Diary of a high street conveyancer: 14th April 2024

Something has been bothering me this week; you know that niggling thing in the back of your mind that you can’t quite put your finger on… Well, I think I know what it is so let me try and share my thoughts with you

It seems to me that firms charge more for acting in a purchase than a sale. That seems to have been the case for as long as I can remember. I suppose the reasoning behind this is that it is easier to act in a sale than a purchase. Think back to a few years ago and it was merely the case that we would prepare the contract documents, send the documents to the buyer’s solicitor and wait for a few enquiries and then arrange for the signing of documents and the repayment of a mortgage (I know that is it simply but you know my gist).

Now it is so much harder and whereas I used to love acting in sales as although you weren’t in control of it in the same way that you could be on a purchase, it was somewhat easier than acting in a purchase. Is that still the case?

It is almost now as if we wait for those pages and pages of enquiries and then spend ages trying to provide adequate replies to the buyer’s solicitor; and sometimes, it is not that the answers are wrong but that the buyer’s solicitor just does not like the answers and we end up going round and round in circles for ages until the boxes are ticked correctly.

Is it still the case that we should charge less for a sale? I think that the costs should at least be the same for a sale as a purchase. Or how about we start charging for answering enquiries? A well prepared contract package where the seller’s solicitor has checked the forms and made sure that the Property Information form does state that the property is being sold with vacant possession and that the title has been updated following a change of name should be easy to provide! And why should the buyer’s solicitor point out to the seller’s solicitor that the Property Information form states that the property is not being sold with vacant possession (it has clearly not been checked before being sent!)

How about £1 per enquiry – and that charge should be added to the contract and paid by the buyers. And that way, we would know if the buyer has told his solicitor to raise those enquiries rather than standard enquiries being raised when we know that the buyer does not really care about those matters being asked.

What do we think? I know it would never be possible but it would be a way of focussing the buyer’s solicitor and obviating the need for unnecessary enquiries. And it would also mean that the seller’s solicitor would check the documents thoroughly before sending them…


This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.

One Response

  1. We pretty much charge the same for a sale and a purchase perhaps bar £50 or so. I think that is a fair reflection of the effort we have to go into these days. Sadly a lot of time titles are wrong or out of date and need to be updated. It does mean we are fairly compensated for our time without having endless lists of additional fees. Those that charge little for the sale I have no doubt will end up raising the fees at some point or adding on additional extras.

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