First time buyer - before you buy

Buying your first home? Learn about some of the costs you can expect to pay from mortgage fees to survey costs.

Before you decide to buy a property, you must work out how much you can afford.

First time house buyers often don’t realise that there are so many extra costs when calculating their overall budget. Costs can quickly add up, so it’s best to find out what’s involved before you start house-hunting. But most importantly, can you afford the mortgage? 

Try our mortgage affordability calculator to see how much you can borrow.

The costs and fees you'll need to factor in when arranging a mortgage and buying a home

Having found the property you want to buy and had your offer accepted, there’s an array of costs and fees you can expect to pay:
The amount of money that you agree to pay to the person selling the property. The seller is also known as “the vendor”.
This is a tax, paid by the buyer, on land and property transactions in the UK.

Rates from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021
You only pay the rate for the proportion of the property worth above £500,000. Depending on the price of your property, this means you pay nothing for the first £500,000, then 5% between £500,001 - £925,000, 10% for the portion between £925,001 to £1.5 million, and 12% over £1.5 million.

Rates from 1 April 2021
You will pay nothing for the first £125,000
 -2% between £125,001 to £250,000
 -5% between £250,001 to £925,000
 -10% between £925,001 to £1.5 million and
 -12% over £1.5 million
A solicitor or a specialist lawyer called a conveyancer usually does the legal work. Charges vary enormously, and may depend on the complexity of the work.
There are additional legal fees for “searches”. These are essential legal checks about such things as whether the vendor is actually entitled to sell the property or whether you have any legal obligations once the property is yours.
Most lenders may make charges, such as an “arrangement fee” for doing the paperwork and a “booking fee” for reserving the loan for you at a particular rate. These fees will vary from lender to lender and loan to loan, and are an important consideration to budget for as what may appear to be an attractive headline rate may not be once the fees are taken into account.
Your mortgage lender will charge a fee for valuing the property to ensure that it is worth the money it is advancing. You should also obtain a report from a surveyor about the condition of the property, to find out whether there are any defects in the building.

There are different types of survey (see “Types of survey” below) depending on how much detail you or your mortgage provider wish to consider in terms of the property’s value.
Whilst you can move yourself, particularly if you do not have many possessions, most people use a removal company to transport their furniture and belongings. 

The cost varies depending on how much you are moving, the distance involved and whether you pack your possessions yourself. You should get a range of quotes and check that who you use is a member of the British Association of Movers (BAR).
You should make an allowance in your budget for any alterations or improvements, not just for major structural works such as an extension or new kitchen but also for smaller things such as redecoration or external repairs.
These include items such as a telegraphic transfer fee of around £50 to transfer the mortgage money to the seller’s solicitor, and an “insurance fee”. Many lenders charge this for checking that you have suitable insurance on the new property if you don’t buy insurance from the lender itself.

Types of survey

  • Home Condition Report: 

This is the lowest level survey. It is suitable for conventional properties and newer homes where no major defects are likely. It shows the general condition of the property, offers guidance to legal advisers, and highlights any urgent defects.

  • HomeBuyer Report: 

This is based on the Home Condition Report, but includes a market valuation and a calculation of rebuilding costs for insurance purposes. It will notify you of defects that may affect the value of the property and give advice on repairs and ongoing maintenance. This type of report will be suitable for most homebuyers wanting more than the Home Condition Report.

  • Building Survey: 

This type of survey is the most comprehensive report you can have and is essential for larger or older properties, or if you are planning major works. It will tell you about the property’s condition and includes advice on defects, repairs and maintenance options.

There’s more information on types of survey and how to find a surveyor on the website of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The Deposit

Having decided to go ahead with the purchase of a property, your largest expenditure will be the initial deposit, which is a one-off payment, and the mortgage, which is paid off over several years.

The deposit is the money that you put down yourself. Some people get help from parents, and at the Family Building Society we have introduced a number of products, such as the Family Mortgage, to help you get on the mortgage ladder. With the Family Mortgage you will need at least 5% deposit. This means that, if you want to buy a home costing £200,000 you need to have saved or been gifted at least £10,000. You can find out more about our first time and family assisted mortgages here

Family assisted mortgages

Need help getting onto the property ladder? See our family assisted mortgage deals designed for those customers needing family help to buy their first home.

Getting a mortgage - what you need to know

Our comprehensive guide highlights everything you need to know about getting a mortgage, including useful tips for first time through to last time buyers.