Hidden costs when buying a house

Beyond the initial purchase price, there are several costs that have the potential to catch buyers by surprise. Here are a few to look out for:

Transfer fee
The transfer fee or transfer duty rate, for example, is a cost that’s fixed by the state government. The actual cost of this fee can vary greatly and will be influenced by state regulations and the purchase price. It facilitates the official transition of the property’s title from the vendor (seller) to you (buyer). This fee is non-negotiable when buying a property as it ensures the new ownership is properly recorded and legally recognised. There is an online calculator available on the Titles Queensland website to assist you in calculating the fee.

Mortgage registration fee
The mortgage registration fee is directed towards registering your mortgage with the state government. In other words, it cements your legal claim to the property. The purpose of a mortgage registration fee is to ensure the property is held as security against the loan you’re acquiring. The mortgage fee is a flat registration fee – in Queensland this is currently $224.32.

Loan application fees
Unless you are able to purchase the home outright with your own cash savings, you’ll need to apply for a home loan to fund your property purchase. In most cases, this will involve a loan application fee. This home loan fee is charged by lenders to cover the administrative costs of processing your application. The specific price will depend on whether you go with a traditional lender (i.e. bank) or alternative lender, and can stretch from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars. While it’s an additional upfront cost, it’s a necessary one to initiate the financing process and secure your dream home.

Ongoing costs
Ongoing loan fees cover things like account-keeping fees, annual charges and service fees – all of which are required as part of your long-term financial commitment to property ownership. Over the life of the loan these fees can add up, which may affect the overall cost of the mortgage and influence your decision to buy in the first place. Be mindful of these recurring expenses in order to manage your budget effectively.

Lenders mortgage insurance (LMI)
If your deposit falls short of the 20 per cent mark (e.g. $130,000 for an $800,000 home), then lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) will usually be mandatory. This insurance is designed to protect the lender in the event you default on the loan. The cost of LMI hinges on variables such as the amount you’ve borrowed and the size of your deposit. Be aware that it’s a necessary financial safeguard, but it can add a substantial amount to how much you end up paying for the property.

Conveyancing and legal fees
Because it’s an intricate legal task, you’ll want a professional – such as a solicitor or dedicated conveyancer. Because the amount you’ll end up paying in legal fees will depend on the complexity of the transaction and who you decide to hire, it’s recommended that you get multiple quotes about all the potential legal fees you’ll be on the hook for in order to make the most informed decision.

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