Back Latest News

Tips for Buying a Flat

Monday, April 17, 2017

Buying a flat instead of a house is a brilliant and affordable option for lots of people. But there are some things to consider before taking the plunge into an investment.

When you opt to buy a flat over a house, you are likely to incur service charge fees which can add up to thousands of pounds and a whole host of other problems if you don’t check out the leasehold agreement, freeholder arrangements and your neighbours. Plus if you think your investment will be your home for a few years and then give you the opportunity to rent it out you need to make sure that you will be able to do that.

Follow our top 10 tips for extra checks to make when thinking of purchasing a flat (or leasehold property) as your new home:-

1. Can you secure a mortgage on the flat?
To have access to a wide range of mortgages, the flat needs to be on the ground to fourth floor, but you will be restricted to certain mortgage lenders above that level. Some lenders won’t lend on properties above shops, others won’t lend on flats that have been converted. Finally, you will need the lease to be seventy years or more.

2. Check out the neighbours
Who is living above, below and to the side? Are they noisy? Can you hear them during the day/evening time?  Check the comings and goings late at night by visiting the area and seeing if it’s quiet or turns into a nightmare place to live.

3. What access to parking do you have?
Is the parking for cars a ‘free for all’ or do you have an allocated space? If it’s the latter, is it near your flat? Is it well lit at night? What happens if someone else is in it? Who can you complain to?

4. Who is the freeholder or company that looks after the lease?
Is it an individual, a private company or a Housing Association? How long have they owned the property? Are they in it purely for profit? How secure are their finances? Do they have any money saved for major works?

5. Are there major works to be done?
Your legal representation should look through the lease agreement for you and advise what happens financially when major works, such as roof repairs, need to be carried out.

6. Lease Terms
Check the terms of the lease carefully. How many years are left? Ideally you need 70+ years to secure a good mortgage rate.  Also check for any works required which you will be billed for eg refurbishing windows.  Your service charge doesn’t always cover ‘one off’ repairs/maintenance.

7. What are the leasehold restrictions?
All leasehold agreements normally have some restrictions on the way you live. For example, no pets; no subletting rooms/the flat, but it can be equally restrictive in that you can’t run a business from the flat or fit laminate/wooden flooring. Make sure your legal company highlights all restrictions within the lease.

8. What are the past, current and future ground rent and service charges?
Make sure that your legal company checks out the charges carefully. You don’t want to buy if the service charges and ground rent are going up substantially year after year.

9. Are the walls/floors insulated?
New flats have to meet strict sound proofing regulations between floors and walls and it’s good to find out how well insulated from a sound perspective the flat is versus the neighbours.

10. Where’s the stop cock?
Believe it or not, not all flats have their own stop cock! That’s worrying if you are on a floor below all the other flats. Other thing to check out is water and service meters. Take a step back and think of the practicality of living in the flat oncec you have fallen in love with it.

Article taken in part from

Important Information
All property sales and the financial advice that surrounds them are as unique as the people engaging in the transaction. It is important to not make a decision without seeking professional advice. If you want to sell your home and are considering redecorating before marketing, speak to one of our Property Professionals to get the best advice for presenting your home for sale before making any investment.

Contact Us
Property Search Hide
Please use the selections below to narrow down your search.
Please use the selections below to narrow down your search.
Browse Property Browser our entire property portfolio Show all properties