Buying a Flat: Everything You Need to Know

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Buying a Flat: Everything You Need to Know
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Buying a flat is an exciting milestone for anyone getting onto the property ladder. For first time buyers, a flat will typically be the most affordable of all property types, and therefore the most attainable.

It is important that you are well informed about all the important details of buying a flat before you jump into it. There are pros and cons to purchasing this type of property – and there are also a few other details you should consider, which do not apply when buying a detached house.

Read our blog below for everything you need to know about buying a flat in the UK.

Advantages of Buying a Flat

A flat in the UK tends to be in a lower price range, making it more affordable for first time buyers who are not currently on the property ladder. You will be able to purchase one with a smaller deposit and a lower salary, in comparison to buying a detached house.

You will also generally find that a flat is easier to maintain. Since it is smaller than a typical house, there will be less rooms for you to clean and items for you to fix. If you choose to complete these fixes yourself, then it will reduce the time and hassle involved.

On some occasions, a modern flat building will have shared spaces and facilities, such as a gym, outdoor area, bike racks or even a swimming pool. While these features will tend to increase the price of the flat when you first buy it, this can still give you access to things that you wouldn’t get when buying a detached or semi-detached property on your own.

Plenty of flats have increased security measures, such as several layers of coded doors, or CCTV throughout the building. You may even find that there is a caretaker or security guard who sits at a front desk.

In many cases, the maintenance of the building you live in will be the responsibility of someone else. While you will typically pay a fee towards upkeep, you will not have to take over the hassle of maintain the communal spaces yourself.

Disadvantages of Buying a Flat

There are drawbacks to buying a flat that you should also consider before making a purchase decision. One of the main disadvantages is that there may be restrictions about what you can or can’t do in the flat – for example, owning a pet, smoking, or subletting. You should make sure that you are familiar with all of these rules before you buy the flat, so there are no unexpected surprises further down the line.

A typical flat in the UK will have limited space. This means that if you are moving in with a partner, and you plan on raising a large family together, you will need to think about the number of rooms you have in the flat and whether it is sufficient to meet all your future needs.

Flats do not typically have a private garden area. On some occasions, there may be a communal space for all the residents in the building, but this does not give the same freedom and privacy that detached homeowners enjoy.

You will probably be living close to other people when you buy a flat, especially if there are shared walls with some of the other residents in the building. If these people are loud or nosy, then this may cause some frustration and bad feeling.

Lastly, the average flat in the UK takes longer to sell than a detached or semi-detached house. So, if/when the time arrives to offload the property further down the line, you should be prepared for a longer process, as it is more difficult to sell your flat fast.

Check the lease

It’s important that you consider the length of the lease on a flat before you jump into a purchase. In an ideal world, the lease length will be greater than 99 years – otherwise, you may struggle to get a mortgage on the flat from the lender, and you will also have difficulties selling the property further down the line.

Ensure you have all necessary documentation

New legislation from the UK government means that a flat seller needs an EWS1 form when selling. You should ask them for this document.

As of 2025, people letting out flats will need to have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘C’ if they wish to let out a flat further. Therefore, if you are buying a flat with the intention of renting it out in the future, it is important that you get the EPC certificate from the seller, too.

Additional charges

While buying a flat is typically less expensive than a semi-detached or detached house, there are small additional charges that you should factor into your calculations. For example, many building owners charge ground rent and service charge when you purchase a flat.

The service charge will cover the maintenance of the communal parts of the building, while ground rent is to cover the cost of the land your flat is built on. The average yearly ground rent charge is around £500, and the typical service charge is between £200 to £500.

Building insurance for a leasehold flat

You should speak to the freeholder of the building about building insurance for your flat. In most cases, the freeholder should have insurance on the entire development – although the cost of this may be included in the ground rent that you pay, or it may be charged separately.

In some cases, the lease may require that the leaseholder take out building insurance from a named insurer. You should confirm whether this is the case before buying a flat, because it may impact your decision.

Do flats increase in value?

Yes, flats in the UK have a history of increasing in value. Just keep in mind that they will not tend to grow in value as significantly as some other, larger properties.

You will find that most first time buyers, students and workers are keen to live in a flat that is close to a city centre, because it is likely to be nearby to where they work or study. If your flat is located close to the middle of a town or city, it is therefore highly likely to go up in value over several years.

If you want advice on how to sell a flat fast, or tips on what to look for when buying a converted flat, then We Buy Any Home can help. Click on the links for more information and contact us if you’d like a free, no-obligation valuation on your house.

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