Costs of buying a house and moving

Last updated: April 2024 | 4 min read

There are many costs involved in buying a new home and moving in. You may have to pay stamp duty, mortgage fees, valuation charges, legal fees, and removals costs. Knowing what you will have to pay for, can help you plan better and avoid surprises. Read on to find information specific to your circumstances as a buyer.

As a home buyer, related topics that will prove beneficial for you are, 30 questions you can ask when viewing a house and gathering strong evidence for proof of funds. Also, learn about how you can save for a house deposit.

Upfront costs 

Your equity

The starting place is how much money you'll put towards the cost of the property. This is called the equity you put in, or your deposit.

You might have some savings, and you might need to borrow the remainder. You might use a mortgage lender.

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).

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. Larger deposits often lead to better mortgage deals, with lower interest rates.

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.

Survey costs

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: 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 get the work done.

A basic home condition survey starts from £200, while a thorough full structural survey might cost £600 or more.

You should 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 in different regions

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.

England and Northern Ireland

  • 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.

  • The stamp duty on buying a second home, is an extra 3% on properties costing more than £40,000.

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 on 1st April 2018. This is another tiered tax.

  • There is nothing to pay if the price is under £225,000.

  • The stamp duty on buying a second home is a minimum of 4% in Wales.

  • 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 (LBTT). Rates are also tiered.

  • You pay 0% on properties bought for less than £145,000.

  • The stamp duty on buying a second home is a minimum of 6% in Scotland.

  • First-time buyers are exempt from paying stamp duty on purchases of up to £175,000.

See the page at Revenue.Scot

These taxes apply to transactions of both freehold and leasehold properties, and whether you're a cash buyer or financing the purchase with a mortgage.

Estate agent fees

The buyer does not pay the estate agent's fee.

The cost of the estate agent's services is only paid by the seller, 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.

Legal fees

You will be required to pay a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to carry out the conveyancing- the legal process of transferring property ownership. The average conveyancing fees for the year 2024 are:

  • Freehold properties: the average fee for conveyancing is £1,265.65 (including VAT).

  • Leasehold properties: the average conveyancing cost is £1,491.83 (inclusive of VAT).

Conveyancing fees may soar above £2,000.00 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 different pricing structures such as:

  • Hourly rate: the specific sum may fluctuate depending on variables such as the intricacy of the transaction and the geographic location of the conveyancer. It is not recommended to adopt this method of fee payment.

  • Fixed fee: this refers to setting a fixed fee for handling a home sale transaction. A fixed fee is usually preferable because then you won't have any surprises when the bill arrives after having paid the other costs of buying and moving.

  • Online conveyancers may offer lower fees.

Disbursements: There may be additional fees to pay, called disbursements. When you receive a quote, check what is included in it, and what the extra costs will be. A low headline price may be hiding disbursements.

One type of disbursement is 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.

Find updated information on the charging structure on the UK government's website.

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. Which one you have to pay depends on the lender and the 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 deal and navigate the application process, but they may also charge fees for their services.

Mortgage arrangement fee

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

It can be more than £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. Best buys are often sorted according to headline interest rate. Those with the lowest rates are given the best advertising.

Look out for low interest rates concealing high fees.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 it's 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 is completed. Lenders usually allow a margin of overpayments each year (around 10% of the outstanding loan) without penalty.

Valuation fee

Your bank or building society will carry out their own lender's valuation of the property to check that if they ever need to repossess it, they could sell it and recover their unpaid loan and any interest payable.

Some lenders will charge valuation fees. Others will include them in the arrangement fee. It depends on the type of mortgage product.

For 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. That is because the property is the security on the loan.

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, instead of paying 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 mortgage 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.

Additional costs

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 building 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.

Removals costs

The cost of removals depends on the number of possessions you have to move, the distance you move them, and additional services provided by the removals company.

There are often ways to save money, such as packing and disassembling furniture yourself.

Storage costs

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.

Cleaning costs

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.

Ongoing costs

Once you've moved in, in addition to your monthly mortgage repayments, your property costs will include:

Council tax

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 an expensive 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 chargesto 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, electricity, television, Internet and telephone.

Residents' parking

If you don't have a private parking space, you may have to pay parking charges to keep your car near your property.


Maintaining a property is expensive. Your home may need a new boiler, repairs to the roof, or some other work.

Once you fully grasp all the costs which your new home will incur, only then you will be in a position to make the right decision about budgeting.

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