There are few things in life more exciting than buying a first home, our first place together was an Edwardian flat in Streatham. Unfortunately, there are also fewer things more stressful and expensive than house buying, as I know all too well from the last year of selling our second house, a Victorian semi in Nottingham we moved into when L was a baby. And buying our third, a country cottage overlooking the Peak District. I wouldn’t change a thing though, I’m so glad we moved.
What first time buyers sometimes don’t factor in, is that when you buy a house, it’s not just the house itself you have to pay for, there are other annoying costs that you have to consider in your budget. Before you indulge all your wildest moving house fantasies and get real with Rightmove, it is sadly vital that you learn about and prepare for these hidden expenses, so they don’t overwhelm you later.
Here are five people commonly forget about:
- Stamp Duty
Stamp duty is a government tax you have to pay on houses costing £125,001 or more and is something that can easily add thousands of pounds to the cost of buying a home. Thankfully, first-time buyers don’t have to pay this tax on the first £300,000 for houses worth up to £500,000, which means that, as long as your chosen home costs £300,000 or less, you don’t have to worry about this cost.
What some first-time property buyers don’t realise is that your mortgage doesn’t cover the entire cost of your home; You also need to put down a deposit. This deposit generally needs to be between five and twenty percent of the purchase price, and as such, can easily be tens of thousands. You’re a lot more likely to be accepted for a mortgage if you have a large deposit, which is something you should think about if your credit score isn’t great.
- Conveyancing Fees
When you’re buying a home, you need to hire a conveyancing solicitor to deal with any legal aspects of the process. When you do this, it’s vital that you choose a solicitor with fixed fees and that you ask for a conveyancing solicitor quote, rather than an estimate, to avoid you paying more than you expected to. Also, make sure that you go to a “no move, no fee” firm, so you won’t have to pay legal fees if the purchase falls through. Nowadays there are lots of fixed fee deals, but the service can be limited and not very localised which can be stressful if your move or home is very complicated or the area is tricky for a non local to fathom.
- Professional Survey
Before you even consider putting in an offer for a property, it’s vital that you get it inspected by someone that knows what to look out for. Although this may seem like an unnecessary expense, it could save you a lot of time and money if the house turns out to have a list of structural problems. Unfortunately, as useful as surveys are, they can be expensive, so it’s important that you’re prepared for this.
Your future home may not have any major structural issues, but that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect and ready to be moved in to. More often than not, houses need at least a bit of work and redecoration before they’re ready, so make sure you remember to budget for this. You can, of course, save some money completing the work yourself, but if you don’t really know what you’re doing, then it’s best to leave things to a professional.
With any new home comes the urge to splurge on new furnishings and accessories too, be warned!
We also found everything that could go wrong or break did in the first year, so have unless you have a very new home, factor in a buffer for emergency investments.
Buying a house is rarely a cheap process, but it’s often more expensive than most people realize. If you want to avoid getting overwhelmed, be realistic and informed with your budget. Or marry a man who loves making spreadsheets, that dear reader, is what I did.