Our costs for a leasehold flat purchase
This page gives you information about our fees for dealing with a leasehold flat purchase, and the expenses you will incur in connection with our work. Not all properties are the same, and there may be more fees or expenses involved, for example, in buying an older flat than a brand new apartment.
If you call us and give us a few details of the property you want to buy, and your mortgage arrangements, we can give you a personalised quotation which will detail our fees and the expenses likely to be payable in your particular transaction.
For your free, “no obligation” quotation, please call one of our experienced conveyancing team on 01223 578070 (Cambridge) or 01223 518317(Histon).
Our conveyancing team
Home purchases are dealt with by Alison Blackman, Tim Thomson, Laura Hales, Karen Clarke, Kathy Peak and Kelly Hall in our Cambridge office where Alison supervises the team, and by David Parker, Sharon Harding and Claire Burns in our Histon office, where David is the supervisor.
You can find details of their qualifications and experience by following the link to Our People here
What fees and expenses will I incur on a flat purchase?
The total costs to you of your purchase will be made up of:
- our fees for your purchase and, if you are taking a mortgage, dealing with your lender
- expenses we incur, of which there are more details below
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) which is a tax on property transactions and
- Land Registry fees for registering you as the owner of your new home.
Our fees and most expenses are subject to VAT, currently 20%. In the information below, figures in brackets include VAT.
We will look at each of these elements in turn.
Our fees include all the work normally involved in a flat purchase and (where applicable) your mortgage. Our fees will reflect the value of the property, where it is and how quickly the transaction needs to go through.
For a typical flat purchase up to a price of £1m, our fees range from £950 (£1,140) to £1,950 (£2,340) plus £25 (£30) for handling the transfer of the purchase money on your completion date.
For properties above £1m, our fees range from £2,000 (£2,400) up to £5,000 (£6,000).
If you are taking a mortgage, we will normally charge an additional £125 (£150) for reporting to your lender during the transaction, and arranging completion of your mortgage advance.
In most cases, a report of the property purchase will need to be made to H M Revenue and Customs, even if no SDLT is payable. We will charge you £50 (£60) for completing and sending this report.
In the typical flat purchase transaction, we will incur expenses for:
- obtaining a report on information about the property held by the local council (a “local search”)
- obtaining information from the relevant water and drainage supplier
- obtaining a desktop report designed to identify any obvious contamination risks affecting the development
- a check if the property is in an area where there is a risk of chancel repair liability
- a check at the Land Registry shortly before completion that the registered property details have not changed, and
- bank charges we pay for money transfers.
The expenses we incur will depend on the location of your new home. Some local councils charge more than others for a local search, and the location of the property may mean that additional investigations need to be made, for example, whether a road is maintained by the council.
In addition, there will be charges payable to the landlord of the development and/or to the management company responsible for its maintenance in connection with your purchase, and these charges are normally subject to VAT. The amount of the charges will vary from one apartment development to another, but are likely to be:
- for a deed of covenant by which you promise to comply with the terms of the lease, £240-£360
- for giving notice to the landlord that you have taken over the lease of the flat, £72-£144
- for giving notice separately to the management company that you have taken over the lease of the flat, £72-£144, and
- for a certificate from the landlord or management company allowing the transfer of the lease to you to be registered at the Land Registry, £120
On a typical flat purchase, therefore, the total expenses you incur will be in the range £860 to £1,400 including VAT.
Flats are typically held on long leases, so you will have a landlord which owns the building and normally a management company which maintains the building and its grounds. You will pay a rent to the landlord and service charges to the management company as long as you own the flat. We will obtain details of the current rent and service charges and report them to you as part of our work.
The Government’s SDLT is charged on a scale related to the purchase price of your property. However, SDLT is a complicated tax – with exemptions or lower rates for first-time buyers, and higher rates for buyers of second homes.
If you call us, we can normally tell you how much SDLT you must expect to pay with your free, “no obligation” quotation. Sometimes specialist advice may be needed to ensure that you pay the correct amount of SDLT.
Land Registry fees
The Land Registry’s registration fees are also charged on a scale related to the property value, and range from £40 to £910. There is no VAT on Land Registry fees.
Is everything included in your fees?
Our fees include all the legal work normally involved in a flat purchase. Sometimes, when we receive the documents relating to the property from the seller’s solicitors, or read the results of our enquiries, or have full instructions from your lender, we may find that additional work is required.
Examples would be:
- if the terms of the lease need to be varied; or
- if the length of time remaining on the lease is getting short, and the lease needs to be extended; or
- alterations have been carried out by a previous owner without the landlord’s permission; or
- if the landlord or management company are unable to provide all the information concerning the building which they should provide; or
- if your lender has additional requirements, such as a guarantee from a third party for your mortgage loan.
If a need for any additional work arises we will always tell you, and inform you what additional fees or expenses are likely to be incurred.
How long will my purchase take?
This all depends on whether a “chain” of transactions is involved, and the length of the chain. If you are a first time buyer with your mortgage arranged, and your seller has already bought their next home, it could be very quick. But if you are in a longer chain, and a party somewhere in the chain delays or a problem arises that takes time to resolve, or pulls out before contracts are exchanged, every transaction in the chain will be slowed down.
In our experience, the average transaction will take 12-16 weeks from your offer being accepted to you moving into your new home.
What steps are involved in a flat purchase?
The precise stages involved in a flat purchase vary slightly from one transaction to another, but the stages in a typical transaction will be:
- we take your instructions and give you general advice
- we check that you are arranging the finances needed for your purchase
- we receive a draft contract and property information from the seller’s solicitor, with a copy of the lease or (in a new development) the draft lease
- we carry out searches against the property, and ask the seller’s solicitor any appropriate additional enquiries
- we report to you on the terms of the lease, the results of our examination of the title to the property, and the results of our searches and enquiries
- we report to you on the terms and conditions of your mortgage advance
- we arrange for you to sign the contract and (in a new development) the lease, and send us the deposit payable on exchange
- we agree a completion date (when you can move into your new home) and exchange contracts to commit everyone in the chain to that date
- we collect the mortgage advance from your lender and the balance of the purchase moneys from you, including money to cover any SDLT payable by you
- we send the balance of the purchase money to the seller’s solicitor, and notify you that the keys are available for you to collect
- we complete the land transaction report for HMRC, and forward your SDLT payment
- we register your ownership of the flat at the Land Registry then we send you confirmation that you are the registered owner of your new home