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The True Cost of Moving House in the UK in 2020

What is the cost to move house? The cost of moving house in 2020 is probably more expensive than it’s ever been, and it’s for this reason that many people are now choosing to improve rather than move. This includes full home renovations as well as single and double story extensions and full loft conversions. There are many costs involved when it comes to moving house, there are the obvious ones and the ones which people don’t really think of or factor in when planning a move. In the remainder of this article we focus on the real cost of moving house in the U.K. in 2020.

Here’s what you’ll find in Our Guide:

Comparing the Cost of Moving House

The following table provides a comprehensive overview of the costs associated with moving house in 2020. We have listed price ranges, each of which is discussed in further detail below this table.

Comparison of the Cost to Move House in 2020
Expense Type Cost Range
Stamp Duty 2% – 12% of Property Buying Price
Estate Agent Fees High Street – 1% – 3% of Sale Price

Online Only – £99 – £1189* Fixed Fee

Deposit 5-10% of the Purchase Price (Minimum)
Solicitor, Survey and Search Fees £800 – £1500
Valuation and Mortgage Fees £499 – £1499
Packing Supplies and Removal Fees £300 – £800 for Removal Company

£25 – £30 for a 3 Bedroom House Removal Kit

£5 – £10 for a Wardrobe Box or £30 for a Pack of 5

Storage Fees £10 – £60 Per Week
Increased Utility Bills ££ – £££’s
Unexpected Improvement and Maintenance Costs £££ – £££££’s
* – Note that there may be significant increases in the price of estate agent fees based on geographical location. For example, Yopa may charge up to £3,999 to sell a house in some London postcodes.

1. Stamp Duty

The cost of stamp duty is simply ridiculous and adds significant costs to moving house and is one of the major costs which prevents people from moving house. Stamp duty is essentially a land tax which has actually been around longer than you might think. Stamp duty of sorts was first introduced in 1694, and over the years has undergone various reforms. In the past home buyers would pay 1% on homes costing more than £60,000, however in 2014 a tiered system was introduced, which charged a certain percentage on the sale price of the property. An overview of the these current prices in 2020 is shown below:

A Comparison of Stamp Duty Costs in 2020
Property Purchase Price Percentage of Purchase Price Charged for Stamp Duty
Up to £125,000 Zero
The portion from £125,001 to £250,000 2%
The portion from £250,001 to £925,000 5%
The portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million 10%
Anything above £1.5 million 12%

So, overall this means that when moving house in the U.K., buying a £300,000 house will cost you around £5,000 in stamp duty, to be paid within 14 days after completion. The only exception to this is if  you are a first time buyer of course, and then the cost of stamp duty in these circumstances will be £0.00. Note that the system is tiered, so that you ill only pay any given percentage for that tier. E.g. on a £500,000 house you will pay 2% on the amount between £125,000 – £250,000 and 5% on the remaining £250,000. We recommend using a stamp duty calculator to figure out the true cost of stamp duty for your move.

The 2020 – 2021 Stamp Duty Holiday

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic there is now going to be a stamp duty holiday up until March 31st 2021, this will mean that on all property purchases under £500,00 you will not pay ANY stamp duty. 

2 . Estate Agent Fees

Valuation and Mortgage Fees

Next to stamp duty, estate agent fees are the second most costly aspect of moving house. However, in 2020 there are more options than ever for who you choose to market your home, including both physical high street estate agents and online estate agents. However, whoever you choose to market with, the key is that the property is listed onto one of the main property sales search engines including RightMove and Zoopla, as more than 70% of properties are now found online through these two top market leaders.

It’s safe to say that 99% of estate agents, either high street or online, will offer listing of your property through the aforementioned property search engines above, which is good news since individuals are unable to list themselves.

High Street Vs Online Estate Agency Costs

High street estate agents sell properties usually for a percentage fee of the total sale, this may vary between 0.9% – 3%, depending on the service which they offer and on the price of the house. In general, the more expensive the property, then the lower the percentage they charge, but it’s safe to say that on request this price is usually negotiable and don’t be afraid to ask. As a representative example that means you’ll pay around £2,000 – £2,500 for the sale of a £300,000 house.

In comparison, online estate agents charge a fixed, non-negotiable fee which is often lower than the high street estate agents. Their packages often start with a basic listing package that includes a listing on the main property search engines. Additional services such as accompanied viewings, sales board and premium listings are sold for additional fees. The table below provides a brief comparison of the main online estate agents in 2020, we have not detailed what’s included in each of their packages but you can find more information for each on their respective websites. On average you will pay around £1000 for an online estate agent, viewings are considered premium addons, as are sale boards.

A Comparison of Estate Agent Costs
Estate Agent Basic Package Fees Premium Extras?
High Street Estate Agent 1% – 3% of Purchase Price Yes
Purple Bricks £999 Yes
House Simple Free Yes
Door Steps £99 / £199 / £599 Yes
Yopa £889 – £1189 Yes

3. Deposit

The deposit is the amount you want to put down on your home, and in general the bigger the deposit you can afford the better, since a larger deposit will reduce the monthly cost of your mortgage. Additionally, it will also open up lower percentage mortgage rates.

Prior to the financial collapse of 2008 mortgage lenders were offering 110% mortgages, in other words they would lend you the full cost of the house plus an additional 10% to do with what you choose. Clearly, this would not stand the test of time and no longer can buyers find a mortgage for more than the purchase price of the home. In general, you will need to find between 5-10% deposit as a minimum, therefore the average deposit on a £300,000 home will be £15,000 – £30,000.

4. Solicitor, Survey and Search Fees

A solicitor is required most of the time, unless you have significant training yourself. The usual cost for a solicitor will be between £800 – £1500 for a house sale and house purchase. This will include most things from a legal perspective, with the exception of local searches which may cost an additional £150 – £300, depending on what is required.

5. Valuation and Mortgage Fees

Mortgage Fees

A valuation fee is the cost a mortgage lender will charge to value the property on which they intend to lend a mortgage. In general, most mortgage lenders will have deals which offer free property valuation and since a valuation fee can cost between £100 – £1000 we highly recommend you try and find a deal with free valuation fees.

Mortgage fees are more common than valuation fees, and in fact they are usually a way of repackaging a valuation fee into a one off “arrangement fee” so you think you’re getting a good deal. The average mortgage fees tend to range from between £499 and £1499, which becomes due once the mortgage is finalised. This fee can either be paid up front, added to the mortgage monthly payment or added to the end of the mortgage to be payable on completion of the mortgage term (i.e. 25 years). However, there are many good deals out there with no arrangement fee. What you’ll find is that by removing the arrangement fee your monthly mortgage payment will increase by a few pounds per month. We usually recommend you multiple the additional monthly payment over the total intended mortgage term (e.g. 25 years) to see if the figure you will pay over the term adds up to more than the mortgage arrangement fee. On average, there isn’t usually much difference and the money you’d need for the mortgage arrangement fee is usually better off in your own bank account.

6. Packing Supplies and Removal Fees

Packing Supplies Boxes

With regards to physically moving all of your belongings there are a couple of factors to consider:

  • The cost of the removal company or a van (if you choose to self move)
  • The cost of packing supplies such as boxes and hanging rails for cloths

The cheapest way to move is to hire a van yourself, which you can do for between £150 – £200 per day for a large Luton van. However there are a few negatives to this. Firstly, if you choose to move yourself then it’s unlikely you will be covered for any breakages through your insurance, whereas removal companies have specific insurance to cover for this reason. Secondly, unless you have a heavy goods license then the limit of van you will be able to hire is a Luton van which won’t usually be large enough to move everything in one go, so you will end up doing multiple trips. Hiring a company means they will move everything in one trip using vehicles large enough to transport everything all at once. The cost difference will be around 3-4 times the amount, with average removal companies charging between £300 – £800.

Removal companies don’t include packing supplies, so this has to be factored in. Boxes can be purchased off the internet from stores such as eBay or Amazon. These supplies are often sold in bulk with 10 large boxes costing between £15 – £20 per pack. House moving kits are also available and are based upon the number of bedrooms you have in your home. One of these kits for a 2-3 bedroom house will cost around £50.00. But be aware that these kits are seldom enough for what the average home requires and you will end up buying more.

Finally, you may also need to consider wardrobe boxes if you need to transport large amounts of clothes, these cost between £5-£10 each, or £30 for a pack of 5.

A Comparison of Removal Costs
Expense Type Cost
Van Hire – Self Move (No Insurance Included) £150 – £200 Per Day
Removal Company (Insurance Included) £300 – £800
Packing Boxes – Self Supplied (From Local Supermarkets / Shops) Free
Packing Boxes – 10 Large Boxes £15 – £20 Per Pack
Packing Boxes – 2-3 Bedroom Moving Kit £30 – £50
Wardrobe Boxes £5 – £10 each or £30 for a Pack of 5

7. Storage Fees

Storage is something not commonly required when moving home, the only reason people usually require storage is if they’re delaying a move into the new home or they have too much stuff to fit into the new home but don’t wish to sell it. Storage is reasonably cheap if you only need it for a few weeks, however the costs soon add up when you require it for a prolonged period of time. The storage costs are generally based upon the amount of sq. foot required. A comparison of average storage costs is shown below.

A Comparison of Storage Costs
Time Needed Space Needed / Price per Week
50 sq.ft 150 sq.ft 200 sq.ft
8 weeks £10 – £15 £20 – £30 £40 – £60
3-12 months £20 – £30 £45 – £60 £70 – £100
12 months + £20 – £25 £30 – £40 £60 – £80

8. Increased Utility Bills

Increased Utility Bills

It’s not uncommon for utility bills to increase significantly when moving home. Reasons for this can include moving to a more affluent area, having to change provider, buying a less energy efficient home (if moving from a new build to an older home or vice versa) or just buying a bigger house. Before you move, you need to factor in costs of increased utility bills in because they can make all the difference between an affordable home and a non-affordable home. Common increases include:

  • Council Tax – Make sure you check your new council tax band with your local authority before you move
  • Electricity
  • Gas – The boiler may not be energy efficient, occasionally you may even need to factor in the cost of a replacement boiler
  • Water – Particularly if you’re moving from a home using a water meter (usually cheaper) to a home without a water meter
  • Insurance – This includes both house and car insurance, as some areas will demand higher premiums than others.

9. Unexpected Improvement and Maintenance Costs

Finally, there are the unexpected costs to moving house, these include the costs around decluttering the old house and the new house, renovation and improvement, and the unexpected costs when things go wrong.

Decluttering can be costly and when you move house you will be expected to completely clear your old house before you leave, this includes any sheds or loft spaces. Failure to clear these spaces can result in additional charges being made by the prospective buyer’s solicitor. Decluttering comes with it’s own costs, including the need to hire a skip which can cost between £60 and £600, depending on the size and type of skip you need.

Moving into the new house also comes with additional costs and it’s important to take these into account before you sign on the dotted line. Does the house you’re moving to need a new kitchen, or perhaps a new bathroom? These might not be costs you’ll incur straight away but the cost of a new kitchen or the cost of a new bathroom may need to be accounted for in your long term financial planning, so that you don’t end up in a house with a mortgage so big that you’re unable to afford to do those additional jobs that you didn’t factor for.

You also need to make sure you have a budget for those things which you didn’t expect. Common ones being electrical or plumbing faults which are hard to assess superficially when viewing a house. Both of these areas can generate costly jobs which require fairly urgent attention. For example, a full house rewire can cost up to £5000 +.

The Cost of Moving House, In Conclusion

The cost of moving house can run into 10’s of thousands once you add up all of the costs discussed above. It’s really important that you weigh up whether the cost of moving house outweighs the cost of improving our home, as people are often happy where they are but require more space for their growing family. Moving is often assumed to be the answer, but once the costs are added up it can soon become apparent that staying put and extended is the best option.

We hope that you’ve found this article useful, if you think there are any additional costs we have missed then please feel free to comment below.

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