The complete guide to buying a house in 2024
Find out everything you need to know about the process of buying a house.
How to buy a house
Buying a house timeline
How long it takes to buy a home, from property search to completion, can vary from a few months to as long as a year or more. Here’s a breakdown of the timescales you might expect:
You should have bank statements for the previous 3 months of your current account. This is to show your income and outgoings.
Many people use banking apps and online banking, but you should still be able to download and print the relevant statements.
The cost of buying a house
Buying a home comes with many additional costs and fees you must budget for. Here’s a breakdown of all the costs you should be aware of:
The fees solicitors charge can range from £750 to £1,500, depending on where in the country you’re buying and how much work is involved.
You also need to include disbursements, which can make the cost much higher. Common disbursements include:
Bankruptcy search - £2 to £4 per person taking out the mortgage
Land Registry office copies - £4 to £8
Electronic ID verification - £2 to £18 per person taking out the mortgage
Local authority searches - £100 to £200
Water and drainage search - £30 to £40
Environmental search - £30 to £35
Telegraphic transfer fee - £25 to £45
Mortgage handling fee - £60 to £80
HMLR final search - £3 to £7
Land Registry Charge - £20 to £910
You'll need to pay the fees to your solicitor, and it covers handling all the legal parts of the completion. The price also includes their time, registrations, and costs from start to finish.
You usually have to pay for local searches upfront. You'll pay this throughout the process as and when you're charged.
There are several fees you could face when taking out your mortgage. These include:
Arrangement fee: This is sometimes called a ‘product fee’ and is what you pay the lender for setting up the mortgage. These can cost around £1,000 but vary depending on the product and the lender.
Application fee: Also known as a ‘booking fee’, this is charged while your application goes through. It won’t be refunded if you choose not to take the mortgage out.
Valuation fee: This covers the cost of the lender’s survey on the property you want to buy. The cost of the fee varies, and some lenders do not charge a valuation fee at all.
Once you have started paying your mortgage, there are other charges you could face, like:
Missed payment fees: Some lenders might charge a fee if your account is in arrears. The penalty depends on each lender’s rules.
Early repayment charges: This might not always apply. Check the rules with each mortgage provider, especially if you want to make early repayments. Often, the charges range from 1 to 5% of the value of the early repayment.
Exit or closure fees: This is a fee you may need to pay your lender when you pay off your mortgage, even if you’re not repaying it early. This administration fee to pay for the closure of the mortgage can cost between £75 and £300.
Stamp duty land tax (SDTL) is a tax you might have to pay when you buy a property in England or Northern Ireland.
You pay stamp duty on properties that cost more than £250,000 unless you’re a first-time buyer. If you are a first-time buyer, you don’t pay stamp duty on properties up to £425,000 and a lower rate on properties up to £625,000.
Use our stamp duty calculator to help you work out how much stamp duty you might need to pay.
Buying a house FAQs
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Important info & marketing claims
You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage. Your savings will depend on personal circumstances.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
*The savings figure of £506 is based on Better.co.uk remortgage customers in December 2023. Read more on our marketing claims page.
We can't always guarantee we will be able to help you with your mortgage application depending on your credit history and circumstances.
Average mortgage decision and approval times are based on Better.co.uk's historic data for lenders we submit applications to.
Tracker rates are identified after comparing over 12,000 mortgage products from over 100 mortgage lenders.
As of January 2023, Better.co.uk has access to over 100 lenders. This number is subject to change.
For buy-to-let landlords, there's no guarantee that it will be possible to arrange continuous letting of a property, nor that rental income will be sufficient to meet the cost of the mortgage.