House prices rise and fall, but there’s lots of additional extras that are always there. If we want people to own property, then we need to bring these costs down right now.
Another day, another housing headline. Recent stories have included house prices rising (according to the Land Registry, prices rose by 0.4% in July) and house prices falling (property analyst Hometrack tells us that they fell by 0.3% between July and August).
Latest figures from the Bank of England reveal that mortgage approvals are below half the levels they were in 2007 and that total lending was the weakest since March. We’ve also been told that the self-employed and first-time buyers are suffering because of restrictions on lending. However, there’s one story that seems to always get lost in the economics – the actual cost of buying a house.
The real cost of buying a house
When I say the cost of buying a house, I don’t mean the purchase price – I mean the extras that go with it. I recently bought a house for just over £300,000, but the cost didn’t end there.
Stamp duty, solicitors’ fees, an energy performance certificate (EPC), transfer charges, estate agent’s fees, mortgage fees, valuations, surveys, searches, land registry fees – all of these added around £20,000 onto my final bill. And that was before little things like moving costs, storage fees and insurance.
In the current climate, where lenders want higher deposits and are less willing to lend, these additional fees can make or break many sales. Particularly for first-time buyers, who are the life blood of the housing market.
Change needed in the housing market
It’s time the government looked closely at these costs and made some serious changes to the way homes are bought and sold in this country. But until that happens there are some things you can do to keep costs down:
- Sell your house yourself – it may be time-consuming, but this’ll save a fortune on estate agents who are still charging between 1 and 3% for their ‘services’.
- Shop around for your EPC – we recently found that prices can vary dramatically.
- Work out the best deal for your mortgage – not just the rate, but the full cost of the product including fees.
- Compare solicitor’s costs – don’t just go with the first one you find.
One final word of advice – if you’re thinking of doing the removal work yourself to save money – don’t. Call in the professionals. It’s back-breaking work and DIY removal can cause anything from broken plates to broken arms. Just ask my best mate, who spent two months in plaster after his last move…