Choosing a specialist leasehold lawyer
Buying a Victorian flat or mansion apartment in particular is a little more complex as properties that form part of a larger property tend to be leasehold rather than freehold. This means that someone else owns the main building, and you’re purchasing the right to live in part of that building for a fixed period of time. It’s wise to consult a specialist leasehold lawyer such as Yashmin Mistry who can explain to you the implications of owning a leasehold property, and make sure the terms of your lease are acceptable. You also need to check that you are happy with shared maintenance agreements, particularly for older properties which are likely to require frequent and expensive repairs.
Do I need a survey?
Whether your property is leasehold or freehold, you should always get a survey. For brand new properties, this survey may come as standard with your purchase package, but for established properties you will have to commission your own. Your mortgage provider can arrange to do a home-buyer’s survey or a more in-depth building structural survey with their standard valuation check. For Victorian properties it is well worth getting a full structural survey done as this will cover issues such as subsidence and damp. A standard valuation report will only check the property is worth at least what the mortgage company are lending you, which is not the same as a report which will identify potentially expensive problems you need to be aware of. Do not rely on the advice of the seller’s estate agent or surveyor, as they are working for the seller and not for you.
Check the checklist!
It’s easy to be seduced by the character and space offered by Victorian properties, so please take the time to make sure that original features that have been offered by the seller and their estate agents are actually included in the sale. Your lawyer will advise you through the seller’s checklist of exactly what is included and if you have your heart set on that original fireplace, then make sure the seller has stated in writing that they are leaving it, and not replacing it with a cheaper replica.
Budget for problems
You will tend to find that older homes have a lot more maintenance issues than new homes, so look at potential problem areas and budget for them in the move. Problem areas in older homes include the roof space, guttering, the water supply pipe, and original windows. Restoring original features such as wooden sash windows can be costly, but will mean your property keeps its value longer. Check with your lawyer if your new home is listed or in a conservation area as this will affect what improvements you are allowed to make, and will affect your budget. Bear these potential problems in mind when setting your home-buying budget as failing to pay attention to maintenance issues in older homes is a false economy in the long-run. These tips from our customers might also help you examine the potential challenges your property might throw at you.
Above all, make sure your lawyer works for you and is aware of the issues involved with buying a Victorian flat or mansion apartment as getting it wrong on your behalf can turn out to be very expensive for you. Good luck!