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Conveyancing FAQs: The Solicitor's Quote

by Maurice Carroll

The law does not make it mandatory for a prospective property investor to hire the services of a conveyancing solicitor. However, a large number of prospective first-time homeowners find DIY conveyancing to be cumbersome.

Homeowners are often advised to get and compare a number of quotes from different conveyancing solicitors as they strive to make their pick. With this in mind, this article provides answers to three questions that a prospective first-time homeowner may have in relation to the conveyancing solicitor's quote.

What Should One Check For When Inspecting The Solicitor's Quote? 

Hoping that the conveyancing solicitor did a good job at breaking down the various costs in his or her quote, homeowners should look for three types of charges. These are:

  • Legal fees: This is money paid to the solicitor for all services rendered. It often includes charges for receiving assistance from the solicitor's staff (e.g. paralegals)
  • Disbursement fees: This is money that the solicitor pays to third party agencies in the form of various fees (e.g. stamp duty and land registry fees)
  • VAT: This is the government's cut.

When comparing quotes from different solicitors, prospective homeowners should be keen on the disbursement costs indicated on each quote. The disbursement costs should be uniform across all quotes. Prospective home buyers should question solicitors whose quotes feature disbursement expenses that are not indicated on quotes from other solicitors.

What Is The Cost Of Falling Through?

In a large number of cases, prospective home buyers will find that the "cost of falling through" has been indicated within a conveyancing solicitor's quote. This amount indicated as the cost of falling through is what the home buyer will need to pay in the event that they end up not buying the property, whatever the reason.

Conveyancing solicitors use the "cost of falling through" to cushion themselves against potential losses. However, the cost of falling through is not a standard inclusion in all conveyancing quotes. This is because some solicitors have a "no move, no fee" policy that exempts their clients from paying the legal fees described above in the event that the transaction falls through. In many of such cases however, clients are required to cater for disbursement fees.

When Is Enough… Enough?

Prospective home buyers should be careful not to get carried away by the process of comparing conveyancing quotes. A handful of quotes should be enough.

For example, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to compare quotes from twenty solicitors in a bid to save 50 AUD when the value of the home to be acquired is in the hundreds of thousands. Be wise!