The cost of buying a home explained

The cost of buying a home explained

By Nic Hopkirk

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Solicitor’s fees, mortgage fees, stamp duty and other costs can add up when buying a home. We take a look at all the fees involved in a house or flat purchase.

Buying a home is not as simple as paying the asking price. There are always extra costs.

It’s sensible to keep around 15% of the value of your new house aside for additional buying costs.

From the legal legwork, to mortgage fees, removals and stamp duty, we take a look at the fees involved with moving.

Here's a snapshot of the typical costs incurred when buying a home:

Type of cost Estimated cost
Conveyancer/ solicitor’s fees£2,000
Mortgage arrangement fees £1,000 to £2,000+
Mortgage booking fee £100 to £200
Valuation fee £150 to £800
Property survey£400 to £1,500
Removals£150 to £2,000+
Stamp duty0% to 12% of home value

1. Solicitor’s fees

Allow £2,000

Solicitor’s fees are one of the biggest extra costs when buying a home. But they’re absolutely worth the money.

Most people hire a solicitor to handle the legal aspects of buying a home, otherwise known as conveyancing.

Fees can vary, but allow up to £2,000. And make sure you get a quote upfront before any work begins.

Some solicitors charge by the hour, while others will do the job for a set amount. They may even calculate their fee as a percentage of the property you’re buying.

So, let’s take a look at what your fees are buying you:

Conveyancing

Conveyancing usually includes:

  • The drawing up of contracts between you and the seller
  • Organising your stamp duty payment 
  • The payment transfer for your new property

Find out more about what a property lawyer does to help you buy a home.

Searches

Your solicitor will also commission your local authority searches. 

This includes checking for things like flooding risk, if the property’s near a contaminated area or if there are any plans for new road developments 

Search costs are usually included in the solicitor's fee. But if not, they should be around £200 to £300.

Find out more about searches and what you can expect to find out from them.

Land Registry documents

As part of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will check the details of the previous owner, confirm the property boundaries and if the home sits on any public rights of way.

They will also handle the deeds to your home. This means registering them in your name.

2. Mortgage fees

Mortgage booking fees

Allow £100 to £200

Some banks or building societies charge you a “booking” fee for your mortgage.

This is a fee you pay as soon as you agree to take out your mortgage loan. It essentially means you’ve reserved your mortgage deal while your home purchase goes through. 

A mortgage booking fee is also known as an application or reservation fee. It is non-refundable if your property purchase falls through.

Mortgage arrangement fee

Allow £1,000 - £2,000

When a bank or building society agrees to give you a mortgage, they are likely to charge you a fee to set it up.

The cost of mortgage arrangement fees vary depending on the type of mortgage, the value of it and the rate of interest you agree to pay.

You could be charged up to £2,000 to arrange your mortgage, although the average is about £1,000.

If you don’t have a spare couple of grand around, an arrangement fee can be added on to what you’re borrowing. But remember, you will then have to pay interest on it. 

Often deals with the lowest interest rates have the highest fees attached. 

The low rates are designed to catch your eye, but you can work out the true value of the loan by comparing the fee, interest rate and length of the deal. 

Valuation fees

Allow £150 - £800

When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will need to value the home you want to buy to make sure it’s worth what you want to pay for it.

Not all lenders charge for a valuation as they’re sometimes included in your mortgage deal.

If you do need to pay, the cost will vary depending on the value of what you’re buying. On a £300,000 home for example, a typical cost will be around £200.

Sometimes, you may need a valuation conducted by a RICS surveyor, for Help to Buy properties for example. That might cost between £150 to £800.

In Scotland, mortgage valuations work differently as they’re included upfront in a home report.

3. Survey costs

Allow £400 - £1,500

Before you buy any home, it’s always worth getting a survey done. 

A survey could end up saving you thousands in the long run. Or stop you making a big mistake if it uncovers a lot of problems. 

There are three main types of survey to choose from when buying a home. And depending on which one you go for, costs can range from £400 to £1500.

Level 1 survey: A Condition Report (£400 - £950)

A Condition Report is a basic survey that gives an overview of the property’s overall condition. It reports any big issues but doesn’t go into detail. 

Level 2 survey: A HomeBuyer Report (£400 - £1,000)

A HomeBuyer Report is suitable for the majority of modern, conventional properties that are in a reasonable condition and less than 50 years old. 

Level 3 survey: A Building Survey (£600 - £1,500)

A Building Survey is the most comprehensive survey available and provides an in-depth inspection.

Particularly useful for older homes, they're more expensive but could well be worth the cost.

Find out more about surveys and the options available in this guide.

4. Stamp duty costs 

Allow 0-12% of the property price

Stamp duty is a tax charged by HMRC when you buy a house, flat or land in England and Northern Ireland. 

The amount of tax you’ll pay depends on the price of the property. It’s worked out as a percentage - and that percentage increases as the price of the property goes up.

Any property or land that’s under £125,000 is exempt.

For first-time buyers the first £300,000 of the property they're buying is exempt. But, if the home is worth more than £500,000, then first-time buyers have to pay the normal rates.

Stamp duty rates apply to the amount of the property price that falls within each tax band, as shown below.

Property priceStamp duty rate
£0 - £125,0000%
£125,001 - £250,0002%
£250,001 - £925,0005%
£925,001 - £1,500,00010%
£1,500,001 and over12%

Still got questions? Find out more about stamp duty and how it’s calculated in our guide.

Scotland has a land and buildings transaction tax rather than stamp duty and the rules are slightly different. Find out more about the Scottish housing system and land tax here.

In Wales, stamp duty has been replaced by Land Transaction Tax. It’s payable on property that costs more than £180,000.  Find out more about the Welsh property tax here.

A child opening wardrobe doors in a green room

5. Removal costs

Allow £150 to £2,000+

Moving your stuff yourself might save you money, but it can be really stressful. 

You can hire a van from £10 an hour but it’s going to take a few trips to empty out a flat or house. 

If you are doing it yourself, allow at least a full day of van hire to transport your stuff. And factor in the cost of boxes and packing tape.

If you pack up your things yourself and ask a removals company to shift it all, the average cost is £1200 for a three-bedroom house.

And if you want to go for the whole shebang, removals firms conduct a luxe package where they will pack and unpack for you. But be prepared to part with a few thousand for this one.

If you go down the route of using a removal company, try and declutter before you get an estimate from them. It could save you quite a bit.

6. Don’t forget the deposit

Allow 5-10% of the property purchase price

Okay, so this isn’t strictly a moving cost. It’s part of the actual cost of your new home.

But this is just a reminder since you're doing these sums that the smallest deposit needed to buy a new place is 5% of the home’s total cost.

So, if you’re looking for a two-bedroom flat that’s £250K, you’ll need £12,500 saved up in your bank for a deposit.

Most lenders prefer a 10% deposit if you can manage it. It opens up more mortgage choices and potentially lower interest repayment rates for you.

The government also offers schemes for first-time buyers that mean you don’t need such a big deposit, like  Shared Ownership and Help to Buy.