The post that goes through what my purchase costs were as a first-time buyer in London.
It’s pretty impossible to come up with an exact figure for what it costs to buy a property. It obviously depends on a lot of things: where you’re buying, whether you’re a first-time buyer, the cost of the property.
But it’s helpful to have a bit of a guideline about how much you need to set aside, other than the deposit. It’s no good getting excited because you’ve finally reached enough savings to cover 10% of the property you want to buy. The costs that build up on top of that mean that you’re not there yet.
Below is what I spent on buying my one bed flat in London. I haven’t included the cost of the deposit because that is far too variable depending on the value of the property and how much you’ve decided to stump up in deposit.
|Legal fees and disbursements||£2,056.65||When I asked around for recommendations for conveyancers I was having a difficult time finding anyone who would recommend theirs. In the end I got given the advice that they are all terrible so just go for the cheapest one.
So I went for a cheap, high-churn firm that the estate agent suggested. And I regretted it. They were terrible and I had to do a lot of the legal thinking myself. So many things would have slipped through the net if I hadn’t spotted them. And even now, over a month since completion, I am chasing them for documents they should have given me that they have seemingly completely forgotten.
Lesson is, don’t go cheap! However, I don’t think mine ended up particularly low-cost. The fees sounded cheap at first, but then they added on extra because it’s a leasehold (which creates a lot of extra legal work), then because I have a mortgage, and then extra for storing my documents etc. So what I’ve ended up paying is probably about standard for residential conveyancing.
Definitely don’t get trapped into thinking you need a solicitor that is geographically close to you. I wish I’d made enquiries of a solicitor my friend recommended from another city.
|Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)||£600||This one is a “how long is a piece of string” because it’s a percentage of the property value. If you’re a first time buyer, the current law provides for no SDLT up to £300,000 and 5% from £300,000-£500,000.
If the property is worth over £500,000 then the percentage charge is tiered but starts to kick in at £125,000.
There’s an SDLT calculator here.
|Building Survey||£695||Don’t skimp on getting a full building survey. It may show up something major that means the sale is a no-go or you need to knock a lot off the price. The standard building survey was £575 and based on that I had a follow up asbestos survey for £120.
I found my surveyor via the comparison site Really Moving, which I’d recommend using.
|Removal costs (van and boxes)||£282.95||If you’re not a first time buyer and you’re moving a whole house worth of stuff then you’ll most likely need to hire a removal company which will push up this cost.
I hired a van for my stuff (which included a fair bit of furniture, kitchen equipment etc.) which my dad drove. That cost £258. I then purchased some packing boxes for £24.95 – although as these were unreasonably expensive (in my view) I mostly stuffed things into suitcases, backpacks and bin bags.
|Royal Mail re-direct||£66.99||It makes sense to pay for your post to be redirected to your new home. I paid for a year of redirection.|
|Big grocery shop||£166.15||A lot of this isn’t strictly limited to moving house as a significant chunk of my big online grocery shop was food I’d have had to buy anyway.
But I also spent a hell of a lot buying household cleaning products and “cupboard staples” like salt and pepper, as I was filling up my cupboards from scratch.
|Furniture||£4,442||Furniture is another “how long is a price of string” one. If you’ve furnished your own place before then you may need to buy nothing. Or you may fill your home for next to nothing from Freecycle or Gumtree.
I’m embarrassed to say that I spent an eye watering £2,600 on my sofas (and that was with 20% off in the sale). But they are so bloody comfortable I’m trying not to regret it. Also, a fair bit of the furniture was left with the flat – all the white goods and the dining room table and chairs. Plus the wardrobe and chest of drawers were built in. So perhaps my total isn’t far off what someone furnishing a one bed flat from scratch would end up paying.
|Living costs buffer||£3,000||You obviously don’t want to spend every penny you have on moving as you’ll still need to, you know…live, in the meantime. You may not feel you need a £3,000 cushion, but make sure you have something saved up.|
I had set aside £11,250 on top of my deposit before I started to look for a property, so it was a pretty close guess. And, of course, it will take a while to complete on a property purchase so you may not feel the need to save the full amount before even starting to look for a property. But remember that the purchase costs as a first-time buyer (in fact, as any buyer) sure do clock up. And let’s not forget the additional month-to-month costs now you’re a homeowner…