First time buyer guide

Costs of buying a house

When buying a house it is important to factor in all the up front costs, mortgage costs and on going costs involved in buying and running a property.

Below are the key costs that you need to include in your budget, when establishing what you can afford.

1) Up front costs


The deposit is the amount you put towards the cost of purchasing your property. To get the full choice of deals having a decent deposit amount is important. 40% is generally the optimum deposit, giving you some of the best rates that mortgage lenders will offer.

Use our budget planner to estimate how much you could afford to spend on monthly mortgage repayments.

Stamp duty / land tax

If you are buying in England and your property costs more than £125,000 then you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), unless you are a first-time buyer which means you don't have to pay any SDLT on a property up to £300,000. The amount you pay does depend on the value of your property as it is worked out on a percentage of the purchase price. See our stamp duty guide for more details and for the costs use our calculator.

In Scotland the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Rate applies. Buyers don’t pay tax on the first £145,000. See our Land and Buildings Transaction Tax Rate guide for details and for costs of properties over £145,000 use our calculator.

Valuation fee

This is charged by the mortgage lender to assess the value of your property to determine how much they are prepared to lend you. Depending on the value, the cost can be between £150 to £1,500. Some lenders may not charge depending on the mortgage type.

Surveyor’s fees

You’ve found a property you love but you need to know that it is in good condition before you commit to a purchase. Without a survey you may not be aware of costly work that needs to be done. Types of property survey.

Legal fees

You will need a solicitor or licenced conveyancer to carry out all the legal work involved in buying a property. They will also do local searches.

Read about our conveyancing for buyers service

Electronic transfer fee

Typically costing £40-£50, this covers the lender’s cost of transferring the mortgage money from the lender to the solicitor.

Broker fees

Brokers act as an intermediary between the customer and the lender, and can usually advise on the products of a number of lenders in the market thus saving the customer from having to visit numerous lenders separately.  They 'may' charge a fee. 

Removal costs

These costs will vary depending on how much you have to move and over what distance. Generally removal firms charge more for moving at weekends.

2) Mortgage costs

There are hundreds of mortgages available and a number of different product types. Read our guide on mortgages. Find out how different mortgage types work.


Your mortgage lender will require that the mortgaged property is insured in order to protect their interest in the property, you may also want to look into taking out contents insurance to protect your belongings.

You also need to make sure that you have the right protection should the worst happen. However, putting the right protection i.e. life cover in place could give you and your family the peace of mind that your mortgage could be paid off if anything did happen to you.

Types of cover our selected partners can help with...

3) Ongoing costs


Your mortgage lender will require that the mortgaged property is insured in order to protect its interest in the property. It is also prudent to take out contents insurance to protect your belongings. To protect your family you may want life cover to ensure that the mortgage is paid off should you die before the end of the loan. Other protection policies are available to help protect your investment.

Council tax

The amount you will pay in England and Scotland is based on the valuation band your property falls under, its location and whether or not you are entitled to a discount. Northern Ireland properties are taxed on an individual basis.


Ask the current homeowner what they spend on utilities: electric, gas and water to help you estimate your monthly utility costs. You also need to factor in costs for line rental, calls, broadband, and tv.

Maintenance and repairs

Your survey should have highlighted any expected costs involved with necessary repairs, but you will need to budget for regular decorating and DIY.

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Your initial mortgage appointment is without obligation. Embrace Financial Services normally charge a fee for their services; however, it is payable only on the submission of your mortgage application. The fee will depend on your circumstances but the standard fee is £549. Complex cases usually attract a higher fee. Embrace Financial Services will discuss and agree the fee with you prior to submitting any mortgage application.