Mastering the Move: A Comprehensive Guide to the Hidden Costs of Buying Property

couple with paperwork, laptop and calculator working out the cost of moving

Moving house is an exciting journey, often symbolising a fresh start or a step up the property ladder. However, it’s also a process fraught with various costs, some obvious and others less so.

But don’t worry, we’re here to shed light on the financial aspects of moving house.

Understanding these costs upfront can help you budget effectively, avoiding unwelcome surprises along the way:

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or Equivalent

One of the most significant costs when buying a house in many jurisdictions is the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) in England, Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland, and Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in Wales. The amount you’ll pay depends on the purchase price of your new home and whether it’s your first property. There are various calculators online to help you estimate your stamp duty bill. First-time buyers benefit from relief schemes that can significantly reduce or eliminate this cost, but it’s essential to check the latest thresholds and rates.

Valuation and Survey Fees

Your mortgage lender will require a valuation to ensure the property is worth the loan amount. This fee varies depending on the lender and the property’s value, some lenders offer free valuations but others charge for this on application. You might also opt for a more detailed survey to check for structural problems, which can range from a basic home condition survey costing a few hundred pounds to a more comprehensive building or structural survey costing upwards of a thousand.

Legal Fees

Conveyancing—the legal process of transferring property from one owner to another—comes with its set of fees. You’ll need a solicitor or conveyancer to handle this, and costs can vary widely based on the property’s complexity and location. Expect to pay anywhere from £500 to £1,500 plus VAT. This fee should cover conducting local searches, registering the property with the Land Registry, and handling the funds transfer.

Mortgage Fees

Mortgage-related costs might include an arrangement fee (this can vary but typical arrangement fee on a residential mortgage is £999) or a mortgage valuation fee (mentioned earlier). Some of these fees can be added to your mortgage, but this means you’ll pay interest on them over the loan term. It’s worth discussing with your mortgage advisor whether paying upfront or adding to your mortgage is the best strategy for you.

Insurance Costs

When you buy a home, you’ll need buildings insurance to cover the structure. It’s often a requirement of your mortgage lender before you exchange contracts. The cost varies based on the property and the level of cover. You might also consider contents insurance to protect your belongings, and protection products such as critical illness cover, which will help with mortgage payments if you’re unable to work due to sick leave and life insurance to cover your mortgage in case of your untimely death.

Moving Expenses

The physical act of moving can also be costly. Hiring a professional moving company can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds, depending on how much you’re moving and how far. You can save money by moving yourself, but consider the time, effort, and potential for injury or damage to your belongings.

Immediate Home Improvements and Repairs

It’s not uncommon to need or want to make immediate changes to your new home. Whether it’s a lick of paint, new carpets, or more significant renovations, these costs can add up quickly. Set aside a budget for these early home improvements so you’re not caught off guard.

Utility and Service Set-Up Fees

Switching or setting up new utility services (gas, electricity, water, internet) may involve fees. While these are generally not exorbitant, they can add up, especially if you’re moving into a home that requires new connections or extensive setup.

Council Tax and Ongoing Utilities

Remember to account for council tax, which can vary significantly depending on your location and the property band. Additionally, factor in your ongoing utility bills, which will depend on your usage, the size of your new home, and the efficiency of its heating and insulation.

Emergency Fund

Finally, it’s wise to have an emergency fund. Moving into a new home can bring unforeseen expenses, such as emergency repairs. Having a financial cushion can give you peace of mind during this transitional period.

Planning and Budgeting

To navigate these costs successfully:

  • Create a detailed budget that includes all the moving expenses, not just the mortgage and stamp duty.
  • Shop around for services like conveyancing, surveys, and moving companies to get the best deal.
  • Speak to a mortgage advisor to understand all the potential mortgage-related fees and the best way to manage them.
  • Consider the timing of your move since some costs (like moving services) can be higher at peak times.
  • Save for an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses without derailing your finances.

Moving house is undoubtedly expensive, but with careful planning and budgeting, you can manage these costs effectively. Remember, investing in a new home is not just about the financial outlay; it’s about creating a new space for your future. By understanding and preparing for the costs involved, you can make your move as smooth and stress-free as possible.

If you’d like help with an Agreement in Principle (AIP), your mortgage application or protection products available, contact one of our friendly advisors who would be happy to have a chat and help guide you through it all.


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