Buying a house: the upfront costs

Buying a house: the upfront costs

Buying your first home? You’ll need more than a deposit. Here is a list of other upfront costs, including stamp duty and legal fees.

There’s no way around it – getting your deposit together is tough work. Then, once you’ve finally saved enough, you’re hit with an array of other upfront costs. Here are 10 costs you need to factor in (apart from your deposit).

Stamp duty

Outside the deposit, this’ll be your biggest upfront cost. Stamp duty varies greatly from state to territory to state and the rules (and exemptions) can seem complicated.

Check out the government websites of your state or territory. But be warned: the various schemes change almost yearly so you’ll need to check and double check.

As of October 2014, if you’re a first homebuyer buying a $400,000 home, your stamp duty will range from nothing (Queensland and West Australia) to approximately $16,330 in South Australia. But many first homebuyers qualify for grants and exemptions.

Use our Stamp Duty Calculator to estimate stamp duty in your state or territory.

Transfer fee

This is a fee levied by state governments to cover the cost of transferring the title. Again, there’s a huge disparity between states and territories. In the Northern Territory, for instance, the transfer fee is just $137 (on a $400,000 home). In South Australia, it’s $2901.

Mortgage registration fee

Another one of those state/territory fees, though thankfully it’s not a biggie. On that $400,000 house, the cost ranges between $107 (NSW) and $189 (Northern Territory).

Legal and conveyance fees

These fees are for a licensed conveyancer to review your contract, perform checks on the title, and draft the settlement documents. They basically do the paperwork. Depending on complexity, it’ll cost between $700 and $2500. Learn more at the Australian Institute of Conveyancers’ website , opens in new window .

Mortgage application fees

These are the fees your bank charges to set up your mortgage. Most banks charge additional fees (mortgage registration, loan service fee etc.) so ask them to itemise everything. Also ask if they offer reduced-fee deals or packages.

Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance

If you get a 20% deposit together, you usually won’t need Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance. But homebuyers with a smaller deposit will. This is a one-off fee equivalent to between 1 and 3% of your loan amount.

Inspection fees

A thorough building inspection is essential. You might be tempted to skip a pest inspection, but the average termite colony costs $7000 to remove.

Home, building and contents insurance

If you have a mortgage, building insurance is compulsory. Premiums vary sharply by state/territory, but budget around $1000 a year for home insurance (on a $400,000 house), and an average of $500 for contents.

Moving charges

These can vary massively depending on how much stuff you have, and how far you’re moving. Some estimates could be between $550 and $3500. It’s a good idea to shop around and get at least 3 quotes.

Connecting gas, electricity and telecommunications

Try and negotiate with the vendor so the power stays on and you’re not hit with reconnection fees.

How much all up?

Your Mortgage website , opens in new window estimates upfront costs to be between 7 and 11% of the purchase price. On a $400,000 home, that’s $30,000-plus on top of the deposit.

It can be pretty daunting for first homebuyers, but remember the First Home Owner Grant may assist with stamp duty costs. See if your eligible to purchase your first home with a deposit of as little as 5% with the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

We know that the home loan process can be daunting. You can dip your toes in the water with our ‘choosing the right home loan tool’ – It’s a great way to browse our loans and see what they could cost. When the time comes, don’t feel like you have to do it on your own. Call us on 13 78 79, visit your local branch, make an appointment with a mobile banker or, if you’re ready, feel free to apply online.