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26 Sep 2020

Exclusive: is the cost of moving house on the rise?

Moving costs average nearly £7,000 as estate agent, legal and survey fees rise

The stamp duty holiday has cut more than £4,000 from the average cost of moving home - but other fees are on the rise.

New data obtained exclusively by Which? shows that while overall moving costs have dropped by 39%, estate agent, conveyancing, house survey and removals fees are increasing.

Here, we explain the average cost of moving home, the types of houses buyers are currently competing for and whether it's already too late to put your property on the market.

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Stamp duty cut takes £4,000 off moving bills

New figures from the comparison site Reallymoving show that the stamp duty cut has wiped more than £4,000 off the average cost of moving home.

Its findings, which are based on 239,000 quotes, shows that the average cost of moving has dropped from £10,911 to £6,699 in light of the changes.

The other main costs, however, are rising. Legal fees (15%), estate agent fees (14%), house survey (10%) and removals (3%) have all become more expensive as house prices have increased.

The table below shows the estimated costs of moving to an average-priced UK home.

Estate agent fees£3,936
Legal fees£1,682
House survey£450
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)£55
Total cost of moving£6,669

Source: Reallymoving

To ensure you get the best deal when moving home, check out our guides on estate agent fees, conveyancing, house surveys and removals to find out the key questions to ask and advice on negotiating on fees.

Buyers compete for bigger homes

The property market is flourishing, as buyers look to progress up the ladder and take advantage of stamp duty savings.

Data from Rightmove shows average asking prices for three and four-bedroom homes have hit a new record (£290,520).

The portal says sales agreed on 'top of the ladder' homes (four-bedroom detached and bigger) have increased by 104% year-on-year, while second-stepper properties (three and four-bedroom, not detached) have seen rises of 55%.

Tim Bannister, from Rightmove, says: 'Needing more space has always been the most popular reason for moving house, but now there's a new urgency for extra space to be able to work from home, which means that there are different sets of buyers competing for the same type of property.

'At the start of the year a fourth bedroom was very much a luxury for buyers trading up, but it's now emerging as a must-have for those who are able to take that step.'

Is the stamp duty cut worthwhile?

The temporary stamp duty cut is fueling the market, and big tax savings are on offer for people buying more expensive properties.

The table below shows how much you could save in stamp duty when progressing up the ladder in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Property priceEngland/N.IrelandScotlandWales

Buyers in England and Northern Ireland purchasing more expensive properties will reap the biggest rewards, but the recent uptick in demand could mean they end up paying more for the property itself, possibly negating some of the benefits of the stamp duty saving.

Figures from Rightmove show that the biggest properties have seen price increases of around 5% year-on-year, and with some commentators predicting values could drop in the next year, buyers should think carefully about whether they're over-bidding to secure a property during this period of high demand.

Type of homeAverage asking priceYear-on-year change
Top of the ladder£563,593+4.9%

Source: Rightmove

Buyers and sellers facing delays

The property industry is still dealing with after effects of stricter lockdown measures earlier this year, and this has resulted in delays for buyers and sellers.

We've recently seen some banks withdraw or limit their mortgage lending, due to not having the capacity to deal with soaring application numbers, and this means that the process of moving can be glacial.

Tim Bannister says: 'We're hearing of challenges at all steps of the buying and selling process, including lenders having to deal with a higher number of mortgage applications and solicitors over their capacity, and we estimate there are nearly 40% more sales currently going through than at this time last year.'

If you are thinking of moving in the next few months, it's important to get all of the key paperwork together now (such as identification documents and payslips), as being organised ahead of time could boost your chances of getting a mortgage over the line more quickly.

When should you list your home for sale?

These delays mean people thinking of selling their home before the stamp duty holiday ends should consider moving quickly.

You'll need to complete the sale - and the purchase of your next home - by 31 March to benefit from the holiday.

The estate agency body NAEA Propertymark says sellers should look to market their property today (26 September) to have the best chance of getting a sale over the line in time.

Rightmove, meanwhile, advises that buyers and sellers factor in an extra month to account for the current hold ups, and says that time is already running out for sales agreed now to be completed before Christmas.

If you are thinking of moving, we've got lots of great advice to help you on your way. Our comprehensive step-by-step guide to selling your home offers advice from setting asking prices and accepting offers to exchanging contracts.