Costs of Buying a House - A First-Time Buyer's Guide

RAH Blog
This is a block of text. Double-click this text to edit it.
19 June 2023
by Oliver Hughes

As a first-time homebuyer, getting caught up in the excitement of finding your dream home is easy. However, it's crucial to take a step back and consider the financial aspects involved. Redmayne Arnold and Harris, are here to guide you through the buying process process.

Understanding the costs associated with buying a house is essential for first-time buyers. It enables you to make informed decisions and confidently embark on your homeownership journey. This comprehensive guide will delve into the various expenses you must know when purchasing your dream home. From upfront costs to long-term financial considerations, we've got you covered.

Check out our article on the best age to buy a house.

So, let's explore the hidden costs, break down the expenses, and equip you with the knowledge you need to make your first home purchase a resounding success.

Step 1: Establishing a Budget

Before embarking on your house-hunting journey, it's vital to establish a realistic budget. Here are some key factors to consider:


Typically, first-time buyers must provide a deposit, a percentage of the property's purchase price. A minimum deposit of 5-20% is generally required, although more extensive deposits can result in more favourable mortgage rates.

Stamp Duty:

Stamp duty is a tax imposed on properties sold in England and Northern Ireland. The amount varies depending on the property's value, with different thresholds and rates applied. To determine the stamp duty, you can use the UK government's calculator.

There is currently tax relief for first-time buyers. The most up-to-date details of the latest allowances can be found here.

Solicitor and Conveyancing Fees:

You will need a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the purchase. They will assist with property searches, contracts, and the transfer of ownership. Solicitor fees can vary, so obtaining quotes from several professionals is advisable.

Valuation and Survey Costs:

Mortgage lenders require a valuation survey to assess the property's value. Additionally, you may opt for a more comprehensive survey to identify any structural issues or potential problems. Survey costs depend on the type of survey you choose.

Step 2: Down Payment and Mortgage Options

Once you've established your budget, it's time to explore down payment and mortgage options. Consider the following:

Mortgage Affordability:

Lenders assess your affordability based on income, credit history, and monthly expenses. Then, they typically offer a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, indicating the percentage of the property's value they are willing to lend.

Mortgage Types:

In the UK, you can choose from various mortgage types, including fixed-rate mortgages (with a set interest rate for a specific period), variable-rate mortgages (interest rates that fluctuate with the market), or tracker mortgages (tied to the Bank of England's base rate).

Mortgage Fees:

Mortgages often come with associated fees, such as arrangement, valuation, and legal fees. It's essential to consider these costs when comparing mortgage options.

Step 3: Closing Costs and Other Fees

As you approach the final stages of buying a house, it's essential to be aware of the closing costs and additional fees that may arise:

Mortgage Arrangement Fees:

Lenders may charge an arrangement fee for setting up your mortgage. These fees vary between lenders, so comparing and considering the costs is crucial.

Land Registry Fees:

When transferring property ownership, you must pay a fee to the Land Registry. The cost depends on the property's value and can be found on the UK government's website.

Removal Costs and Insurance:

Don't forget to budget for removal costs, whether hiring a professional moving company or conducting the move yourself. Additionally, consider home insurance to protect your new investment.

Step 4: Ongoing Expenses and Maintenance

Council Tax:

One crucial ongoing expense to consider is council tax. The amount you pay depends on the valuation band of your property and varies from one local authority to another. Therefore, researching the council tax rates in your desired area is essential to factor this into your budget.

Utility Bills:

As a homeowner, you'll be responsible for paying utility bills, including gas, electricity, water, and potentially other services like broadband. Remember to compare providers and consider energy-efficient measures to minimise your costs in the long run.


Protecting your investment is paramount, so obtaining adequate insurance coverage is vital. Building insurance and contents insurance are two types to consider. Building insurance covers the structure of your property, while contents insurance protects your belongings. Shop around for the best policies that suit your needs.

Maintenance and Repairs:

Homes require regular maintenance to stay in good condition. From minor repairs to major renovations, setting aside a budget for ongoing maintenance is essential. Consider general upkeep, gardening, painting, and potentially more significant expenses like roof repairs or boiler servicing. Being proactive can save you money in the long term by avoiding more extensive, costly repairs.

Step 5: Additional Considerations

Ground Rent and Service Charges:

If you're buying a leasehold property, you must consider ground rent and service charges. Ground rent is the fee paid to the landlord, while service charges cover communal areas and maintenance costs. Review the lease agreement carefully to understand these costs and any potential increases over time.

Homeowner Association Fees:

Homeowner association fees may apply in some areas, especially with shared ownership or gated communities. These fees contribute to the upkeep of shared spaces, amenities, and services. Research any homeowner association's specific costs and regulations that may apply to your desired property.

Future Market Conditions:

While nobody can predict the future, keeping an eye on the property market is crucial. Changes in interest rates, housing prices, and government policies can all impact your financial situation. So stay informed about market trends and consult experts to make well-informed decisions.

Buying a house involves more than just the purchase price. As a first-time buyer, understanding the costs involved will help you plan your finances effectively. Some of the expenses you should consider include legal fees, mortgage fees, stamp duty, survey costs, and home insurance. You should also account for ongoing expenses such as maintenance, utility, and council taxes.

With careful planning and financial prudence, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your homeownership journey.

Share this article
RAH Newsletter



Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest property and industry news direct to your inbox.
magnifierarrow-leftarrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram