Homes come in all shapes and sizes and for many people, as long as they have a roof over their head, they don’t care whether the home has one floor or ten. But if you are looking at buying a new home, you might be wondering whether a flat or a house is going to be a better choice. Both are likely to be on offer, although if you are looking at inner city properties, flats will be more prevalent than houses. So what are the main differences and what do you need to be aware of before investing?
Leasehold Vs Freehold
Flats are normally leasehold whereas houses are freehold. This creates a lot of problems and can make it harder to sell the property or obtain a mortgage if there are not many years left on the lease. If you are considering buying a flat, always take specialist advice on the subject of leases, as they can be very restrictive.
When you buy a house, you expect to pay the usual expenses such as gas, electricity, etc. With flats it can be a bit different and there are sometimes ground rent and service charges to take into account. You may also be expected to contribute to major building repairs such as a leaking roof, even if your flat is not affected, so once again, take advice before buying.
Although there is a common perception that flats are smaller than houses, this is not true at all. Many flats are just as spacious as houses and encompass just as many square feet of living space. You may even find a flat with living space split over two floors. However, if you want a property with multiple bedrooms and a large amount of living space, there will be a lot more houses to choose from. And if you are short of money and can’t afford a large home, the opposite will be true and flats are likely to be at the top of the affordability scale.
Most flats have some degree of communal space, be it a shared landing and staircase or a communal hallway. This doesn’t mean that you will ever see any of your close neighbours, but if you are the solitary type who prefers to avoid other human beings, a flat might not suit you. It is possible, however, to find self-contained flats with their own private entrance that feel like houses rather than flats. These are perhaps the best of both worlds.
A lot of modern houses, particularly low-cost homes, are built in very close proximity to one another, with paper-thin walls. This can lead to noise problems if you have neighbours who like the sound of their rock music and enjoy arguing at 3AM in the morning. Flats can be even worse and there is nothing worse than listening to an ignorant resident in the flat above stomping around and making a racket for hours. The only way to avoid this problem is to buy a detached house on a large plot.
People with mobility problems will find it hard to cope with stairs, which rules out most homes built over more than one level. Since flats tend to be built on one level, they are a good choice for people with disabilities, although anything above ground level may represent a problem unless there are elevators in the building. If you still want to live in a house, your best option is to opt for a bungalow.
Ultimately, whether you buy a house or a flat will be a decision governed by your personal circumstances and the property available, but do make sure you take expert advice before investing any money in property.