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The great lawyers’ fee debate

Published: 14th August 2018

Author: Scott Chamberlain, RMY Legal

Published in: Property Speaking, No 28, Spring 2018

The great lawyers’ fee debate

Lawyers’ fees are often a difficult subject to discuss. They shouldn’t be.

When setting a fee we need to consider many things but, ultimately, the fee we charge to you must be fair and reasonable – for us both. We need to be paid for the expertise we give to provide you with a trouble-free property transaction and you need to know what we do to ensure this happens for you.

Remember to ask us for a GST-inclusive cost estimate. Our cost estimate will usually have three components:

  1. Our fee
  2. The disbursement cost, and
  3. Office services charge.

 

Fee and value

For you to have a smooth and trouble-free property purchase, we undertake a great deal of behind-the-scenes work for you. There’s certainly more to it than a 15-minute meeting where we get your instructions and later on you sign various papers.

We search the title and advise you of the registration of any legal documents registered against the title which may affect the property.

We will review the agreement for sale and purchase for you as well as drafting any specific conditions you want included in the agreement. The wording of these conditions is important and we’ll advise you on the most appropriate way to protect yourself through the conditional stage. We will help ensure the conditions are fulfilled by the required date and handle any negotiations or cancellations resulting from those conditions.

Once the contract is unconditional, we will prepare all of the documentation your lender needs to register your mortgage and for Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) to transfer the property to your name.

On settlement day, we will handle all of the funds required to purchase your property and will complete the transaction on your behalf.

 

Disbursements

A disbursement is a cost that we incur on your behalf. For example, when purchasing a property, a fee of $80 must be paid to LINZ to register the transfer document which puts the property into your name. We pay another $80 on your behalf when we register a mortgage against your new property in favour of your lender. These costs become disbursements on your invoice so we can be reimbursed for the fees we have paid for you.

 

Office service fee

In addition to disbursements, sometimes we charge an office services fee. This generally covers IT and software licensing costs, and so on.

At all times in this process, we must act in accordance with your instructions, advise you on the law and the process of the transaction, and keep you up-to-date with information relevant to your purchase. Once your purchase is settled, we send you a formal reporting letter. Unless our fee has been deducted at the time of settlement (which is the more common method), we will also include an invoice for our fees, disbursements and office services, if charged.

If you would like to know more about the cost estimate for your property transaction and the behind-the-scenes work we do, please be in touch with us.

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