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The cost of buying a house

Learn about the true cost of buying a home, from deposits and mortgage fees to survey costs and the price of using a removals company.

In this article
Home-buying costs at a glance Mortgage costs House survey costs Conveyancing fees
Stamp duty costs Removals costs Ongoing costs

When it comes to buying a house or flat, there are more costs to save for than you might imagine - and budgeting properly will help you avoid nasty surprises further down the line. 

Home-buying costs at a glance

The cost of moving home varies significantly depending on whether you're a first-time buyer or are selling a home at the same time.

The tables below gives a rough guide of the extra costs that can come with buying a property. Data is provided by the price comparison website Reallymoving and based on the cost of an average home in England as of October 2021. 

Buying your first home

First-time buyers Average cost
Stamp duty £0 (first-time buyers only pay if the property costs more than £300,000)
Estate agent fees £0 (not required as no property to sell)
Legal fees £1,260
House survey £450
Removals £372
Energy Performance Certificate £0 (not required as no property to sell)
Total £2,082

 

Moving home

Home movers Average cost
Stamp duty £5,000
Estate agent fees £3,965 (based on a fee of 1.42%)
Legal fees £1,650
House survey £507
Removals £600
Energy Performance Certificate £55
Total £11,777

Mortgage costs

The majority of mortgages come with up-front fees. These are sometimes called arrangement fees, booking fees or completion fees.

Fees commonly range from £999 to £1,999. Some deals are available fee-free, but these often carry higher interest rates. 

Whether you'll be better off paying a fee or choosing a fee-free deal with a higher rate will depend on your own financial circumstances. If you're unsure of the right option, it's worth taking advice from a whole-of-market mortgage broker.

If you choose a mortgage that carries a fee but you can't afford to pay it upfront, you can usually add it to your loan. This will end up costing you more, however, as you'll have to pay interest on it.

You can check the true cost of mortgage deals using our repayment calculator.

Valuation fees

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will carry out a valuation to check the home is worth roughly what you're planning to pay for it.

Valuations aren't exhaustive - some lenders will conduct a 'drive-by' valuation, or even do their research online rather than visit the property themselves.

Valuation fees were once very common, but the vast majority of mortgages now come fee-free.

 

House survey costs

Your lender's valuation only looks at how much the property is worth – it doesn't check for structural issues, and won't unearth any problems with the property.

To protect yourself from buying a house with defects, you should always have an independent property survey done, too.

The type of house survey you'll require depends on the age and condition of the property you're buying. Most people buying a property in a reasonable condition choose a Level 2 survey, but you may wish to pay for a Level 3 survey if you're buying a property that's older or in poor condition.

The table below gives a rough guide on how much you might pay for each type of survey. 

Level of report Property price
£100,000-£249,000 £250,000-£349,000 £350,000-£499,000 £500,000-£1m

Rics Home Survey - Level 1

£500 £600 £700 £950

Rics Home Survey - Level 2/RPSA Home Condition Survey

£500-600 £600-700 £700-800 £1,000

Rics Home Survey - Level 3/RPSA Building Survey

£700-750 £800-900 £900-£1,100 £1,500

 

 

Figures gathered from designsonproperty.co.uk in October 2018.

If you're buying a new-build property you should consider having a professional snagging survey done.

Conveyancing fees

You'll need to hire a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of buying a property. This process is called conveyancing.

There are various contributing factors to how much you'll pay, including whether you're selling a home at the same time and the value of the property you're buying.

Some of the key fees to look out for are as follows: 

Legal fees

Your solicitor 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.

Money transfer fees

This covers transferring cash between mortgage lenders, conveyancers, buyers and sellers.

Land Registry fees

The Land Registry is a government department that keeps records of all registered properties in England and Wales.

It charges a fee for registering a property with a new owner. This fee will also vary depending on the property price - you can find out the latest fees on the Land Registry's website.

Searches

Searches are carried out by your solicitor and are required to identify anything that might negatively affect the home you're buying (eg flooding issues).

Leasehold fees

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

Stamp duty costs

Stamp duty is a tiered tax on land and property transactions, but not everyone has to pay it.

This section offers an outline of how the system works. To find out exactly how much stamp duty you'll pay, you can use our stamp duty calculator.

First-time buyer stamp duty (England and Northern Ireland) 

First-time buyers purchasing properties costing up to £300,000 don't need to pay any stamp duty, and those buying a property priced between £300,000 and £500,000 get a discount.

This means you could save up to £5,000. It works like this:

  • Homes priced up to £300,000: no stamp duty.
  • Homes priced between £301,000 and £500,000: no stamp duty on the first £300,000; 5% on the amount over £300,000.
  • Homes priced over £500,000: you'll pay stamp duty at standard rates (see the 'home movers stamp duty' section below).

Home movers stamp duty (England and Northern Ireland) 

If this isn't the first property you've ever bought but it is going to be your main residence (e.g. you're selling your old house and moving to a new one), you'll pay standard stamp duty rates on any property that costs more than £125,000.

The amount of stamp duty you'll pay depends on the value of the property you're buying. Stamp duty is tiered like income tax, so you'll pay different rates on different portions of the property price.

Stamp duty in Scotland: LBTT

When buying a property in Scotland, you'll usually have to pay Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). Like stamp duty, it's a tiered system where you pay different rates of tax on different portions of the property price. 

First-time buyers don't have to pay any LBTT on the first £175,000 of the property price, while for home movers a 2% rate of LBTT kicks in from £145,001.

Stamp duty in Wales: LTT

If you buy a property in Wales that costs more than £180,000, you'll have to pay Land Transaction Tax (LTT). Like stamp duty, LTT is tiered, meaning you pay different rates on different portions of the property price.

First-time buyers don't get an exemption under the Welsh LTT system. 

Removals costs

Moving costs will vary depending on how much furniture and belongings you have, how far you're moving, and whether you opt for extras such as professional packing.

The table below estimates the cost of hiring a van - which you should only consider if you have a relatively small amount of stuff - or using a removals company for different sizes of house, as well as getting them to pack for you.

Service Number of bedrooms
One Two Three Four+
Hiring a van £65 £125 Not recommended Not recommended
Removals company £240 £410 £650 £950
Removals company plus insurance, professional packing and materials £680 £1,000 £1,500 £2,100

 

Prices for van hire based on quotes from Hertz. Removals company quotes sourced from AnyVan.com in May 2022 for a move to an equal-sized property within 10 miles.

Ongoing costs

Once you've moved into your new home, there are regular costs you'll have to cover, too.

We've explained these in our guide to the household bills you'll pay as a homeowner.

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