What are disbursements for buying or selling a house
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What are disbursements for buying or selling a house?

15/02/2023
(Last Updated: 26/09/2023)
1,213
5 min read
Disbursements are payments made to third parties during the conveyancing process. They differ depending on whether you are buying or selling a house and there are additional disbursements when buying a leasehold.

You pay your solicitor for disbursements and they then pay the third party on your behalf. You don't always pay for the disbursement up front, which means you pay either before completion, or if it fails to complete, on your abortive invoice.

We explain below what are disbursements for buying or selling a house, when do you pay them during the conveyancing process and what are the costs for the disbursements.

Section 67 of the Solicitors Act 1974 states disbursements as follows: “A solicitor's bill of costs may include costs payable in discharge of a liability properly incurred by him on behalf of the party to be charged with the bill (including counsel's fees) notwithstanding that those costs have not been paid before the delivery of the bill to that party”.



What are disbursements when buying a house?

Disbursement
When do you pay?
Cost
Online ID Fee
This is a per person cost paid to verify your ID. All solicitors need to verify who their client is and there are many ways of doing this. Read more here - What ID does your solicitor need?
Normally on completion.
£8 to £50 per buyer and for anyone gifting money.
Local Authority Search
Local Authority Search is obtained from your local council. It contains information about planning applications and Building Control data on your property, rights of way, local controls, and restrictions. This is a mandatory search if you are getting a mortgage, as a mortgage lender won’t agree to lend without it, or (if applicable) without appropriate indemnity insurance. Read more here - What is a Local Authority Search?

After receipt of draft contracts - normally 2 weeks into the transaction
£60 to £300
Water and Drainage Search
Water and Drainage search is obtained from your local water board. It contains information about where the water comes into the property, where your waste goes and if you’re connected to a main line sewer. This is mandatory for some more lenders, although in practice all solicitors will obtain this search if you are buying with a mortgage. Read more here - What is a Water and Drainage Search?

After receipt of draft contracts - normally 2 weeks into the transaction
£40 to £100
Environmental Search
Environmental search is obtained from a search provider with information from various sources. It contains flood risk, ground stability, radon, contaminated land data and other environmental influencing factors. Read more here - What is an Environmental Search?

After receipt of draft contracts - normally 2 weeks into the transaction
£40 to £80
Chancel Check
Chancel search identifies potential risks that your property has a liability to pay for the upkeep of the local church (there was a case in 2003 which cost a homeowner almost a £100,000 ). Read more here - What is a Chancel Search?

After receipt of draft contracts - normally 2 weeks into the transaction
£20 to £39
Land Registry Fee
This is paid to the Land Registry, by your solicitor, to register your property in your name.

On completion
Based on your property's value. Check - Land Registry Fees
Land Registry Priority (OS1)
This disbursement is paid prior to exchange to protect the title from any changes being made.

On completion
£3
Land Registry Bankruptcy Search
This disbursement is paid prior to exchange, to ensure the buyers haven't had a bankruptcy application made against them.

On completion
£2 per buyer
Lawyer Check
This disbursement is paid to validate the bank account details for the seller's solicitor to avoid fraud. Read more here - What is Lawyer Checker?

On completion
£15
Stamp Duty Land Tax
This disbursement is the tax charged by the Government if you buy a property over a certain price in England. Find out how much you will pay here - SDLT Calculator

On completion
Normally a % of the purchase price, depending on the SDLT threshold

Download Completion Statement Calculator

Fed up of waiting for your solicitor to send your completion statement through? Then download our FREE Excel template that calculates what you need to pay or what your sale proceeds will be. Includes a calculator for sales and purchases.


Template Completion Statement for Sale and Purchase

What are disbursements when selling a house?

Disbursement
When do you pay?
Cost
Online ID Fee
This is a per person cost paid to verify your ID. All solicitors need to verify who their client is and there are many ways of doing this. Read more here - What ID does your solicitor need?
Normally on completion.
£8 to £50 per buyer and for anyone gifting money.
Estate Agents Fees
This is paid to your estate agent out of the proceeds of your sale.

On completion
Normally a % of the sale price or an agreed fixed fee.
Office Copy of The Register
This disbursement is paid on instruction to be provided with the contract pack to the buyer.

On Instruction
£3
Title Plan
This disbursement is paid on instruction to be provided with the contract pack to the buyer.

On Instruction
£3

This is an important article to read to understand why - How much does a solicitor charge to sell a house?

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.


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