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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 cost of moving house

The 2015 Which? national property survey revealed that moving costs more than expected for more than a quarter of home movers.

For obvious reasons, the more accurately you can budget for buying a house, the better. Here are the key fees to factor in:

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 pay interest on them 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.

When you've put in an offer and had it accepted, your lender will want to carry out a valuation to ensure the property is worth roughly what you're planning to pay for it. They will generally 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 what a mortgage lender will lend you.

This table shows how much you may have to pay 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.

Home-survey costs

The valuation survey conducted by your lender is purely for them to get a rough idea of what your new home is worth – it doesn't cover anything structural and won't highlight problems with the property. This is why 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 covers 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 that are less than 50 years old, a HomeBuyer's Report, the most popular type of survey, will usually be adequate. 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.

Take a look at our full guide to home surveys to help you decide what would be best for you, 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

 

  • If you're buying a new-build property, you should have a snagging survey (usually £300-£600) done.

Conveyancing fees

You'll need to hire a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer to deal with the legal aspects of buying a property, known as conveyancing. They'll 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 and location of property, 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, which you will have to do. 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, which are required to find anything that might negatively affect the home you're buying (eg flooding).

If you're buying a leasehold property, you'll need to pay a fee for this, too, typically around £140, no matter what 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
Value of property £100,000 £250,000 £350,000 £450,000 £800,000
Conveyancing fees £400 £550 £600 £650 £850
Searches £200 £200 £200 £200 £200
Money transfer £35 £35 £35 £35 £35
Land Registry fee £90 £140 £140 £140 £140
Sub-total £865 £1,065 £1,115 £1,165 £1,365
Leasehold £140 £140 £140 £140 £140
Figures gathered by designsonproperty.co.uk. Correct as of March 2015.

 

  • 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 you're buying a house or flat 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 does. 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 will 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 a lot depending on how many belongings you have. 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 moving 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. 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 once you've moved into your 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: December 2016
  • Updated by: Joe Elvin