The cost of buying a house

First-time buyers

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 house, from mortgages and house 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 house.

The cost of moving house

When we surveyed 1,990 recent home-movers as part of the 2015 Which? national property survey, more than a quarter of buyers and sellers told us that moving house cost them more than they originally expected.

For obvious reasons, the more accurately you can budget for buying a house, the better. Here are the key costs 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 expert, unbiased 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 now 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.

It's worth also keeping in mind that 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.

The table below helps you estimate how much you may have to pay based on the value of the property you're buying. 

Estimated mortgage costs
Value of property
  Up to £99,000 £100,000 - £249,000 £250,000 - £350,000 £401,000 - £450,000 £501,000+
Valuation £200 £290 £350 £400 £575
Arrangement fee £250 £350 £800 £1,000 £1,500

Find out more: Mortgage fees explained – all the fees associated with taking out a mortgage. 

House 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.

There are two main kinds of survey: a 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. They can cost between £500 and £1,300. 

For conventional properties that are less than 40 years old, a homebuyer's report, the most popular type, may be adequate. Take a look at our full guide to house surveys to help you decide what would be best for you.

The table below will help you estimate your survey costs.

Estimated survey costs
Value of property
  Up to £99,000 £100,000 - £249,000 £250,000 - £349,000 £350,000 - £499,000 £500,000+
HomeBuyer's report £350 £500 £600 £700 £950
Building survey £500 £700 £800 £900 £1,300

You can also get a condition report, which is a basic report suited most to modern homes in good condition, and costs between £150 and £300.

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

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 either charge you a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the property. You can expect to pay between £400 and £850, depending on 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. The fee will 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 out what might negatively affect the home you're buying, such as flooding.

If you are buying a leasehold property, you will need to pay a fee for this too, typically around £140, no matter what the price of the property.

The table below will help you estimate how much you may have to shell out on legal fees. 

Estimated legal costs
Value of property
  Up to £99,000 £100,000 - £249,000 £250,000 - £350,000 £401,000 - £450,000 £501,000+
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
  • 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 will pay depends on the value of the property you are buying. The graphic below shows how the percentage goes up as the house price does. Visit our stamp duty calculator to find out exactly how much you will need to pay.

 Stamp duty rates new infographic

If you're buying a second home or buy-to-let property, you have to pay 3% extra. Check out the Which? Mortgage Advisers 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 own. If you can do it yourself, either in your own vehicle or by hiring a van, it'll be cheaper, but it can be time-consuming. If you own a lot of things or are moving a long distance, you're probably better off paying a removals firm.

The table below estimates the cost of hiring a van to move yourself (which we don't recommend you do for a house with more than two bedrooms), using a removals company for different sizes of house and getting a removals company to move for you. 

See our full guide to moving house for more on how to hire a removals company and how to make moving 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

Your mortgage lender will require you to have buildings insurance that covers your new home. It’s a good idea to get home contents insurance as well to protect your belongings. 

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

You can also watch our video from first-time buyers about the unexpected costs that arose when purchasing their home in our guide to home ownership and the bills you need to pay.

  • Last updated: August 2016
  • Updated by: Stephen Maunder