£6,200: Cost of moving house goes through roof

Homebuyers in Scotland enjoy relatively low moving costs. Picture: Jane Barlow

Homebuyers in Scotland enjoy relatively low moving costs. Picture: Jane Barlow

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Surging stamp duty costs have helped push the average expense of moving home in Scotland to £6,219, a report has found.

Collectively, UK home owners spent £6.6 billion on moving home last year, marking a 27 per cent year-on-year increase on 2012 as a result of increased moving costs and growing numbers of house sales as the property market recovers, according to the research by Lloyds Bank.

Lloyds said rising house prices have pushed more property sales into higher stamp duty brackets. It said stamp duty costs, estate agency fees and legal fees have all grown by around 7 per cent over the past year, while surveyors’ fees and removal costs have remained broadly unchanged.

The average spend across the UK as a whole on stamp duty and estate agency fees now stands at £2,001 and £3,601 respectively, the report found.

Higher house prices in London and the South East mean the cost of moving there is around double the UK average, at £20,825 and £16,187 respectively.

Lloyds said the average home mover in London pays £10,850 in stamp duty costs and £6,510 in estate agency fees and the cost of moving equates to nearly (47 per cent) of the average wage in the the city. In Wales the average moving cost is is £7,395.

Northern Ireland was named as the most affordable place to move, where the average cost is £4,253, or 15 per cent of average earnings there. Across the UK, the cost of moving is around 25 per cent of average earnings.

House prices in Northern Ireland are recovering from the financial crisis at a slower rate than those in many other parts of the UK, which means people there are less likely to be faced with stamp duty costs.

Marc Page, Lloyds Bank mortgages director, said: “Rising house prices have had an impact with more property sales now within higher stamp duty 
brackets.

“On top of the costs of moving, home movers also need to consider the costs involved with changing mortgages, such as product and administration fees.”

Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics show house prices have leapt 9.1 per cent year-on-year to a new average high of £253,000.

Critics of the “slab structure” of stamp duty argue that it distorts the market. Sales of homes are free of stamp duty up to the value of £125,000 and attract a 
1 per cent tax above this level and up to £250,000.

Rising house prices mean that more buyers face paying at the higher rates of 3 per cent applied to homes worth over £250,000 to £500,000, 4 per cent on those valued at over £500,000 up to £1 million, 5 per cent on those over £1 million to £2 million and 7 per cent beyond that point.

Stamp duty is imposed on the total value of the property rather than just the portion of the price which is above the threshold. This means families buying a home for between £250,000 and £500,000 pay between £7,500 and £15,000.

A report published by the TaxPayers’ Alliance last year estimated that three in ten homes will have moved up into another stamp duty bracket in five years’ time.

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