published their conveyancing pricing on websites.

She added: "It is disappointing to see examples of poor practice in conveyancing, which is so important to so many people. People should be able to rely on their solicitors to be open about what their services will cost and to explain the potential financial and legal implications of any transaction."