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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 this article
Video: the cost of buying a house Mortgage costs House survey costs Conveyancing fees
Stamp duty costs Removals costs Home and contents insurance Household bills

Video: the cost of buying a house

 

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

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. 

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Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up your mortgage repayments.

 

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 over £125,000, though after reforms announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget it no longer applies to everyone.

While this section offers an outline of how the system works, for full details on how much stamp duty you'll need to pay, check out our stamp duty rates page.

First-time buyers - properties priced £500,000 or less

New rules announced in November 2017 mean that first-time buyers no longer need to pay stamp duty on homes priced up to £300,000.

The new rates could save buyers up to £5,000, and work like this:

  • Homes priced up to to £300,000 - no stamp duty
  • Homes priced between £300,000-£500,000 - stamp duty not payable on the first £300,000
  • Homes priced over £500,000 - stamp duty paid at standard rates, as below.

The graphic below shows how the new bands work:

 

 

Home movers 

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 on second homes and investment properties

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.

Scotland and Wales

There are different stamp duty systems in Scotland and Wales. If you're buying property there, check out our guides:

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.  

Correct as of date of publication.

 
 

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