Conveyancing charges are required transaction fees the buyer has to pay when purchasing real estate. Every jurisdiction has a different set of requirements for completing a sale of property. The terminology and specific process might differ, but the general concepts are basically the same in legal systems based on English common law. These jurisdictions typically attach fees for transfer taxes, official copies of the property title and map, public recordation of the deed, and local property searches.
The legal definition of a conveyance is a transfer of property from one party to another. It is a term that is recognizable in any jurisdiction, but it is only in common usage in the U.K. The same conveyancing charges can be found in other jurisdictions under different names.
In the U.K., conveyancing solicitors are hired to assist in the buying and selling of real estate. The solicitor prepares an estimate of all of the charges that need to be paid to complete the transaction. This list of charges will be a combination of required and optional fees. The required fees are those charged by a third party, such as a government entity, and are the same no matter which conveyancing solicitor was hired to assist the transaction. Optional charges are those fees charged by the solicitor for services he plans to provide that are needed but not mandatory, such as the fee to retain the services of the solicitor.
Four categories of charges will appear as part of an ordinary conveyance in the U.K. Stamp duty land tax, the equivalent of a transfer tax in the U.S., is a tax paid on the value of the property to the relevant jurisdiction to transfer title from one party to another. An HM Land Registry fee, the equivalent of a recordation fee in the U.S., is paid to publicly record the deed in the land registry of England and Wales. Another fee is paid to the land register for official copy entries and the filed plan, also known as an official copy of the title and a map of the property that sets out its boundaries.
The last category of conveyancing charges comprises the fees paid to conduct needed property searches. These fees will change depending upon where the property is located and which searches are necessary. The charges typically include a local authority search, including any planning decisions, pending applications that would affect the property, and a water and drainage search.