Home Buying Guide: The One-Off Costs

Arrangement Fee

A fee charged by lenders to cover the cost of setting up the mortgage. Some lenders waive this fee.

Lender's Valuation (Basic Valuation)

All lenders require a valuation of the property to check that it is worth the price being paid for it. This is commissioned by the mortgage lender but you must cover the cost. The cost of the valuation depends on the value of the property - for example, allow about £125 for a property worth £50,000, £165 for a £100,000 house and so on. Some lenders do not charge this fee, as an incentive for you to take out a mortgage with them.


It is strongly advised that you have your own independent, more detailed survey carried out to check for any defects. There are three types of survey: the Valuation usually carried out for the Lender (see above); the Homebuyer's Report which costs between £250 and £500; and the more comprehensive Building Survey (Structural Survey) which can cost anything up to £1,000 plus VAT, depending on the value of the house. You should also consider having newly built properties surveyed as, although the condition of new properties is guaranteed by the builder, it is much safer to get any snagging carried out before you move in, or while you can retain money against outstanding works. The alternative of claiming from the builder afterwards can be a painful experience.

Legal/Conveyancing Fees

You will need to hire a solicitor to deal with the legal aspects of buying a property. There is no standard fee so it is a good idea to shop around for the best rate. Some solicitors charge a flat rate while others charge a percentage of the property price, normally up to half a percent. As well as the price of your house, the fee will take into account factors such as the amount of paperwork involved, how much skill is required and how complicated the transaction is.

You will also have to pay for the legal work done by your lender's solicitor. Again, prices vary so ask your lender how much they charge. If you use the same solicitor as the lender to do your conveyancing this may save you money, but compare charges with other firms.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty, also known as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), is a tax charged for residential properties in the UK with a purchase price of more than £125,000.

However, in July 2020 the Stamp Duty threshold was temporarily increased to £500,000 by the UK government to support the housing market amid the coronavirus pandemic. This increase to the threshold will continue until 31 March 2021.

The amount of Stamp Duty to pay rises incrementally depending on the purchase price of the property.

This means until 31 March 2021 there is no stamp duty to pay on properties worth £500,000 or less. The next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000) incurs a rate of 5%. The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5m will incur a rate of 10%. The remaining portion (above £1.5m) has a rate of 12%.

This means that the stamp duty on a £600,000 property will be £5,000. The stamp duty on a £900,000 property will be £20,000 and properties worth £1m will incur stamp duty of £28,750.

A different set of rates apply in Scotland from April 2015 when the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) replaced the SDLT. More information about the LBTT can be found via Scotland's tax authority Revenue Scotland.

Land Registry Fee

The Land Registry is a government department that looks after the registers of properties in England and Wales. It charges a fee for transferring the register to the new owner. This fee is charged according to property price. It can be applied for and paid for by post or online. The Land Registry offers a 50% discount on fees paid online through HM Land Registry Business e-services.

Price (£) Fee by post (£) Fee via online (£)
up to £80,000 40 20
80,001 - 100,000 80 40
100,001 - 200,000 190 95
200,001 - 500,000 270 135
500,001 - 1,000,000 540 270
1,000,001 and over 910 455

Local Authority Search Fees

Local searches will be carried out by your solicitor/conveyancer to ensure that there are no potential problems such as planning permission on neighbouring properties or plans for new roads nearby. Allow at least £60, or more in London boroughs.

Other Search Fees and Disbursements

These include index map, commons, the coal authority, land charge, company searches, bank transfer fees. Allow about £70 to cover an average house purchase.

Estate Agent's Commission

If you're selling your property as well as buying one, the sum charged by your estate agent has to be taken into account. Usually this is charged as a percentage of the property price, around 1.5 - 2 per cent on average. If you are selling it yourself, you will need to pay for advertisements.

House-hunting Expenses

House-hunting itself can be a costly business - allow money for eating out, travel and telephone calls, and hotels if you are buying in a different area. Consider whether you will need time off work.

Removal Fees

Ask for quotes from at least 3 different removal firms, as prices vary. Remember you will need to give tips. You can do the removal yourself, but this is much more time-consuming and inconvenient. If you are DIY-ing it, costs will include van hire (+VAT and insurance), petrol, and return travel from the van hire company when you return it. You will also need about £25 for insurance.

MIG Fees (mortgage indemnity guarantee)

This is an insurance premium charged by some lenders where your loan amount is more than 75% of the price of the property - in other words, where the loan to value (LTV) is greater than 75%. Other lenders do not charge an MIG, while some only charge when the LTV is more than 80 or 90%.

This is charged in case you default on your mortgage repayments and the mortgage lender cannot recover its money. Note that this protects the lender, not you.

Costs vary from lender to lender but typical MIG premiums are:

  • 4 per cent of the amount borrowed above 75 per cent on a loan of up to 90 per cent of the purchase price
  • 6 per cent of the amount borrowed above 75 per cent on a loan of up to 90-95 per cent of the purchase price
  • 8 per cent of the amount borrowed above 75 per cent on a loan of up to 95-100 per cent of the purchase price

Other Costs

A few more to bear in mind:

  • Buildings insurance premiums
  • Contents insurance premiums
  • Additional removal insurance
  • Disconnection of services (water, gas, electricity, telephone)
  • Reconnection of services
  • Installation of new equipment
  • Carpet laying
  • Kennelling of pets
  • Mail redirection
  • Change of address notice

Contingency Fund

Leave a decent-sized contingency fund for emergencies. You do not want to be left completely penniless in case you have unexpected extra costs.