The Berwins' Approach
Berwins’ strapline is “no ordinary lawyers” and this this something we try to aspire to every day.
You will have come to us as you want to buy or sell a house – the most expensive and one of the most important assets in your life and we appreciate that. We also understand that there may be circumstances surrounding the transaction such as divorce, death or ill health which may make an already stressful time in your life even more intense.
By getting to know you and providing a bespoke and personal service, we aim to guide you through the transaction making the whole process as smooth as possible.
This aim translates to following services that we provide:
- Each new client is assigned to a lawyer* specialising in property law. In addition to this a named assistant will also be assigned
- Our Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited team of 12, consists of 5 Lawyers and their assistants, a Team Assistant and Post Completion Team, the full team can be seen here.
- The team is supervised by Jo Randall, a solicitor with 27 years’ experience and director of the firm and member of the Law Society Property Section.
- We pride ourselves in keeping in regular contact with you, and tailored to suit you – whether that’s face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, email updates, text messages, whichever method you prefer
- We have particularly good relationships with the local estate agents in the local area. We know them well and as well as keeping you informed we make sure that they know what is happening with your matter. We have been described by one agent as “Deal Makers, not Deal Breakers” and that is how we like to think we treat each and every one of our matters
- We know the local experts who can help us solve a problem if it occurs be it Japanese Knotweed or a tricky planning issue
- Should issues arise of a different nature such as inheritance tax, family law issues or commercial property we can immediately refer to our in-house team of specialist lawyers in those fields.
Fees and Expenses
Our fees cover all of the legal work required to complete the purchase of your new home, including dealing with registration at the Land Registry and dealing with the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (Stamp Duty) if the property is in England, or Land Transaction Tax (Land Tax) if the property you wish to buy is in Wales.
If you are selling a property we will draft the contract, reply to the buyers’ enquiries and deal with the release of any mortgage over the property.
In addition to the fees that Berwins charge, there will be expenses payable to third parties (often referred to as disbursements). Typical expenses for a sale and purchase comprise:
- Purchase search fees which are approximately £269.26 (including VAT)
- HM Land Registry fee – vary from £20 upwards and depends on the purchase price – we will confirm the fee due but you can check yourself using the Land Registry fee calculator: Land Registry Calculator
- Electronic money transfer fee £42 (including VAT) for each time monies are transferred, for example, on a sale/purchase if there is a balance to the client this charge will apply.
- Estate Agent’s commission (you will typically have already agreed this on your sale) this will be subject to VAT
- On a purchase: Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)– we will confirm this at the early stage of your transaction but we recommend you check yourself here, if the property is located in Wales by using the Welsh Revenue Authority's website here. Please note that SDLT can apply to some transfers of equity (particularly where the property is subject to a mortgage)
- Land Registry Search Fees. These are the final searches that we will carry out prior to completion of a purchase. These are £2.40 and £3.60 (both including VAT) depending on the search.
- Official Copies of the Register which we will obtain at the outset of a sale. These are £3 per entry.
- Lawyer Checker fee of £10 plus vat. This is the search that we carry out on a purchase to make sure that the seller’s solicitors’ bank details are genuine. This is a security check now necessary to combat fraud.
Berwins’ Legal Fees
In the vast majority of cases we will provide a fixed fee quotation for your property matter.
Our charges start at around £550 plus VAT and expenses for a freehold sale.
We set out below two illustrative estimates of a purchase and a sale.
- Property: 123 High Street – a freehold house being sold for £199,000 by a sole owner with no mortgage.
- Fees: Our fees would be £800plus VAT and expenses as set out above
- Property: 137 High Street – a freehold semi detached house being purchased for £425,000 by a married couple (owning as joint tenants – what does this mean – see here) with a mortgage.
- Fees: Our fees would be £875 plus VAT and expenses as set out above.
This represents Berwins’ fees only and do not include SDLT, Land Registry charges or estate agency commission as referred to above. Please note that these fixed fees are based on the assumptions referred to below.
Berwins Fees for leasehold properties are higher than a standard freehold purchase/sale as the ownership of the property is more complex and the Landlord/Management Company are also involved in providing information and replies and enquiries. In addition, costs paid to other companies/people will be higher as they will include:-
- Notice of Transfer fee (payable to the Landlord or Management Company) – This fee if chargeable should be set out in the lease. Often the fee is between £10 and £350 and VAT may be charged (you will be informed if this is the case).
- Notice of Charge fee (if the property is to be mortgaged and payable to the Landlord/Management Company) – This fee should be set out in the lease. Often the fee is between £10 and £350.
- Deed of Covenant fee – This fee is set by the Landlord/Management Company for the property and can be difficult to estimate. Often it is between £75 and £350.
- Certificate of Compliance fee - To be confirmed upon receipt of the lease, and can range between £50-£250 and VAT may be charged, depending on the Landlord or Management Company dealing with the certificate.
These fees vary from property to property and can on occasion be significantly more than the ranges given above. We can give you an accurate figure once we have sight of your specific documents.
You should also be aware that ground rent and service charge are likely to apply throughout your ownership of the property. We will confirm the ground rent and the anticipated service charge as soon as this we receive this information.
Assumptions when we provide a quote
When our clients receive a quote from us it will clearly state what assumptions have been made in the quote, these commonly include the following:
- this is a standard transaction and that no unforeseen matters arise including for example (but not limited to) a defect in title which requires remedying prior to completion or the preparation of additional documents connected to the main transaction
- this is the transfer of an existing lease and is not the grant of a new lease
- the transaction is concluded in a timely manner and no unexpected complications arise
- all parties to the transaction are co-operative and there is no unreasonable delay from third parties providing documentation
- no indemnity policies are required. Additional disbursements may apply if indemnity policies are required.
Issues can arise during a transaction which require additional work not originally contemplated at the start of the matter. For example, on the purchase of a property it may come to light that the title to the property is defective, this will either need resolving or insurance obtaining to cover that risk. A list of additional services that may be required can be found here, we will notify you of these requirements as soon as they arise.
At Berwins we take the time to understand your proposed move before we confirm the fee that will apply. Some of our clients are under great time pressure to complete their purchase, this requires more staff to be allocated to their matter and hence their fee may be higher, conversely, a purchase with little time pressure and a proactive and helpful solicitor acting for the other party will decrease our workload and hence our fee will be lower.
We are often asked “what can I do to make my purchase costs less and happen quicker”, the following tips may help:
- Instruct us early so we can investigate your property’s legal paperwork (sometimes called its Title) to address any issues as soon as possible
- Ask the estate agent to recommend the other party uses a firm of solicitor’s who share similar values to Berwins :- proactive, accessible, expert in property law.
- Use a proactive estate agent who knows the area local to your property
How long will my house purchase take?
How long it will take from your offer being accepted until you can move in to your house will depend on a number of factors. The average process takes between 6 – 8 weeks to reach exchange of contracts.
It can be quicker or slower, depending on the parties in the chain. For example, if you are a first time buyer, purchasing a new build property with a mortgage in principle, it could take 4 weeks to reach exchange but if the house if not build complete, you could be waiting a matter of months before moving in. However, if you are buying an existing freehold property with no mortgage or complications, completion could take place within a month. Whatever the situation we will always talk to you about the individual circumstances and how they may affect timescale. No two property transactions are the same!
Stages of the process
The precise stages involved in the sale or purchase of a residential property vary according to the circumstances. Here is the link to our handy Guide to the Conveyancing Process.
What if my purchase / sale does not complete?
If for any reason your transaction does not proceed to conclusion, we will charge you for the work done and expenses incurred on a fair and reasonable basis, based upon the stage reached.
This is intended as a guide only to the fees relating to conveyancing. We always urge clients to call us so we can discuss your situation in detail to fully understand your needs before we quote– we do not offer an online quote system for this reason.
Call us on 01423 542776 to receive your personal quote.