Moving costs reach record highs, led by rise in stamp duty

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The average cost of buying and selling home in the UK has reached a record high at £10,414 or £24,585 in London, new research has found, a rise of 2% year on year.

It is higher stamp duty payments, up 4%, and larger conveyancing fees, up 5%, that are driving the cost of moving home, according to the annual study from ReallyMoving.

The research also shows that the costs for first time buyers have also risen, up by 2% year on year to £1,613.

Stamp duty now makes up some 44% of the total cost of a home move, rising to 65% in London. Those buying and selling, now pay on average £4,625 in stamp duty, based on the median property value, while conveyancing costs stand at £1,490.

Although varying significantly depending on the distance of the move and the volume of possessions transported, removals charges have also increased by 1% over the last year to £480 on average.

The cost of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) remains unchanged at £55, but other expenses have dipped slightly over the last year, such as a Homebuyers Report which now costs £408, a fall of 4%, and estate agent fees at £3,356 are down 1% as suppliers compete for business in a contracted market that has seen transaction levels fall 12.4% year on year.

Movers in London face the greatest cost of moving, with the upfront costs associated with buying and selling a home in the capital now at £24,585, almost 2.5 times the UK average.

With property prices in London following a downward trajectory in 2019, home owners are finding it harder to fund a move through growth in equity, therefore the high cost of moving is becoming increasingly prohibitive, the report says.

The South East, East and South West are among the most expensive regions for movers, with the East and West Midlands sitting in the centre of the table and Northern Ireland and the North East the least expensive locations as a result of lower house prices, enabling greater fluidity in the housing market.

Moving costs for first time buyers across the UK are considerably lower at an average of £1,613, due to the exemption of stamp duty for first time buyers on properties up the value of £300,000.

A 2% annual increase in overall costs has been driven mainly by marginal rises in removals and conveyancing fees. Yet higher house prices in London mean that first time buyers in the capital are typically paying £3,750 in stamp duty, bringing their overall costs to £5,684, some 3.5 times the UK average.

‘Home owners are having to dig deeper than ever before to fund a home move, with upfront costs reaching another record high in 2019,’ said Rob Houghton, chief executive officer of ReallyMoving.

‘Stamp duty charges may be fixed, but it is possible to make savings on other costs such as conveyancing, surveys and removals by shopping around online for the best deals and comparing ratings and reviews, as well as price,’ he added.

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