With real estate in our major cities looking a little on the pricey side these days, many young families and first-time buyers are purchasing flats and apartments rather than houses. In the UK, flats make up 17% of the national housing market, while in property hotspots like London, that figure skyrockets to 50% of all sales. Before you put an offer on your dream pad in a city high-rise, here’s a short guide to the things you might like to consider.
See if you qualify for help
Whether you’re buying a family home or a studio apartment, the chances are that a little bit of financial help will still be necessary. When you try to decide your budget, make sure you factor in the Government’s help to buy schemes. Equally, if it’s a new build you’re after, you could take advantage of the equity loan scheme too. The ‘help to buy’ initiative means you only need to raise 5% of your deposit, while the government gives you a loan of up to 20% of the total house price. So you’ll be able to get a much better rate on whichever type of mortgage you end up choosing.
Pick your floor
When you start looking for your dream apartment, remember to consider the pros and cons of living on different levels. Flats above shops can be up to 15% cheaper than other apartments. You could also benefit from incredible views if you opt for a high-level option, but make sure that your building has lift access as well as those exhausting several flights of stairs.
Is it family friendly?
If you have a young family – or a baby on the way – you’ll need to make sure that you can easily get your prams and pushchairs to and from your front door without much hassle. If there’s a balcony, double check that there are security measures in place to keep your kids safe.
If heights aren’t quite your thing, there are many advantages to buying a basement property. They’re usually lower in price and are great for people with bikes or heavy equipment they need to move in and out regularly. Basement flats usually also come with gardens attached or at least with priority access to the garden through a separate, private door, so you and your family have more independence from the rest of the building. However, don’t forget to look out for things like poor lighting, potential damp problems and patchy mobile signal when you view a basement property.
Consider your neighbours
When you live in a flat, you’ll probably be surrounded by other families and individuals living out their day-to-day lives. You’ll need to deal with shared walls and communal areas with front doors next to and opposite each other. When you’re looking around a building for the first time, make sure you take a look at what your neighbours might be like. What sort of age are they? Are you looking at living side-by-side with families, retirees, or even student flat-shares?
Don’t forget extra fees
When buying your first home, we know there are lots of costs and fees to take into account. If your’s is a flat, there are some extra numbers to add to the list. Check how much the service charges for your building will be. These should cover any maintenance repairs, lift servicing and heating costs, as well as the cleaning of communal spaces and waste disposal.