My lawyer has provided me with a quote for closing my new home and I don’t really understand how it is broken down and what I am paying for. I was told that it is divided between fees and disbursements. Could you explain the way this works?

This is perhaps one of the most frequent questions I am asked. The legal costs of purchasing (or for that matter selling) a home are divided into the lawyer’s fee, which is the actual costs for the services that are performed and disbursements, which are the hard costs for performing the services.

For disbursements, these expenses will be almost exactly the same for every lawyer. They include costs such as couriers, faxes, postage, long distance, title search costs, registration costs of your deed and mortgage, title insurance policy, any agent costs and searching executions. Each of these are specific expenses that you must incur in order to have the transaction processed and are paid on your behalf by your lawyer.


The legal fees are another question all together. They can vary by several hundred dollars based upon the firm you retain but also the level of service they provide.

You should be wary of extremely inexpensive fees (the old adage, you get what you pay for, applies here) and likewise, overly expensive fees. Remember that you are contracting for the services of a legal professional and not a commodity. Hopefully, this person or firm will be the go-to-person for all your legal needs in the future. It’s about relationship building.

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