Horrifying cost of moving house is double what we expect

close up of male hand packing...
close up of male hand packing...

The average buyer spends an incredible £13,219 moving house, which is up 65% over the past ten years. What's even more worrying is that this figure is around twice the sum they originally expected - so many don't have the savings to cover the costs.

Post Office Money calculated the total cost of a move - including everything from estate agency fees and stamp duty to removals, conveyancing and solicitors' fees. The biggest cost was the estate agency fees, at £5,697. This was followed by stamp duty at £4,372, conveyancing at £1,486, removals at £1,037 and surveyors at £627.

In some parts of the country, the cost of moving is even more painful - with the average cost of a move in the South East coming to £18,710, and the average in London at £30,770.

The good news is that moving is actually around £3,000 cheaper than this time last year - largely because the average stamp duty bill has fallen from £8,166 to £4,372.

The bad news is that the cost of moving is roughly twice what we expect. The study found that those hoping to buy at some point in the next three years expect to spend just £7,496 on moving costs - which is 57% of what we actually spend right now - and a small fraction of the £17,717 that moving is expected to cost on average by 2020.

This means finding thousands of pounds, just after forking out £94,280 on the average deposit - or £48,198 on the average first-time-buyer deposit.

What can you do?

John Willcock, Head of Mortgages at Post Office Money, points out that being aware of these costs, and building them into your affordability calculations is an essential first step. He says: "Planning ahead is vital and potential homebuyers should factor these costs in early on to avoid being faced with stressful, last-minute bills."

However, it's also important to give yourself enough time in the planning process to shop around. Once you have found the right estate agent to sell your property, negotiate with them on the percentage they are proposing to take. In areas where there are plenty of agents and lots of competition, you will be able to play them off against each other and bring the commission down.

You can also consider an online estate agency offering a service for a fixed fee. If you are expecting a straightforward sale, and you live in an area in great demand, your house may sell itself, so why pay a traditional estate agent a fortune to do it?

When you are weighing up solicitors, talk to them about their fees. Many of them will have a fixed fee, which will stop costs rising, and you can shop around for the most competitive (although it's essential to check their reputation online too).

Don't leave removals to the last minute either. The prices can vary dramatically, so shop around. It's also worth doing what you can to bring the price down - perhaps by bringing all your boxes to the ground floor yourself, or moving on the least busy day of the week.

Moving house is never going to be a cheap process, but with a bit of planning, you can cut the costs to something more manageable at an incredibly expensive time of your life.

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