Friday 14th June 2024

The hidden costs of buying your first home

Buying your first home is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful.

There are endless delays, reams of paperwork to fill in and a load offees and charges you never knew existed. Thankfully, though, if you know they are coming, you can plan for them – and you may even be able to save some cash.

Property valuations

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Banks won’t give you a mortgage unless you get a professional known as a surveyor to value the property first.

Unfortunately, these can be pricey. Expect to pay anywhere from £150 to £1,800, depending on how big your home is and what it is worth. A property worth around £250,000, for example, will typically set you back about £250.

But you can save yourself a packet by taking out a mortgage deal that comes with a free property valuation. If you don’t know where to look, try a mortgage broker. For a list of brokers near you, visit unbiased.co.uk.

If you want a more detailed report that assesses whether the walls and foundations are in good shape, you’ll need to pay for a survey. These are slightly more expensive than a basic valuation, costing up to £1,000.

Legal fees

There is a complicated legal process behind buying a home, so you’ll need to employ a solicitor or a specialist property legal expert known as a conveyancer.

They will conduct a number of checks, such as if there are plans to build a motorway nearby or if the property is at risk of flooding and will transfer the cash from you to the seller. This is an expensive process, meaning you will have to fork out in the region of £500 to £1,000.

Land registry fee

This is the fee you have to pay to when telling the Land Registry that you are the new owner of the property.

As with valuation and legal fees, the price is linked to the value of your property. This will cost you from £40 on a property worth up to £80,000 all the way up to £455 on homes worth more than £1 million.

Ok, it won’t bring you to your knees financially, but it’s an added – and often unexpected – cost, nonetheless.

Moving costs

Once the mortgage is all dusted and you’ve got the keys, you’re done. Well, almost. You’ve got to move you all of your furniture in first, of course. Sometimes the excitement of buying their first home means people forget this.

And you won’t be surprised to hear that removal firms can charge the earth.

The price usually depends on how far your gear needs to be transported and how many bedrooms your new pad has. For example, it costs roughly £806 to transport your stuff 50 miles into your shiny new three-bed home, according to comparison site comparemymove.com.

Alternatively, you can rent a van and do it yourself, which is likely to be easier on your wallet but not on your back.

…..I’m not at that stage yet

For many of us, getting on the property ladder may seem like a distant dream. However, there are things you can do to turbo-charge your savings without having to become a hermit.

It may be awkward to ask, but your parents may be able to help you out with a bit of a savings boost. If that’s a no goer, try asking if you can move back into the family home on a low rent. You may dread the thought, but it will help you build up a deposit much more quickly.

For those who would rather be jabbed with hot pokers than move back home, consider looking for cheaper digs or even sub-letting (a fancy property term meaning rent out a room in your property). Be careful here though as you will have to get permission off your landlord first and you may also have to pay tax on the money you earn.

Finally, why not enlist the help of the government? Last year the government launched a savings scheme called the Lifetime Isa to help people by their first property or save for retirement.

The idea is pretty simple: the government will add 25% of what you save each year up to a maximum of £1,000. For example, if you save £3,000 this financial year, the government will add £750 to your savings pot as long as you use that money to buy a home or as a retirement nest egg.



Paul Thomas


Paul Thomas is a former national newspaper journalist and magazine editor. Used to look like that guy Jamie from Coronation Street; then I got heavy.

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