What's the real price; no really?


It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned purchasing professional, there’s no getting around it; buying a property is expensive. And if and when you do find a property you like, it’s important to remember the number at the bottom of the listing should be treated as a starting point.

It’s a guide to help you decide if you should click ‘arrange a viewing’ or check your filters and run another search. The real cost of your house will be higher. Much higher, depending on the type of property. But, that said, excluding any failures in your survey or other nasty post-purchase surprises, you can get a pretty good idea of what the ancillary costs of purchasing your property will be.

Stamp duty
Excluding the house itself, this is the big one. Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax on properties bought in England and Northern Ireland. And you’ll need to pay it when you buy a residential property that costs more than £125,000, which is going to happen if you want more than a parking space in London. The reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) introduced in 2014, mean the majority of buyers will pay less tax, but if you’re looking for properties above £900,000, you can expect to pay a higher level. Stamp Duty rates only apply to the portion of the property price in each tax band and not the full purchase amount as it did prior to 4 December 2014. This means a 3-bed Victorian maisonette in Fulham, listed for £995,000, will require £43,250 in stamp duty, around £4000 more than before the reform. And if the property you purchase is a second home, you’ll incur a further 3% cost on the whole price.

A lucky few may be qualified to handle their own affairs, but for the rest of us will need to engage a solicitor to assist with the legal aspect of buying a house. As with stamp duty, the price depends on the size of the property. For the above example of a 3-bed Victorian maisonette, priced at just under a million, you can expect solicitors fees to be in the region of £2400, though this does include the monies for conveyancing searches, including local and Land Registry.

Separate to the searches mentioned above, surveys are broadly optional, but the results can help with negotiations on prices. You should always engage a qualified surveyor, they should be members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The surveys themselves range from a Condition Report (£300 or more) up to a full Home Condition survey, which reaches £900 depending on the size of the house.

Mortgage valuation fees
This is the fee charged by your mortgage lender for commissioning a mortgage valuation, and surprise, surprise, it varies depending on the property, but for a £1m house, it should be around £150.

Removal costs
Don’t forget this one. Let’s assume you’re stepping up the ladder and moving from a two-bed to a three-bed. Well according to removalreviews.co.uk, the average costs for moving a 2 bed are approximately £600, with packing services estimated at an extra £250.

Maybe it’s at your end, or maybe the people who moved out of your new place didn’t do a very good job, but having £250 in the kitty for a deep clean is not a bad idea, because it’s the last thing you want to be doing on moving day.