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Buying a home

The cost of buying a house

By Joe Elvin

Article 2 of 13

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The cost of buying a house

Learn about the true price of buying a property, from mortgage charges and survey costs to conveyancing fees and removals.

In the video below, property TV presenter Jonnie Irwin explains the costs you need to take into account when buying a home.

The costs of purchasing property

Having an accurate budget for buying a home can set you up for success. But some costs may come as a surprise to first-time buyers.

In this guide, we examine the costs involved in buying a home, including:

  • Mortgage costs
  • House survey costs
  • Conveyancing
  • Stamp duty
  • Removals
  • Home and contents insurance
  • Household bills
  •  

    Mortgage costs

    Many mortgages come with arrangement fees and other charges for setting up the loan. It's possible to find deals where the fees are waived, but you'll sometimes end up paying a higher interest rate as a result. 

    If you don't have the money to pay your mortgage fees upfront, you can usually add them onto your mortgage loan – but you will then pay interest on these costs as well. 

    • For unbiased, expert advice on the deal that will actually work out cheapest for you in the long run, you should speak to a whole-of-market mortgage broker such as Which? Mortgage Advisers. You can call our friendly team on 0808 252 7987 for a free consultation.

    Once your offer has been accepted by the owner, your lender will carry out a valuation to check the property is worth what you're planning to pay for it. The lender will usually arrange this for you, but in most cases you will be expected to cover the cost – typically between £200 and £600 (see the table below).

    If you're putting down a deposit of 25% or less, you might have to pay a higher lending charge (HLC). You can find out more in our guide to how much you can borrow from a mortgage lender.

    This table shows much your mortgage fees may be, based on the value of the property you're buying. 

     
    Average mortgage fees
    Value of property £100,000 £250,000 £350,000 £450,000 £800,000
    Valuation £273 £386 £478 £536 £822
    Arrangement feea £931 £956 £978 £998 £1,052
    Moneyfacts data gathered on 9 December 2016.  aAssumes a 75% mortgage.
     

    House survey costs

    The valuation survey carried out by your lender looks solely at the property's worth – it doesn't cover structural issues and won't highlight problems with the property. To protect yourself from buying a house with defects, you should always have your own survey done, too.

    There are two main kinds of survey: a RICS HomeBuyer's Report and a building survey (also known as a structural survey). 

    A HomeBuyer's Report examines the general condition of the property you're going to buy, and usually costs between between £350 and £1,000. A building survey provides a more in-depth analysis of the condition of the property, including the structure, and will typically cost between £500 and £1,300. 

    For conventional properties less than 50 years old, a HomeBuyer's Report will usually be adequate, making this the most popular type of survey. Alternatively, you could opt for the more basic RICS Condition Report, which is only suitable for modern homes in good condition, and costs between £150 and £300. 

    If you're buying a new build property, you will generally need to carry out a snagging survey, which is likely to cost between £300 and £600. 

    Take a look at our full guide to home surveys to decide the best type for your property, and check out costs in the table below.

    Estimated survey costs
    Value of property £100,000 £250,000 £350,000 £450,000 £800,000
    HomeBuyer's report £350 £500 £600 £700 £950
    Building survey £500 £700 £800 £900 £1,300
    Figures gathered from designsonproperty.co.uk. Correct as of March 2015
     

    Conveyancing fees

    You'll need to hire a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of buying a property, known as conveyancing. Your legal adviser will either charge you a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the property. You can expect to pay between £500 and £1,500 depending on the type of property, its location and how complex the transaction is.

    The Land Registry is a government department that keeps records of all registered properties in England and Wales. It charges a fee for registering property with a new owner. This fee will also vary depending on the property price, but you can expect to pay between £90 and £140.

    You'll also have to pay for money transfers between mortgage lenders, conveyancers, buyers and sellers, and for searches. These searches, carried out by your conveyancer, are required to identify anything that might negatively affect the home you're buying (eg flooding).

    If you're buying a leasehold property, you'll also need to pay a fee, which usually remains the same whatever the price of the property.

    The table below shows how much you may have to pay for legal fees. For more information on the charges and what they mean, check out our full guide to conveyancing fees.

     
    Estimated legal costs (including VAT)
    Value of property £100,000 £250,000 £350,000 £450,000 £800,000
    Conveyancing fees £625 £800 £910 £1,025 £1,250
    Mortgage lender's legal fee £170 £170 £170 £170 £170
    Searches £300 £300 £300 £300 £300
    Money transfer £45 £45 £45 £45 £45
    Land Registry fee £40 £135 £135 £135 £270
    Sub-total £1,180 £1,450 £1,560 £1,675 £2,035
    Leasehold £325 £325 £325 £325 £325
    Representative figures gathered from Which? Conveyancing, correct as of April 2017. Your conveyancer may also charge you a flat fee (around £95) to prepare your stamp duty tax return.

     

    • Which? has teamed up with a conveyancing partner to offer a no-move, no-fee service. Find out more about Which? Conveyancing.
     

    Stamp duty costs

    Stamp duty is a tax on land and property transactions that you'll have to pay if your house or flat is worth more than £125,000. 

    The amount of stamp duty you'll pay depends on the value of the property you're buying. The graphic below shows how the percentage goes up as the house price increases. Use our stamp duty calculator to work out exactly how much you'll pay.

     Stamp duty rates new infographic

    If you're buying a second home or buy-to-let property, you'll have to pay an extra 3% and you'll be charged stamp duty on any property costing more than £40,000. Check out our guide to buy-to-let stamp duty to find out more.

     

    Removals costs

    Moving costs will vary depending on how difficult your move is likely to be. If you can do it yourself, either in your own vehicle or by hiring a van, it'll be cheaper but more time consuming. If you own a lot of things or are travelling a long distance, you're probably better off paying to use a removals firm.

    The table below estimates the cost of hiring a van or using a removals company for different sizes of house, as well as getting a removals company to pack for you. 

    See our full guide to moving home for more on how to hire a removals company and how to make the process as stress-free as possible.

    Estimated moving costs
      One bedroom Two bedrooms Three bedrooms Four bedrooms Five bedrooms
    Hiring a van £100 £200 Not recommended Not recommended Not recommended
    Removals company £400 £500 £800 £1,000 £1,200+
    Add packing by a removals company £150 £200 £250 £350 £400
     

    Home and contents insurance

    You'll need to have buildings insurance for your new home from the moment you exchange contracts. It’s a good idea to get home contents insurance once you've moved in, too, to protect your belongings. 

    See all our reviews on home insurance providers and read our advice to find the best.   

     

    Household bills

    As well as your monthly mortgage repayments, you'll need to budget for utility bills and council tax payable on your new home – plus, you'll have to stump up for any essential repairs and maintenance. If you live in a flat, you'll have to pay a service charge and ground rent, too.  

    Our guide to home ownership and the bills you need to pay estimates the likely cost of all these charges and includes video interviews in which first-time buyers discuss the unexpected costs that arose when they bought their homes.  

    • Last updated: October 2017
    • Updated by: Stephen Maunder
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