Pros And Cons Of Buying An Apartment
Gordons Property Lawyers talk about the importance for house purchasers of understanding how your purchase will affect you in the future.
Owning a property is an investment and a way to build equity, but it also comes with responsibilities. So, are there any big differences between buying an apartment and buying a house?
Leasehold vs. Freehold
The key terms here are ‘leasehold’ and ‘freehold’. When you buy a house, the property is likely to be freehold because you own the whole property and the land it is on.
Apartments, on the other hand, are typically sold as leasehold, meaning that you have the right to live in the property for a certain number of years. This could be between 30 and 999 years depending on the property. When purchasing an apartment it’s essential to understand that you own everything within the walls of your home, but not the outside or the communal areas. A freeholder will own these parts.
The time left on the lease is of paramount importance when deciding to buy a flat, as it can significantly affect the value of the property. Mortgage lenders may not lend on leases with less than 80 years remaining, so if a buyer who needs a mortgage is prevented in this way from purchasing the property from you, it significantly reduces potential buyers and so the value can drop.
Buying a leasehold property does have one advantage: you will not be responsible for the maintenance of the communal areas of the property. In contrast, owning a freehold property means that you would be responsible for organising builders, electricians and gas engineers for those areas.
Although as a leaseholder you won’t have to arrange maintenance in communal areas, you will have to pay a service charge once a month. This can range from under £100 per month to hundreds of pounds depending on the property. Paying a service charge means you have the right to a summary showing how the charge is worked out, what it is spent on and the evidence of spending such as receipts.
You also may have to pay ground rent (for the land the property sits on), but only if the freeholder has sent you a written, formal demand for it. They can recover unpaid ground rent going back 6 years and they can ask you for this amount in one go.
Costs of buying an apartment
In general, apartments tend to be more affordable than houses, making them a popular choice for first-time buyers. Some flats may offer access to communal facilities such as a gym and gardens which could save you the money of a membership and the upkeep of a garden.
Apartments can also offer more security which means you won’t have to fork out extra costs to protect your property.
While the cost of buying an apartment may be less, as previously detailed, additional costs will come in the form of service charges and ground rent.
If you are buying an apartment, you must consider the fact it’s likely you won’t be on the ground floor and so will have to either use a lift or stairs. You will also run the risk of regularly changing neighbours, meaning you could have your dream neighbours one minute and neighbours from hell the next. Apartment walls can be thin, so you must be more careful about noise levels and run the risk of noisy neighbours.
Buying an apartment will mean less privacy than owning a house and you have a lot less freedom to make changes to the property that you own.
It’s important to consider the pros and cons of living in a flat, as what works for some may not work for others. In the end it comes down to personal preference and circumstances.
No matter whether you’re thinking of buying a property, it’s important to speak to an expert.
Whether you are buying a house, apartment, buy to let or remortgaging – we are the conveyancers for you. With dedicated case handlers and the very latest technology we are highly experienced at what we do. Contact us by calling 01628 308 380 or visit our website at https://www.gplawyers.co.uk/.