A home buying cost checklist

When buying a home, there are a lot of fees and hidden expenses to factor in. Set yourself up with a healthy budget to ensure you cover all your outgoing costs.

Purchasing a property is exciting, no matter what stage of the home buying journey you’re on, but it’s also very costly. Aside from the property’s purchase price, there are several expenses you need to factor in that will have a significant impact on your budget. Fees vary widely, depending on the cost, size and location of the property and the type of home loan you take out. But don’t get caught out; know what your upfront costs are so that you can include them in your overall budget.

For example, a property that costs $800,000 in New South Wales with a 10 per cent deposit, you will be looking at the following costs:

Lenders Mortgage Insurance$17,784

Conveyancing and legal fees$1800

Stamp duty $31,490

Building and pest inspections$800

Mortgage registration fee $141.60

Transfer fee $141.60

Loan application fee $600

TOTAL COST $52,757.20

The fees stated above are indicative only and vary state by state.


You will need to have a deposit for your home loan. The standard amount a lender is looking for is 20 per cent of the final purchase price, but you can have as little as 5 per cent. If your deposit is less than 20 per cent, you will have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance.

Lenders Mortgage Insurance.

The banks will require you to take out Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) if you have less than 20 per cent deposit. LMI isn’t a set fee, what you will end up paying is affected by the size of the loan, your deposit, whether the property is a primary residence or an investment, your employment status, and the insurer used by the lender.

Conveyancing and legal fees

Several legal documents are exchanged during the purchase of a property, and it is best to have a professional manage this, safeguarding you against potential issues later on down the track. You can engage either a conveyancer or a solicitor. The difference between the two is that a conveyancer is limited in their services – preparing documents and only giving legal advice on property transactions, and for this reason, they are a more affordable option. A solicitor, on the other hand, can do everything a conveyancer does with the added benefit of being able to provide broader legal advice, but this comes at a higher price.

Stamp duty

Stamp duty is a one-off state tax on all property purchases. The amount you pay varies significantly as it’s based on the property price, location and type of home loan you have. Some states have first home buyer exemptions, so it’s worth talking to your lender about what is available to you. To get a gauge on current rates, you can access mortgage calculators online or discuss with your lender.

Building and pest inspections

Building and pest inspections report on the condition of the property. They provide detailed information about existing and potential problems, such as cracks in walls, mould, dampness, rust, leaks and damage. Learning about the condition of the property will guide your purchasing decision, save you money in the long-run and help you when it comes to negotiating the final sale price. Only get inspections done on a property you are very keen on as multiple reports add up quickly. The cost of the reports is based on the size of the property, if you need one or two reports and how detailed you want them.

Mortgage registration fee

The mortgage registration fee is charged by the State Government, and it registers the security for a home loan, which allows future buyers to check any claims that exist on the property. The fee is paid when a home loan is established or when it’s discharged. The cost varies state by state, but as an indication, it is as low as $116.80 in Victoria and as high as $187 in Queensland.

Transfer fee

Lenders charge a transfer fee which is the cost of transferring the property into your ownership. Again, this fee varies quite considerably, depending on which state you’re purchasing the property in. In New South Wales it is a flat fee of $141.60 while in other states like Queensland it will be over $1000, depending on the purchase price.

Loan application fee

The Loan Application fee is a fee for processing an application for a loan. This is also known as establishment fees, up-front fees, start-up fees or set-up fees.

Council and utility rates

At settlement, you will need to pay a rates adjustment to cover council rates and body corporate (strata) fees. This cost varies depending on the property you purchased and at what time of year. Your conveyancer or solicitor can give you an indication of how much this will be.

Other costs to factor in

Although not an initial cost in the home buying fee checklist, you will also need to factor in removalists, cleaners and home and content insurance into your budget.

It may seem overwhelming, but going in prepared with a healthy budget that will cover all outgoing expenses will make the process that much easier.

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