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Buying Flat

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  • Buying Flat

    I am moving out of my house on Thursday and will rent while I look for a flat to buy.

    I am downsizing and also will be glad not to have to maintain the big gardens.
    I wont need a mortgage, don't smoke and don't have any pets.

    I googled buying a flat in the UK and there seems to be quite a bit more to consider, mainly to do with the lease, apparently I should not consider a flat with a lease less than 75 years, is that true even if I don't need a mortgage?

    I understand when buying a flat there are extra searches I need to ask the solicitor to do.
    Like are there any special or restrictive covenants and regulations.
    Check the last few years maintenance bills, check for high administration costs and bogus bills.

    Beware ofr bargain apartments in buildings requiring a lot of maintenance work or refurbishment.

    Avoid buying in a building where many of the flats are rented.

    These are things that never occured to me and it has got me quite worried that i will make a mistake and regret my decision, maybe I should rent and not buy as I do not have any family or anyone to leave my property to when I die.

  • #2
    Re: Buying Flat

    If a leasehold scheme is well-managed, the residents benefit from living in nicely-maintained homes amid pleasant surroundings without having to lift a finger themselves to achieve that standard. This can be quite appealing to some. And then, of course, there are the leasehold schemes from hell....

    The question - which you have neatly identified, Linda - is how to tell the difference before you buy in but as you are renting first, this gives you time to look around and do your research first. If it is of any help to you, these are the things I would do:

    Look carefully at the communal areas (entrances, stairwells, gardens, parking and bin areas). Are they well-maintained? If so, the management company is likely to be well-run and the neighbours a considerate bunch. If the communal areas are unkempt or dirty or in sore need of repair or redecoration, what does that say about the management company's attention to less-visible maintenance such as windows, roofs, loft spaces, fire alarm systems, etc. And what does it say about the neighbours?

    Knock on a few doors and ask the residents whether requests for repairs are attended to promptly, whether the managing agents regularly visit the scheme, and whether residents feel that they have a say in planned or future expenditure.

    If you like what you see and hear and decide to proceed with an offer, choose a solicitor who is knowledgeable about leasehold law and about covenants. Also, look at the Leasehold Advisory Service's website.

    ....Or you could just buy a small freehold property instead...

    Either way, good luck with the move and with your plans.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Buying Flat

      Look carefully at the communal areas (entrances, stairwells, gardens, parking and bin areas). Are they well-maintained? If so, the management company is likely to be well-run and the neighbours a considerate bunch. If the communal areas are unkempt or dirty or in sore need of repair or redecoration, what does that say about the management company's attention to less-visible maintenance such as windows, roofs, loft spaces, fire alarm systems, etc. And what does it say about the neighbours?

      Knock on a few doors and ask the residents whether requests for repairs are attended to promptly, whether the managing agents regularly visit the scheme, and whether residents feel that they have a say in planned or future expenditure.

      If you like what you see and hear and decide to proceed with an offer, choose a solicitor who is knowledgeable about leasehold law and about covenants.
      This is very sensible advice. Also, particularly with small blocks, the personalities of the people concerned can be quite important. If someone is not complying with their obligations in the lease - freeholder/landlord or another lessee - it can be quite expensive to go to court over the issue, so don't imagine that just because you might have a theoretical legal remedy, it will always be possible in practice to use it!

      Also, when knocking on doors, ask about the neighbours!
      RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
      As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Buying Flat

        Thank-you both for the replies.

        I did think about knocking and speaking to the neighbours but was wondering how they would take it.

        I did not know which solicitor/conveyancer to choose but a friend has recommended one that she has used many times when moving home.
        I will ask if she is experienced reagrding leasehold law and covenants.

        Would you agree that 75 years remaining on the lease is the minimum I should accept when looking to buy?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Buying Flat

          This is only a layman's opinion, Linda, but definitely! A reasonable vendor would expect no less because it would be very difficult to obtain a mortgage with fewer years to run. I realise that you don't need a mortgage but think of it this way....if you were to buy a flat with a shorter lease than that, what would happen if some years on, you decided to sell after all? You would then be faced with the trouble and expense of getting the lease extended in order to make your flat saleable.

          In your place, I would make it an absolute condition of sale but in any case, your chosen solicitor would be able to give you the best advice about this. Good luck.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Buying Flat

            When you want a lease extension, the statutory formula for calculating the amount you have to pay allows the landlord to include "marriage value" (which significantly increases the figure) when the lease is below 80 years and as you are only entitled to such a statutory extension after you have owned the flat for 2 years the best advice is to go for at least 82 clear years.
            RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
            As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Buying Flat

              Thank-you both for the replies.

              The sale completed and the next day I was out looking at some flats.

              Still a few more to view but I do like two I have seen.

              Good position, nice view, garage and parking but the lease was 99 years in 1962.
              The lease will need renewing on both the ones I am interested in so I will contact a solicitor who apparently has knowlegde of that particular building to see whether I should insist that the current owner sorts the lease out before I leave a deposit or if i can make an offer lower than the asking price to allow for the cost of the lease (apparently £12,000) and apply for the lease myself.

              The flat needs a lot of updating but I was invited in by the new next door neighbours who are having work done on thiers, double glazing, combi boiler, rewiring, and new balcony railings withglass and the improvement is marked.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Buying Flat

                Always insist that the seller sorts out lease extension out of sale proceeds and the two are done together. The seller will always want to minimise the hassle and cost involved in such an extension. Estate agents will say it is easy and will only cost about £x,xxx. Your reply is that if it is that easy why can;'t seller do it? If they say he hasn't got time your reply is that if it is as easy as agents say it won't take long will it?

                If seller won't do it you have to suspect it won't be as easy as is suggested. Also remember you don't want to wait 2 yaers to be entitle to an extension under the law and if the seller offers to serve the notices on the freeholder and assign his rights to you , you still don't know what it will cost you in the end.
                RICHARD WEBSTERwww.rwco.co.uk
                As a conveyancing solicitor I want to be helpful (England/Wales only) but can't accept liability for this.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Buying Flat

                  Many thanks for that information Richard I will follow that advice.

                  I made an offer yesterday on a vacant flat and in the details it says "the lease term will be extended by the current vendors".

                  So I will make sure the vendor gets the lease renewed with the sale proceeds as a condition of the sale.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Buying Flat

                    I hope you don't mind me updating this thread.

                    Something strange happened, I made a suggestion of the amount to offer, the agent said the property is overpriced and suggested an offer £3000 below what I suggested.
                    But when she telephoned me she had offered £2000 more than we agreed, it took me by surprise so I did not question it.

                    She had Tuesday and Wednesday off and was supposed to be telephoning me today and also finding out if the vendor had started applying for the extended lease and to see how long probate would take but I did not hear from the agent. Quite annoyed really.

                    So as there was nothing else in that area in the price bracket I was looking in I looked in a bit further afield and found a flat that would not need much work doing, I could move straight in, the lease is over 900 years and there is no probate to hold things up.

                    I made an offer which was rejected, and another one which was rejected but we came to an agreement in the end. I have to go into the estate agents tomorrow to prove I have the funds to proceed with the purchase and take in some ID.

                    The agent is finding me a solicitor.

                    I know there is more work to do than with a freehold property like checking if there are any restrictive covenants

                    Can someone please give me a rough idea of what I should be paying for a solicitor to deal with buying a leasehold flat including the searches and disbursements? The property is costing £132,000.

                    Anything else I should ask the solicitor to check?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Buying Flat

                      I just received an email with the "cost for Conveyancing for the in-house Lawyers recommended by my colleague at our branch".

                      Conveyancing £645.11
                      V.A.T £129.02
                      Total £774.13

                      Search pack £308.50
                      V.A.T £39.70
                      £348.20

                      Total £1122.33

                      Estimated additional charges.

                      Stamp Duty £1320
                      Land Registry fee £200
                      Electronic money transfer fee £42
                      Stamp duty kland tax form £66
                      Land registry searches £12

                      Grand total £2712.33

                      How does that look?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Buying Flat

                        There's a separate thread in this section of the forum (Buying Our First Home - Which Solicitor?) which you might want to look at, Linda, because it contains some good advice. I think I would be tempted to obtain an independent quote as well and then decide, but I also think that the most important factor in choosing your solicitor is not whether he or she is the cheapest (or the most expensive either!) but whether they are particularly knowledgeable about this area of property law and can give you the best possible advice.

                        Comment

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