Three questions to ask before buying a flat in Newington Green
With a wealth of Grade II listed buildings, speedy transport links to central London and fabulous range of restaurants, it’s no surprise that Newington Green is a key London location for flat hunters.
According to Time Out, the area’s varied claims to fame include having the world’s best greengrocer, more regular bus routes than you could ever dream of, and a rich history of 18th century radicalism – early feminist, Mary Wollstonecraft once lived here. There are plenty of award-winning eateries – even the green in the area’s name has its own cute café, and a great mix of independent and vintage shops.
If you’re seeking an apartment in this vibrant area, you’ll find properties to suit everyone, from young professionals and students to families. Flats on offer range from eco-friendly new-build apartments to spacious period conversions, suitable for growing families, and in keeping with this stunning conservation area.
But whether you’ve set your heart on a flat for sale in Newington Green or nearby Islington, Highbury, Hackney and Stoke Newington, the chances are you’ll be looking at a leasehold property.
When you buy a leasehold flat, you are buying the building but not the land it sits on. Buying leasehold gives the purchaser the right to occupy the property for the amount of time specified in a legal agreement – the lease. Ownership of the property will ultimately revert to the freeholder – also known as the landlord – once the lease expires. This is different to the other main form of ownership, freehold – where the purchaser owns the property and the land outright.
A leasehold property is a perfectly safe investment, however – and by far the most common way of purchasing a flat or apartment in London, and the UK as a whole. However, there are three basic questions you should ask before committing to the sale:
1. How long is left on the lease?
No two leases are the same, but leases tend to be for a long period; probably much longer than the number of years you’ll own the property. Most leases are for between 90 and 125 years, although they can be for as much as 999 years. As the lease gets shorter, the leasehold property reduces in value, long before the agreement is due to expire.
Under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993, the landlord is entitled to half of the increase in the value of the property when a lease with less than 80 years to run is extended. This is called the ‘marriage’ fee because the value of the property and longer lease are combined (or married together).
Purchasers of flats with leases of less than 80 years remaining may also find it harder to obtain a mortgage on the property, because of the risk of it falling in value.
If you’ve found a property with a short lease, you shouldn’t despair – it is possible to negotiate a lease extension with the freeholder, for a fee. You will have needed to have lived in the property for two years before you can do this. However, you can make it a condition of the sale that the current owner begins this process for you.
2. How much is the ground rent?
This is rent payable to the landlord on an annual or half-yearly basis. It is usually relatively small; in the region of £200 to £300 a year for properties in Newington Green, or sometimes nothing at all (known as a peppercorn rent). In the case of new-build developments, some properties have clauses, which allow for large increases, although the government is currently considering changes that would outlaw this practice.
3. What are the service charges?
To cover the costs of insuring and maintaining the fabric of the building, and the shared areas of the development, the landlord or managing agent will require service charges and sometimes management charges too.
Charges vary depending on the size of the development, value of the flat and level of maintenance works required. Some service charges also include contributions to a reserve, or sinking fund, that is used to cover future one-off bills, for decorating the exterior, for example.
M&M Property’s News section contains a wealth of information about buying, selling, renting and letting homes in and around Newington Green.
For further information about leasehold property for sale in and around Newington Green, contact M&M Property today.