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How is Selling a Flat Different from Selling a House?

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How is Selling a Flat Different from Selling a House?
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When it comes time to sell your property, you may wonder if there are significant differences between selling a flat and a house. While the overall sales process is essentially the same, there are some unique considerations that you should keep in mind when selling a flat.

In this blog, we’ll explore the main differences between selling a flat and a house you should know before putting your property on the market.

Is it harder or easier to sell a flat?

There are pros and cons to selling both flats and houses. On one hand, flats generally sell more quickly than houses in today’s market. This is partly because flats are more affordable and appealing to first-time buyers and investors. The lower price point attracts more potential buyers and leads to quicker sales.

However, selling a flat can also come with unique challenges. For example, you may need consent from the freeholder or have restrictions on alterations from the lease. Buyers may be concerned about noise from neighbours, service changes, cladding issues, or other flat-related factors. While these things won’t necessarily deter sales, they require more communication and paperwork than houses.

On balance, flats aren’t necessarily more challenging to sell than houses. However, the process does tend to be a bit more administratively intense. As long as you understand the unique considerations and factor those into your timeline and expectations, selling a flat can be as smooth as selling a house.

How is selling a flat different from selling a house?

When selling a house, you only need to consider the property itself. But with a flat, you’ll also need to consider the building, development, other residents, and arrangements like service changes.

For example, details like communal areas, facilities, staff, and ongoing or planned maintenance will all impact a flat’s saleability and value. As the seller, you must communicate these factors in the sales listing. Buyers may have more questions or want to see paperwork around costs, responsibilities, etc.

The sales process follows the same basic steps, like putting the property on the market, finding a buyer, negotiating an offer, and completing contracts. However, extra documents are required when selling a flat, such as lease details, service charge information, and consent from the freeholder to assign the lease.

So, while the core process is the same, flats require more administrative tasks than houses. But none of these should block a sale if appropriately handled.

Do flats sell for more or less money?

Whether a flat sells for more or less than a house depends entirely on the individual property, location, and specifications; there is no general rule that flats sell for higher prices per square foot.

In prime city centre locations, well-appointed flats in modern developments can sell for just as much, if not more, than an equivalent-sized house. This is because they benefit from proximity to amenities, less maintenance, security features, and lifestyle conveniences.

However, houses in many suburban or rural locations tend to achieve higher sales prices than flats pound for pound. There is often more demand for homes in these areas, while buyers may view flats slightly less favourably.

A range of factors, from location and facilities to supply and demand, determines property prices rather than the type of building. Well-presented flats in popular areas can sell very competitively. But they may need help to beat stand-alone houses in the same neighbourhood.

Do I need to communicate with the freeholder?

If you own a leasehold flat, consent from the freeholder to assign the lease to the new owner will be required. So yes, you must formally communicate with the freeholder during the sales process.

The freeholder cannot unreasonably withhold this consent. However, they may charge a small admin fee for granting it. They may also want to check the buyer before approving the sale.

You should contact the freeholder for consent once an offer on your flat is accepted. This can take 1-2 weeks to receive, so it’s best to request it early so it doesn’t cause delays.

You’ll also need to supply paperwork to your conveyancer about the terms of your lease, service changes, major works, etc. Your buyer’s mortgage provider may want to see this documentation, too. So, being prepared with all the relevant flat-related information will help ensure a smooth sales process.

Do some estate agents specialise in selling flats?

Some estate agents do choose to specialise in specific property types like flats. These agents focus on particular local markets where flats, like big cities, make up a large share of housing stock.

Specialist flat-selling agents have extensive first-hand experience with all the extra steps and paperwork. They also build connections with developers, freeholders and resident associations. So, they offer valuable insight that more generalist agents may lack.

Agents focusing on flats often have better access to targeted marketing channels. They may advertise in areas popular with investors, use flat-specific property portals, or connect with registered house builders. This can help them tap into highly relevant audiences to get a flat sold.

A specialist agent is beneficial if flats comprise a large proportion of housing in your area. Their expertise can make the process of selling a flat much smoother.

How prevalent are flats in the UK?

Flats have become an increasingly popular housing choice in the UK today. Official statistics show that flats comprise over one-fifth of homes across England and Wales. Around 55% of London households live in flats rather than houses.

The popularity of flats reflects broader social shifts like more single occupiers, increasing urbanisation, and demand for lower maintenance homes. Flats provide affordable, flexible and practical housing for modern needs.

New developments also focus heavily on apartments to efficiently use limited land availability. So the proportion of flats versus houses continues rising yearly as construction accelerates.

First-time buyers often view flats as the only affordable route onto the property ladder. And buy-to-let investors favour flats for their rental potential and easy maintenance.

While houses remain the preferred choice for many, especially families, flats are firmly embedded in UK housing. With demand increasing, selling a flat can be easier than disposing of a house in today’s market.

Can I sell my flat to a cash house buyer?

Selling your flat to a cash buyer is possible and can help accelerate the sales process. Cash buyers have funds readily available and can purchase properties outright without needing a mortgage. This removes one of the main reasons deals fall through.

Cash buyers interested in flats include:

  • Individual landlords expanding their portfolio
  • Developers planning refurbishments or conversions
  • Investors upgrading facilities for better rental yields
  • First-time buyers with help from parents
  • Downsizers using equity from their current home

The benefit of selling to a cash buyer is certainty. Once they make an offer, there is little risk of delays or withdrawal before completion. However, this certainty sometimes comes at a slight discount on the asking price.

Selling a flat has some critical differences from selling a house, and neither is definitively harder or easier to sell than the other. When you sell a flat, remember that you will need consent from the freeloader and may be required to provide extra paperwork. However, the core sales process remains largely the same.

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