Most people know they need to save for a deposit to get a mortgage for their first home. But prospective property owners might not realise there are a raft of other fees, charges and taxes they also need to pay –running into thousands of pounds.
Average moving costs, including stamp duty, estate agent, surveyor fees and removals, came to £11,894 by the end of 2014, according to research by Post Office Money and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Prices vary around the country from £20,000 to £30,000 in London but if you are in the north then your costs may only be between £5,000 and £10,000.
The golden rule is to save as large a deposit as possible. The more money you can put down, the better interest rate you will get. This could save you tens of thousands of pounds over the life of a mortgage.
Mortgages often come with arrangement fees and other charges. If you don’t have the money to pay these up front, they can be added to the mortgage loan but this means paying interest over the life of your mortgage, increasing its cost.
It is worth speaking to a mortgage advisor who will find out how much you can afford to pay for a property based on your personal circumstances and deposit. They can help find the best deal for you.
An independent broker may charge a fee. But there are brokers who get their cash only from the commission a lender pays them, so are fee-free to use. However they may be tied to particular lenders, whereas independent financial advisors can search the whole market place to find the most suitable mortgage for you.
Where you pay a fee, it can be anything from a fixed fee of several hundred pounds to a percentage of the loan amount, which can be expensive, so you need to be clear about the fees. You can use Local Surveyors Direct to find a broker
After buyers have an offer accepted, lenders charge prospective purchasers to carry out a valuation. This is done on the lender’s behalf to check how much the property is worth. The cost of a valuation survey varies according to the lender and purchase price, but budget for around £100-£300.
In addition to getting a house valuation, it is worth considering if you need to commission a survey. If the property is fairly modern and in good condition, you may decide it isn’t necessary. But if the property is older getting an expert view is recommended and could save you money in repairs in future.
Surveys are generally carried out by chartered surveyors who are members of the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) but there are other experts of varying degrees who also carry out surveys.
There are several different types of surveys. The most popular are the Homebuyer Report and the Building Survey.
A Homebuyer Report is generally a lower cost survey – between £200 and £400 – for straightforward properties. To obtain price comparisons for homebuyer reports directly from local surveyors see: the Homebuyer page
A full Building Survey is more comprehensive and recommended for older buildings and those that have been altered. The surveyor will spend more time inspecting the property and produce a more detailed report. The cost will be typically between £300 and £600 for an average house but can be more for a larger property. To obtain price comparisons for a full building survey directly from local surveyors see: the Building Survey page
It should be noted that the surveyor will usually have a look inside the attic but the rest of his inspection will be confined to what is easily visible. A surveyor will not normally lift carpets, for example.
The above prices for surveys assume that you are ordering your survey directly from a surveyor. Please note that if you order your survey through an estate agent or through a solicitor the cost is likely to be higher.
Legal Costs (Conveyancing)
You will need to pay a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to deal with all the legal aspects involved in buying a home.
This includes conveyancing – dealing with the transfer of ownership, checking paperwork and whether environmental factors, planning permission or other issues could cause problems.
Solicitors/conveyancers either charge a flat fee or a percentage of the property price. The fee for the solicitors work is usually between £350 and £1000 but there other costs (disbursements) added to this. These are the costs of legal searches and other associated items.
Inclusive of disbursements the solicitor’s bill is likely to be between £400 and £1,500, depending on how complex the transaction is.
If you are selling and buying properties then the cost of conveyancing will be increased.
It should be noted you can opt to use a low cost, national conveyancer or a higher cost, local solicitor. National conveyancing firms are price competitive but they don’t usually have local offices. A local solicitor will generally provide a more personal service and you can see them in their office but they will cost more.
To get price comparisons directly from a wide range of solicitors and conveyancers see: the Conveyancing page
Stamp Duty costs.
Stamp duty is a tax on land and property sales. It is paid by the person making the purchase. If you buy a house or flat worth more than £125,000 in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you have to pay it. In Scotland, stamp duty has been replaced by the new land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT).
Buyers pay Stamp Duty to their solicitor, who will then give it to HM Revenue and Customs on completion of the property purchase.
There's no charge on properties of £125,000 or less, but above that, you are charged. The rates were changed in December 2014, these are the new rates for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (in August 2015):
Up to £125,000
£125,000.01 to £250,000
£250,000.01 to £925,000
£925,000.01 to £1,500,000
Please note that these rates are now stepped. If the value of the property is £500,000 then the stamp duty will be allocated in each band and will then add up as follows:
Land Registry Fee
The Land Registry is a government department that keeps a record of all registered properties in England and Wales. It charges a fee for registering a property with a new owner.
This fee varies depending on how much the property is worth but you can expect to pay between £50 and £450.
This fee is also paid to your solicitor to pay on your behalf on completion of the property purchase.
Estate Agents Fees
There are no Estate Agents fees to pay if you are only buying a property but if you are selling then there will be costs.
Low cost online estate agents operating nationally on the internet are able to offer very low fees to sell your property (typically £400 to £800). They will advertise your property all over the internet.
Traditional estate agents with a local High Street office are generally more expensive (typically £2,000 to £10,000) but they may possibly have a greater chance of selling your house.
It is very difficult to know whether to use a low cost online estate agent or a more expensive traditional agent. Your best course of action is to talk to a range of estate agents and then go for what you think best.
A choice of estate agents and initial estimates can be found as follows:
In addition estate agents will also require you to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These generally cost between £40 and £80 each.
Price estimate comparisons for EPCs can be found directly from local suppliers as follow:
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
In addition estate agents will also require you to provide a Floor Plan. Price estimate comparisons for floor plans directly from suppliers in your local area can be found:
Moving costs will vary depending on how many belongings you have and distance to your new home. If you can move everything yourself by hiring a van, you will save money. However if you have a lot of furniture, it is probably better to pay a removals firm. Removals contractors can also provide a packing service which can save you time. However costs can add up to £1,000-plus for a larger house move. Again getting price comparisons are the best way to make sure that you get a good deal. See the Removals page
Other Costs after moving
It is a good idea to budget for repairs, alterations and decorating your new home. If it is a brand new property, it may need various items such as light fittings, towel rails and toilet roll holders.
If it is an older property, then it may need more major repairs. Some of the costly items could include:
1. You experience a heavy downpour, the roof leaks and needs repair.
2. The electric emersion heater stops working and needs replacing.
3. The oil or gas boiler breaks down and needs replacing.
4. The toilet gets blocked.
5. Some of the plumbing springs a leak.
6. The washing machine packs up or the fridge stops working.
There are many things that could go wrong and it’s not worth worrying too much about what might or might not happen. However, it is prudent to make sure you have some savings in reserve to deal with possible emergencies.
Local Surveyors Direct