Costs and fees when buying a home

When you buy a home, on top of the cost of paying for the property, you will need to pay fees for a solicitor to carry out the legal work involved. If you want to have your own valuation or survey carried out, you'll have to pay for that too.

Solicitor's fees

If you are buying a new home, you will need to pay a solicitor a fee to carry out the legal work involved (this is called conveyancing). It is difficult to say how much this will cost, but fees can run into thousands. Ask various solicitors for fee quotes, this will give you an idea of how much their fees will be. However, you should be aware that you might be charged more if your purchase becomes more complicated, or takes longer to finalise.

Shop around before you appoint anybody and make sure you find out:

  • whether the solicitor charges a fixed fee or whether their fee depends on how much work they have to do

  • what the fee includes, for example, does it cover stamp duty, registration fees, expenses, VAT and any other outlays?

  • how much you will have to pay them if the sale falls through.

If you are buying and selling properties at the same time, using the same solicitor for both transactions might help to save money.

Read the page on finding a solicitor to find out more, including what you can do if you think their bill is unreasonably high.

Additional legal costs

Solicitors will have to pay out various expenses to do all the legal work involved in buying your house. This might include the cost of obtaining copies of deeds or charges payable to your mortgage lender for setting up and processing your mortgage. These additional costs are called outlays and will be included on the bill you get from your solicitor after you have bought your house.

Outlays are not part of the money you are paying to the solicitor for the legal work. They are incidental costs that have to be paid to process the conveyancing on your behalf. Land and Building Transaction Tax are also classed as outlays although they are usually listed separately on the bill.

Getting your own valuation

A valuation is a basic overview, designed to ascertain how much the property is worth and is part of the mandatory home report provided by the seller. If you're unhappy with the home report, you can carry out your own valuation of the property.

Lenders are also free to carry out their own valuations. For example, they may want to get a 'mortgage valuation' before they make you a formal mortgage offer.

The cost of the valuation depends on the size and age of the property, but is usually around £100-£250. You'll probably be charged for it, but may get the money refunded when you take out the mortgage. Some lenders offer free valuations, while many will use the results of the survey rather than commissioning a separate valuation.

Getting your own survey

A survey is also provided in the mandatory home report from the seller. However, if for some reason you're unhappy with the report provided, you can get your own survey carried out, to make sure there aren't any problems with it. Sometimes your mortgage lender will organise a separate survey.

The cost depends on the kind of survey you require. Basic surveys can cost anything from around £250-£500 to carry out yourself, depending on how big the property is and how detailed a survey you want. If the property is very old or unusual, you may need to get a full structural survey carried out. These start from around £450.

The page on valuations and surveys has more information on what the different kinds of survey involve.

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Last updated: 2 August 2017

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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