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UK cost of moving reaches record high

  1. 15 December 2017
  2. By Rob Houghton

The cost of moving house has never been more expensive. Even when adjusted for inflation, the average cost of moving in 2017 is the highest it’s been since 2010 (£7,381) – and marks the third consecutive year of increases.
 

44% of the total cost of moving is made up of estate agent fees, representing on average, £3,254 of the £7,356 total moving cost. With the average estate agent charging a rate of 1.2% of the house price, fee rates are at an all-time low. However, while estate agent rates might be falling, the 28% increase in average house prices means that estate agent fees remain similar in absolute terms.

This rise in house prices has also affected stamp duty, the second largest contributor to moving costs (27%). In 2017, the median property value would result in a stamp duty fee of £2,019. This is compared to £1,814 for the median property value in 2007. Due to the economic crisis in 2009, the basic stamp duty threshold was increased to £175,000, higher than the median UK house price that year. This meant that for over half the property transactions during 2009, no stamp duty was paid, significantly reducing the average cost of moving.  With the recent increase in property prices, stamp duty fees have risen significantly. While the Chancellor did go some way to rectify the problem for first time buyers, cutting the lower thresholds of stamp duty in the recent Budget, this will affect a relatively small portion of the market.
 
Table 1 - Change in cost of moving 2007 vs. 2017
  2007 2017 % change
Conveyancing Disbursements & Expenses Sale £48 £74 54%
Conveyancing Disbursements & Expenses Purchase £245 £336 37%
Conveyancing Fees Sale £264 £376 42%
Conveyancing Fees Purchase £264 £363 38%
Survey – Homebuyer Report £347 £399 15%
Removals £470 £480 2%
EPC £116 £55 -53%
Stamp Duty £1,814 £2,019 11%
Estate Agent Fees £3,117 £3,254 4%
Total Cost of Moving £6,685 £7,356 10%
Median House Price £181,364 £225,956 25%
Inflation – Consumer Price Index (CPI) with 2007 as base 29%

Figure 1 - Inflation adjusted cost of moving


NB “Conv D&E” = conveyancing disbursements & expenses.  All costs in 2017 terms and based on UK median property values.

Rob Houghton, CEO of reallymoving.com said: “Increases in fees for services and in particular for stamp duty has seen a rise in the total cost of moving, to the point where a single move costs nearly a third of the median annual salary. While there is no simple fix, there are a number of measures that consumers can take to manage the condition. Buyers can reduce the cost by shopping around, using well-priced and well-reviewed conveyancers, surveyors, removers, and estate agents.”

While stamp duty and estate agent fees make up the majority of costs, other, less prominent expenses, can equate to a large proportion of overall moving costs when they are combined. 
Removal costs – the third most significant expense – can vary dramatically, depending on the distance of the move and the volume of possessions transported. With the national average currently at £380, these prices have not changed dramatically over the last decade. 

The typical cost of a HomeBuyer Report is £400, which is similar to the price it was a decade ago. This is good news for consumers as with survey providers competing for business, shopping around can prove an easy way to decrease moving costs.   

Moving costs: the north-south divide
There is a distinct north-south divide in the cost of moving, driven almost entirely by the differentials in property prices across the UK. Moving costs exceed the UK average in London, South West England, South East, East of England and the Home Counties. In every other region of the UK – including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – moving costs are below the national average. 
In London, this disparity is at its most extreme. At £23,913, moving house in London is more than three times as expensive as the UK average (£7,356).

Rob Houghton said: “At three times the national average, the costs associated with moving house in London is a huge barrier to property market liquidity. Other than a huge relaxation in planning rules to see an acceleration of the rate of new house builds, which we don’t expect to see, it’s inevitable that moving costs will remain high. But at least it’s getting easier all the time to search online for quotes and reviews of all moving services.” 


 
 

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