How to buy a flat

publication date: Oct 9, 2012


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Choose a Legal Company that specialises in flat purchases via leasehold agreements.  
Research the market.
Budget for the move, including additional monies. For example, most legal companies will charge you an additional £100 to purchase a flat versus a freehold property.
  Carry out mortgage research and find out how much you can borrow and be aware that some mortgage companies restrict borrowing on flats over shops or in converted properties.  
  Research the Estate Agents and directly with New Build Developers, find ones that specialise or have sold a lot in the blocks you are considering.
  Identify and brief the developers and agents about the property you want to buy.
  Carry out viewings, making specific checks for noise from above (or below) due to laminate/wooden flooring, also from communal areas late at night or early in the morning. Check too how well/badly the outside and communal areas are maintained. 
Ask for the leasehold document and check what the lease length is for the property. Note anything less than 80 years could mean you CAN'T secure a mortgage and may have problems selling it in the future.
Find out what restrictions they are, for example, can you rent rooms to other people, what noise restrictions are there, what can you alter in the property?
Check what the current and next three years service and ground rent charges will be. Is there any major works required?
Make an offer on the property subject to an independent property survey.
Contact us to find out what to do if your offer is rejected.
Offer accepted.
Organise an independent survey.
Finalise your mortgage offer and insurance.
Manage the purchase of your property, ask the legal company for a list of the leasehold restrictions and also for confirmation of future service/ground rent charges. Finally make sure you know of any major renovation works requiring additional funds in the future eg a new roof.
File your paperwork carefully - you'll need the paperwork when you come to sell.
Organise your removals/packaging subject to exchange.
Exchange contracts.
Organise change of address.
Complete your purchase and move in!
Pay the stamp duty and check the SDLT forms have been filed. 


All our information is brought to you by Kate Faulkner OBE, author of Which? Property books and one of the UK's top property experts.
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