There are many types of costs involved in buying a new home and moving in. Not all might apply to you. But knowing what you might have to pay for, whether you're a first-time buyer or an an existing homeowner, can help you plan better and avoid surprises.
The purchase price of the property you buy is a significant factor in determining other costs, including not just ones such as mortgage payments, some of the other larger ones such as stamp duty so be aware that any figures we give are just estimates for an average home.
Saving strategies in advance of buying, such as setting aside a portion of your income each month or cutting back on non-essential spending, can help you manage the one-off costs more effectively.
Upfront costs before completion
Your equity or your deposit
Obvious as it might be, the starting place is how much money you'll put toward the cost of the property and how much you'll borrow. You might call this the equity you put in, or your deposit if you'll use a mortgage to fund the remainder.
Generally, the more you can put in as a deposit, the more likely you are to be accepted for a mortgage(subject to a mortgage affordability assessment). Larger deposits often lead to better mortgage deals, with lower interest rates.
On average, to obtain a mortgage, your deposit needs to be 5% to 20% of the purchase price. That means on a £300,000 house, you'll need at least £15,000 just for the deposit.
For first time buyers, shared ownership options may be available, where you buy a share of a property and pay rent on the remaining share. This can help reduce the deposit amount required and make ownership more accessible.
After you've made an offer and have a mortgage in place, but before you exchange contracts, have a property survey carried out.
They are essential to identify any potential issues with your new home - reasons not to proceed or costs that you have to factor in as an owner. For example, they will highlight damp issues, structural issues, and plumbing and electrical issues.
To make the most of the cost, you might be able to use the survey findings to negotiate on the sale - having the current owners fix problems before you buy, or gaining a discount on the offer price so that you can afford to do the work.
A basic home condition survey costs from £200, while a thorough full structural survey might cost £600 or more. In theory, you should be able to ask your lender how much they would charge for an upgrade to their valuation survey.
Despite the cost, a survey might just save you thousands of pounds later in repairs. Even if you are unlucky enough to pay for surveys on two or three properties that you don't buy, the consequences of buying one that has structural problems can be more expensive.
Stamp Duty and other regional taxes
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax paid on property purchases in England and Northern Ireland. It is calculated based on the property price, with standard rates applied depending on the value of the home.
There is no Stamp Duty to pay on main residences costing less than £250,000. If you are an eligible first-time buyer, there is a higher threshold of £425,000 before you pay tax, and there is further relief on properties priced below £625,000.
If you’re buying a second home, you will pay an extra 3% on properties costing more than £40,000 at the relevant rate at that time.
For more information on Stamp Duty, including current rates and exemptions, visit the SDLT section on Gov.UK.
In Wales, Land Transaction Tax replaced SDLT in Wales from 1 April 2018. This is another tiered tax. There is nothing to pay if the price is under £225,000.
There’s no first-time buyers' relief in Wales.
There is a calculator at Gov.Wales.
In Scotland, Stamp Duty has been replaced by Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. Rates are also tiered. You pay 0% on properties bought for less than £145,000.
First-time buyers benefit from a relief that raises the value over which LBTT is paid to £175,000.
See the page at Revenue.Scot.
These taxes applies to transactions of both freehold and leasehold properties, and whether you’re buying outright or financing the purchase with a mortgage.
Estate agent fees
The cost of the estate agent's services is only paid by the seller, not the buyer, who negotiates it before putting the property on the market.
It is usually 1% to 3% of the sale price depending on the value of the property and the complexity of marketing it. Online estate agents often charge a fixed sum. VAT is also payable on fees.
If you pay a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to carry out the conveyancing - the legal process of transferring property ownership - then they are likely to charge conveyancing fees between £800 and £2,000 plus VAT depending on where the property is located and the complexity of ownership.
Usually solicitor fees are in the same ballpark as licensed conveyancer fees. The difference between the two types of professionals is that licensed conveyancers specialise in conveyancing.
There are various pricing structures for all the legal work involved, such as fixed fee, flat fee, and hourly rate. Fixed is usually preferable because then you won't have any surprises when the bill arrives after having paid the many other costs of buying and moving.
Online conveyancers may offer lower fees.
There may be additional fees to pay. These are called disbursements. When you receive a quote, check what is included and what the extra costs will be. A low headline price may hide disbursements.
One type of disbursement are the local searches. These are checks for potential issues that might affect the value of the property. Expect to pay between £150 and £400 for these, depending on how many are done.
Land Registry fee
As the name suggests, the Land Registry holds records of who owns properties. When you buy a property, it is a legal requirement to update the register. The Land Registry charges a fee to transfer a register entry into your name.
Land Registry fees depend on the price of the property. It is up to £200 for properties sold for less than £200,000 and up to £300 for transactions up to £500,000.
The fee is usually paid by your conveyancer and billed as a disbursement.
It is significantly cheaper to pay online than by post, so ask your conveyancer to do so.
Mortgage fees and lender's costs
Mortgage fees include arrangement fees and valuation fees. Less common now is a booking fee.
Which you have to pay will vary depending on the lender and mortgage deal.
Some mortgage lenders may be willing to negotiate or waive certain fees, so it's worth exploring your options and discussing your needs with potential lenders.
Mortgage brokers can also help you find the best mortgage deals and navigate the application process, but they may also charge fees for their services.
Mortgage arrangement fee
An arrangement fee (or a product fee) is common. It is the charge for arranging or setting up the mortgage.
It can be in excess of £1,000, so you should include it in the true cost of the mortgage to you over the life of the loan. The other key component is the interest rate.
Look out for low interest rates concealing high fees. Best buy tables are often sorted according to headline interest rate, so those with the lowest rates are given the best advertising. Some lenders may charge fees of several thousand pounds to access a rate that may save you just hundreds.
Whether it is best to pay a high arrangement fee for a low interest rate depends on the size of the loan and the duration. If you're borrowing larger amounts or over longer periods then the rate makes more of a difference to the overall cost.
The arrangement fee can usually either be paid upfront or added to the mortgage.
If you pay upfront and then the purchase falls through, then you'll lose the arrangement fee if its not refundable. If you add it to the loan, you'll pay interest on it for the life of the loan.
To get around both of these downsides, the solution is to add the fee to the mortgage, but pay it off immediately. Adding it isn't always possible, particularly if you are at the top of a high loan to value band. To avoid paying interest, you can overpay your mortgage after it completes. Lenders usually allow a margin of overpayments each year (around 10% of the outstanding loan) without penalty.
Your bank or building society will carry out their own lender's valuation of the property to check that if they ever needed to repossess it, they could sell it and recover their unpaid loan and any interest payable. That is because the property is the security on the loan.
Some lenders will charge valuation fees. Others will include them in the arrangement fee. It depends on the type of mortgage product. If you are asked to pay a mortgage valuation fee, expect a cost between £150 and £1,800 depending on the property's value.
The valuation is a survey, carried out by a surveyor, but the aims are to establish that the property exists and how much it could be sold for in a worst case scenario.
It is not a full structural survey, which identifies repairs and maintenance that might be needed.
In Scotland the seller provides a Home Report, which includes a valuation. If it is dated in the last 12 weeks, and produced by a valuer they trust, a lender may accept it in place of a new valuation. If the Home Report is older than 12 weeks, you could ask the seller to obtain an updated version. It will cost them, but they should attract buyers with it.
Mortgage broker's fees
Some brokers charge you. Others are paid on commission by the lender and are 'free' to use by you.
If you do pay a fee, it could be fixed or a percentage of the value of the loan amount. It can vary from £300 to £10,000.
A good broker will ask you to pay when you are accepted for the mortgage, not upfront when you hire them. That means if they don't find you a deal you are happy with, or if the transaction falls through, you don't pay.
Electronic transfer fee
A small additional fee is a transfer fee. This usually costs around £50.
It covers the mortage lender's cost of transferring the loan money to your conveyancer before they send it to the seller's conveyancer.
Likewise, your conveyancer may charge other money transfer fees they carry out as disbursements.
Renovation and home improvement costs
The average buyer spends £6,000 after they have moved in on updates and improvements.
The survey should have highlighted serious problems that need to be fixed straight away, otherwise prioritise improvements based on necessity and cost-effectiveness, and look for affordable solutions to create your ideal living space.
Your mortgage lender will require you to take out buildings insurance to protect your new home against damage from fire, floods, subsidence and other natural disasters.
Even if you don't have a mortgage, your property is an expensive asset and worth insuring.
You are also likely to want to take out contents insurance for all your possessions, and life insurance to pay off your mortgage should you die before the end of the term.
Removal costs depend on the amount of possessions you have to move, the distance you move them, and additional services provided by the removal company.
There are often ways to save money on removals costs, such as packing and disassembling furniture yourself.
You may need temporary storage during the moving process. Shop around for cost-effective storage solutions, and only pay for the space you need.
Mail redirection and address changes
Remember to update your address with various institutions and service providers when you move. There may be costs associated with mail redirection services from Royal Mail.
Professional cleaning services might be necessary when moving out of a rented property or into a new home.
Additional moving-day expenses
Don't forget about other potential costs on moving day, such as childcare, pet care, and food. Plan and budget for these expenses to ensure a smooth and stress-free moving experience.
Once you've moved in, in addition to your monthly mortgage repayments, your property costs will include:
Council tax can range from a couple of hundred pounds per year for a small flat in a low cost local authority area to several thousand pounds for a large detached house in anexpensive borough.
Ground rent and service charge on a leasehold
If you own a leasehold property, you may have to pay an annual ground rent and/or service charges to the freehold owner. This can be from a couple of pounds to several hundred pounds per year. You may also have to contribute to a fund for work on common areas or for repairs to the structure of the building. Ground rent charges were banned in 2022 on new (and voluntarily extended) residential long leases in England and Wales.
These include water, gas and electricity, and television, Internet and telephone.
If you don't have a private parking space, then you may have to pay parking charges to keep your car near your property.
Maintaining property is expensive. Your home may need a new boiler, repairs to the roof, or some other work.