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MSE’s Academy of Money
MSE’s Academy of Money

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5 The other costs of buying a property

It’s not just about getting the mortgage and being able to pay it. There are a number of costs that you will additionally incur as you take ownership of your new home.

This is a montage of five cartoon characters: Mr Cash (the Lender), Mr Stamp (the Taxman), Mrs Lands (the Registrar), Ms Deeds (the Solicitor) and Mr Scales (the Valuer).
Figure 7 Meet the people involved in your property purchase

To show you how these costs may add up, let’s suppose you’re buying a property for £280,000 in England – which is close to the average cost of a property in the UK.

What costs do you incur if you are not a first-time buyer and the property is to be your home (your ‘prime residence’)?

  • Mortgage arrangement fee (common with discount and fixed-rate mortgages and some other products): say, £500.
  • Legal costs including local searches and Land Registry fee: £800.
  • Survey and valuation: £350.
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT): £1,500. (5% of the purchase price above £250,000). Note that first-time buyers pay less than this.
  • Removal costs: say, £700.
  • GRAND TOTAL: £3,850.

There may also be a fee to the mortgage broker if you’ve used one to help choose and organise the mortgage. Some costs arising from getting a mortgage – specifically the arrangement fee – can, subject to the lender’s approval, be added to the mortgage. The other costs will, though, have to be met up front.

Other transaction costs involved in property transactions are the fees payable to an estate agent (if one is used) and the charge for an Energy Performance Certificate in respect of the property. These costs are, though, met by the property seller rather than the buyer.

Box 1 explains Stamp Duty Land Tax in a little more detail.

Box 1 Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

The marginal rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax on residential property purchase in England and Northern Ireland in 2024/25 were:

  • up to £250,000, 0%
  • £250,001 to £925,000, 5%
  • £925,001-£1.5 million,10%
  • above £1.5 million, 12%.

Note that first-time buyers are exempt from paying SDLT on the first £425,000 of a property’s value provided that the property they are buying costs no more than £625,000. Purchases above £625,000 do not qualify for any first-time buyer SDLT relief. Also note that a surcharge of 3% is charged on second homes (i.e., homes not used by the buyers as their usual residence).

In Scotland the equivalent tax to SDLT is Land and Buildings Transactions Tax (LBTT) and in Wales it is Land Transaction Tax (LTT). The Scottish Parliament and Welsh Parliament have the power to – and do – apply their own rates for these equivalents of SDLT.

The next section reviews the range of risks and challenges that come with a mortgage. It will look at how coping with the costs of a mortgage needs to be embedded into wider household financial management.