Lifestyle Guides

The hidden cost of moving home

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Whether you’re a first-time buyer, already on the property ladder or renting, moving home is expensive. And in addition to the property cost, you're expected to pay numerous fees.

Here we look at the additional costs and fees associated with moving home.

What impacts the price of the property?

The not-so-hidden primary cost of moving home is the property price. This is affected by numerous factors including

  • the age and condition of the property
  • its size and usable space
  • its location
  • local amenities – in particular, schools
  • economic factors like interest rates
  • supply and demand

And there’s no getting around it – property is expensive. In August 2022, the average property price in the UK was £296,000[1] which is a whopping £36,000 more expensive than at the same time last year.

What are the costs of moving home for first-time buyers?

For first-time buyers, it’s worth considering using a mortgage broker. There are also several fees and costs to budget for, and you’ll almost certainly need to use a solicitor or licensed conveyancer for the purchase.

In addition, there’s the small matter of raising the deposit to secure the house.

Stamp duty is a cost new buyers don't need to worry over. For first-time buyers, this is only payable on homes over £425,000. Bear in mind: the rules are different in Scotland and Wales (see below).

You can read our first-time buyers’ guide to mortgages.

Please note that our list of costs may not be exhaustive. You might also be charged other fees such as a booking fee, a mortgage account fee, a CHAPS payment when the mortgage provider transfers the money to your solicitor, and an exit or closure fee when the mortgage ends.

You could also be charged in the event of late or missed payments.

Raising the deposit

The main financial hurdle for first-time buyers is raising a deposit, which can be between 5% to 25% of the property’s value.

You'll get better mortgage rates with a larger deposit as you borrow less. That means paying back less each month.

According to the UK House Price Index, the average cost of a UK home is £294,559[2]. So, if a mortgage required a 15% deposit, you’d need £44,184 to get a mortgage for 85% of the property’s value.

Using a mortgage broker

While it’s not mandatory, mortgage brokers have professional tools to search the mortgage market for you, and they’ll recommend the best deal available for your circumstances.

Sometimes brokers will earn their money from commission and won’t charge you a fee. But if they do, it’s likely to be around 0.3% of the loan amount. The average value of a mortgage in Q3 2021 was £175,830[3]. So, a 0.3% fee would cost £527.49.

Mortgage brokers can find you a better deal. However, they charge an additional fee. You'll likely make this money back over your mortgage through reduced interest rates.

Arrangement fee

The arrangement fee is the administration cost the lender charges for organising your mortgage.

Not all lenders charge an arrangement fee, but you should expect to pay roughly £1,000 to £2,500[4].

You can pay this upfront, or some products will let you add it to your mortgage. However, remember that the extra money will accrue interest.

Valuation fee

This is a fee that lenders charge to inspect the new property and determine its value.

This is for the lender’s benefit, whereas a proper survey is for yours. The cost varies, but you should budget £300 for this.

Getting a survey

While a valuation fee determines the home’s value, a survey should uncover potential issues. If the survey finds any issues, it may help you decide whether the property is worth the investment or could help during renegotiation.

You can find out more about surveys in our step-by-step guide to buying a house. But according to Checkatrade[5], you can expect to pay the following:

  • RICS condition report: £300
  • RICS homebuyer report: £450
  • Building or structural survey: £550

Solicitor’s fees

You can buy a house without using a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, but it isn't advisable.

A solicitor handles all the contracts for you, finds out information from the seller, carries out searches, and deals with the HM Land Registry (or Land Register of Scotland). They can also give you legal advice if any problems arise.

According to Money Saving Expert[6], a solicitor or conveyancer should cost between £800 and £1,500. There’s also the Land Registry fee, which is around £500.

You can find out more about getting a solicitor or conveyancer at Money Helper.[1] 

Home insurance

While home insurance isn’t a legal requirement, some lenders require you to have buildings insurance as a condition of the mortgage. Most lenders will ask if you have cover in place.

Find out more about whether you should take out home insurance when moving.

What are the costs of moving home for existing homeowners?

Existing homeowners will need to pay several of the fees listed above. However, among additional costs, you’re likely to have to pay stamp duty, a fee to your estate agent and more solicitor’s fees.

Home deposit

The deposit for existing homeowners works the same as for first-time buyers. However, you may already have the deposit in the equity of your current home. To check, subtract your current mortgage balance from your sale price.

For example, if you have £170k left to pay on your mortgage and sell your property for £230k, you’ll have 60k to put towards your deposit and any other fees.

If you have a Help to Buy loan, you’ll need to subtract 20% or 40% (depending on your loan) from the sale price first to work out your equity.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty – or to give it its full title, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) – is a tax payable on buying a property in England and Northern Ireland. Your solicitor or conveyancer usually pays it during the property exchange. Stamp duty requires payment within 14 days of purchase.

As mentioned, first-time buyers are exempt from stamp duty unless the property is over £425,000 in value. Otherwise, this is how much you’d expect to pay when buying a residential property in England or Northern Ireland:

Property price

Stamp duty

Up to £250,000

0%

£250,001 to £925,000

5%

£925,001 to £1.5 million

10%

Over £1.5 million

12%

You can also use the stamp duty calculator on GOV.UK.

In Scotland, the stamp duty equivalent is Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT). This is what you’d expect to pay on buying a residential property in Scotland:

Property price

LBTT

Up to £145,000

0%

£145,001 to £250,000

2%

£250,000 to £325,000

5%

£325,001 to £750,000

10%

Over £750,000

12%

There is an exemption for first-time buyers in Scotland, who don’t have to pay LBTT on a property up to £175,000. If the property costs more than this, they’re still exempt from paying for the portion of the property that falls under £175,000.

Wales replaced it with Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in April 2018. This is what you’d expect to pay on a residential property in Wales:

Property price

LTT

Up to £225,000

0%

£225,001 to £400,000

6%

£400,001 to £750,000

7.5%

£750,001 to £1.5 million

10%

Over £1.5 million

12%

There is no exemption for first-time buyers in Wales.

Estate agent fees

When selling your home via an estate agent, you’re likely to be charged a percentage of the sale price. This fee covers their commission and tends to be between 0.75% and 3%. The price will vary depending on the type of contract.

If you opt for a contract where a sole agency sells your property, the average fee in 2022 is 1.18% plus VAT (or 1.42% including VAT)[7]. So, if you sell your UK average-priced home at £294,559, you’ll pay the agent around £4,182.

Home-seller advice website The Advisory recommends never paying an agency upfront, not least because only roughly 50% of properties will sell. It suggests trying to secure a ‘no sale no fee’ agreement.

Solicitor’s fees

As above, you’re likely to need to pay a solicitor or licensed conveyancer for the purchase of your new home, and you’ll also need to pay them for the sale of the current one.

It’s a good idea to use the same solicitor for both. That’ll make the process more efficient and means you’ll deal with fewer people.

The average conveyancing fee for selling a property in 2022 is £1,690[8], according to Compare My Move.

It’s worth noting that using a solicitor is likely to be more expensive than using a licensed conveyancer. The difference is that the solicitor has legal expertise and is qualified to deal with any legal issues which may arise.

Early repayment fee

If you’re planning to switch mortgage providers before your current fixed-term mortgage ends, your current provider may charge you an early repayment fee.

It’s typically between 1 and 5% of the value of the early repayment[9], but reduces every year completed of your fixed-term mortgage.

What are the costs of moving to a leasehold property?

If the property you’re moving to is a leasehold (typically flats and maisonettes), there are additional charges to account for.

These are all variable, and fall into three types:

  • Ground rent: This is a rental payment made to the freeholder for use of their land. The good news if you’re buying a newly built leasehold property is that ground rent will be zero, thanks to a change in the law in June 2022. This will also come into effect for new retirement properties from April 2023.
     
  • Service charges: These are contributions towards the upkeep of the building, such as cleaning and maintaining common areas, and work done to the outside of the building, like painting, fixing the roof and guttering.
     
  • Administration charges: These tend to be charged in conjunction with buying or selling the property. Your solicitor or conveyancer can explain these on review of the lease. Please bear in mind that the conveyancing fees you pay are likely to be higher with a leasehold property, as this is more complicated, and requires more legal work.

What are the costs of moving to a rental property?

While renting may technically be less expensive than buying, would-be tenants still face financial hurdles.

The big one is paying the landlord both a tenancy deposit and the first month’s rent – or even the first two months’ rent - in some cases. So, in the worst-case scenario, you’ll have to raise 13 weeks’ rent upfront.

Good to know: Unless the rental property costs over £50,000 a year, the landlord can’t ask for more than 5 weeks’ deposit[10].

Other potential costs include being asked for a holding deposit to reserve a property. If this happens to you, it’s worth knowing your rights. You can find out more about holding deposits at Citizens Advice here.

Renting a property through a letting agency can also come with additional costs, which you may not get from going to a private landlord directly. Again, it’s good to know your rights – the Tenant Fees Act prohibits certain fees.

For example, letting agents and landlords in England can’t charge fees for references, credit or immigration checks, or administration – including renewing the tenancy when the fixed-term contract ends.

Finally, while not a legal requirement, you might also consider getting contents insurance for a rental property. Find out the considerations for taking out insurance as a tenant here.

Miscellaneous costs

Even when the vendors, landlords, solicitors, estate or letting agents and other parties have been paid, there are still additional services you may have to budget for.

For example, does the property you’re moving out of have to be professionally cleaned? Or does the one you’re moving into?

If you need to move a lot of belongings, you might also have to factor in the cost of van hire, or removal service.

And if there’s a gap between moving out of one property and into another, you may have to look into the storage costs. This can be expensive, so it’s worth shopping around.

Finally, if you're getting ready to move house, check out our ultimate moving home checklist. This covers everything you need to do from one month before your move date until the actual moving day.

 

Flexible home insurance from Admiral

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