We've put together our top 10 questions to ask when buying a flat, to help you avoid any mistakes and save you money.
Don't leap into the unknown and get stuck with a very costly purchase!
Find Out How Long The Lease Is
A majority of leases are for a period of 99 to 125 years, sometimes you even see 999 year leases! As always, the longer the better.
If the lease is below 75 years old then it is a problem, and we would suggest generally avoiding these properties.
This is due to the issues it will create when trying to lend money, such as the mortgage. Even if you're not obtaining a mortgage it will cause issues when you sell the property as the price will be badly affected by the short lease.
We recommend eight plus years on any lease.
How Much Is The Ground Rent?
This is the money you will be paying to the freeholder, who is the owner of the land where your property sits (this fee is due annually).
Ground rent is commonly about £50 but this set by the freeholder and can be set at any figure they want. Luckily this is fixed by the terms of the lease.
If the ground rent is more than £200 a year it could have a negative affect on the future selling price, so keep your eye out!
Will The Maintenance Be Costly?
This will vary from property to property. This is dependent on various factors will I will get on to in a few points. You have to get the balance right as expensive maintenance isn't good for, obviously money reasons while cheap is bad for your property as it means repairs will rarely been done, if at all!
We'll provide a little example to give you context. Normally a two bedroom flat with an elevator but without water supplies and heating would cost around the £1,500 a year region.
If you encounter a property that is similar and the prices are vastly different then you need to enquire into why.
Does The Flat Have A Lift?
Useful if you're living on the 15th floor of the building, but not much use if you live on the 1st floor. Why is this important? Well you're going to have to chip in for repairs and insurance. Everyone in the building is liable to pay a portion each.
A lift will add hundreds of pounds a year to your maintenance upkeep so you should decide if it will be of use to you.
Does The Building Have A Flat Roof?
If the property is leasehold everyone in the block has to put into the kitty and pay towards all repairs. General research puts the average life span of flat roofs at around 15 years old.
Before buying, find out when the flat roof was last worked on and be prepaired to paid for further works 15 years on!
What Managing Agent Owns The Flat Block?
Don't commit before finding out the reputation of the managing agent. Thankfully this is pretty easy to find out. Just Google their name and see if any negative reviews or press releases pop up.
As you would if you was renting with a landlord, you want a good relationship to be happy in your home.
Who Is The Freeholder?
As covered in point 6 you should Google the freeholder and see what reputation they have. As said before, if it's bad, avoid!
Buying A Flat With Pets
Buying a flat where pets are allowed can happen with the freeholders permission (which you will need in writing). Remember even if you get permission they can revoke this if your pet is a nuisance.
If you don't have a pet, we would suggest checking if other residents have a pet. You don't want to move into a block of flats where dogs are barking all times of the night.
This is a side pot of money that residents of the block all put into to cover the maintenance of their building, such as lift repairs and flat roof repairs.
This fund should be substantial so it can cover any expense should it arise.
Walls And Sound Pollution
This might not always be applicable as more modern blocks are sound proofed to a high standard as this is now standard building regulations. The issue is with older blocks, the sound proofing might be lacking serverly.
This could really effect your chances of selling the property when the time comes as this is a major turn off.
We hope these 10 tips help you out when looking to buy a flat. Remember your solicitor will be there to help you with these queries.
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