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Time to make a move? UK moving costs surge in 2016

Thinking of moving to another home? Before you get whisked away in the search for your next abode, you might want to sit down for a moment and consider that the average cost of changing properties in the UK has risen to £11,000 in 2016. That’s around a third of the average salary. What is more, research from Lloyds Banking Group shows that changing properties in London is even costlier: £31,400. This brief report from Property Division synthesises crucial information on what’s happened to UK moving costs in the past year.

The average cost of changing places has risen 9% from 2015, when it was £10,126. For Londoners, the increase over 12 months was double the national average at 18% from £26,684 a year ago. Both of those increases are well above the rate of inflation and earnings, although they are broadly in line with house price inflation.

“The cost of moving [to another] home has risen to a point where it has to be a serious part of movers’ financial calculations”, says Newington Green estate agent M&M Property. “For Londoners in particular, moving costs need to be part of any budget from the beginning”.

Those increases in costs mean that — across the nation — the total cost of moving is now 32% of gross annual earnings, up from 30% in 2015. In the capital, meanwhile, the cost of moving has — in one decade — jumped to from 46% to 72% of gross annual earnings.

Unfortunately for buyers, the cost of moving is intrinsically linked to property prices, with a number of fees being linked to the final sale price. Looking back over a ten-year period, the cost of moving has risen 25% on a national basis and 68% for Londoners.

“The rise in house prices explains much of the reason for the steep increase in … moving costs, which also means it’s another cost that first-time buyers have to save hard to afford”, contends Belgravia estate agent Best Gapp.

Lloyds’ survey breaks down which elements of moving have risen the most and least. Stamp duty, estate agency and conveyancing fees witnessed the greatest increases over the past year. Surveyors’ fee, home removal and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) costs, meanwhile, have gone virtually unchanged since 2015.

By highlighting the high costs associated with moving, the survey results show just how expensive it is for current home-owners to make the next step up the housing ladder or move to a different part of the country.

“Not only are house prices moving further out of the financial reach of everyday Britons, the actual cost of moving to another home that better suits a person’s or family’s circumstances is … in danger of doing the same”, states Wimbledon estate agent Robert Holmes.

It’s not just costs for home-buyers that are rising and making buying and moving to a home a more expensive and unachievable endeavour. Small and medium-sized UK builders have highlighted a lack of suitable land and accessible planning departments as two major barriers to them increasing their construction output.

A separate survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) pinpoints a “lack of available and viable land” as the most significant problem for two-thirds of SME builders in 2016.

“The biggest challenge facing SME house builders [and] the primary cause of unnecessary delays is the planning process”, says Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, in the group’s annual House Builders survey, “with the under-resourcing of planning departments” being the greatest concern.

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