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10 questions to ask when buying a flat

Looking for a new flat can be both an exciting and intimidating task. Whether you’re a first time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of viewing a property only to discover you’ve forgotten to find out the all-important details. Here are 10 questions to ask when buying a flat to help you find the perfect property.

Is the property freehold or leasehold?

When you purchase a freehold property you own the property and the land it is built on outright. You are also responsible for maintenance and upkeep of the land.

When you buy a leasehold property, you’ll lease the land for a fixed amount of time from a freeholder. As a leaseholder you’ll be responsible for maintenance fees, annual service charges and you’ll also pay a ground rent to the freeholder, so it’s important to find this out before you make an offer.

How long is the lease?

This will depend on the property but leaseholds are usually between 90 and 999 years.

What is the ground rent?

Your ground rent is a contractual agreement for occupation of an area of land. As of 30 June 2022, anyone buying a new leasehold property will not be subject to ground rent charges after a government ban came into force.

What are the maintenance charges?

Maintenance charges occur when all sorts of issues pop up like rewiring or a boiler breakdown. When purchasing a new flat consider asking your agent what your maintenance charges are and what they cover.

What are the service charges?

Services charges are used for a whole manner of services for the upkeep of your new property, such as; communal areas, garden maintenance and even utilities such as electricity and gas.

How much is my council tax?

Your council tax band determines how much you’ll pay, so be sure to ask your agent which band the new property falls under.

How energy efficient is the flat?

When purchasing a new build property, your home is much likely to be more energy efficient than an older home which could reduce your monthly running costs.

You can ask the agent for the property’s energy performance certificate (EPC) to gauge how energy efficient it is. EPCs last 10 years and should be renewed when the property is listed for sale.

What fixtures and fittings are included?

Having a full list of what’s included in the property can help you decide if it’s good value for money – you might view a flat which is in your price range, but if you need to buy all new appliances when you move in that could push it over budget.

Check for things such as toilets, baths, fridges, freezers and dishwashers.

If the property is off-plan, when is the expected completion date?

If you’re looking at new build properties, there may be a wait of anywhere from a few months to a few years before the development is finished. It’s important to ask when the expected completion date is, so you have a timeline to work to. In the meantime, you can focus on the exciting details like choosing your brand-new kitchen finishes or flooring style. Find out more about buying off-plan.

What is the local area like?

What are the local schools around the area like? What are the closest amenities? Where is the nearest train station or bus stop? Ask for advice from your agent but also do some of your own research by taking a walk or drive around the surrounding area on different days of the week and at different times of day.

We hope these questions can help guide you in those early stages of buying a new flat. If you’re looking for more property advice check out our buyer’s guide and if you’re in the market for one of our impressive premium properties have a look at our apartments and homes for sale