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Why I like houses more than flats by Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com

Ah, us British and Irish we just love those lovely Victorian and early Edwardian houses don’t we.
We love them so much so that we are happy to chop them up into “conversions” and make little flats out of them.
Our love affair for the converted flat can be seen in the fact that many people are prepared to pay as much if not more for a two bed converted Victorian flat than they would for an equivalent two bedroom ex local authority freehold house with a garden on a nice estate in a similar area.
As a property investing landlord who has owned both types of property, I’m not convinced by these Victorian conversions.
In the long run, properties that are freehold and have gardens will always keep their price – just as long as they are in decent areas.
If I had to choose between a converted Victoriana flat with no garden and a freehold two bed modern house with a garden I would always tend to go for the house.
Why?

CONVERSIONS CAN BE A PAIN IN THE NECK
Well, it’s more than just money, it’s time too.
You see, if you have a problem with a flat, you may also get problems with neighbours too. Think leaks and how leaks tend to damage anywhere below where the leak occurs and you’ll know here I am coming from.
Often, conversions also seem to have poor plumbing and heating systems – another consequence of the fact that they were not built to be separate dwellings.
Think about noise and inconsiderate neighbours. In converted flats, noise is always a real problem because the properties were never built to be soundproofed in the first place.
And too many converted flats have problem leases too which make it really hard to get a freeholder to do anything, like fix the building.
Recently I looked after a property for some friends who had gone overseas.
What a nightmare! I constantly had noise issues, leaks, endless plumbing issues and antisocial neghbours to deal with.
A good pal of mine in the trade, who I can’t name, has a business where he helps people extend leases and buy freeholds. He knows how hard it is to enforce your rights as a leaseholder or get agreement on a shared freehold and he says he would never buy a flat. He should know!
If I really had to buy a converted leasehold flat, I would only buy where there was just one other leaseholder in the block – and even then I would want to see a rental yield at least 2% higher than on an equivalent freehold to make up for all the extra work involved.

BELOW MARKET VALUE SHOW GOES ON
At our recent networking event Simon Taylor, the founder of GetAnOffer.co.uk told us that serious buyers with cash or access to lending are still using the downturn to their advantage to buy below market value properties.
Simon has accepted that with legislation imminent, the party is over as far as Sale and Rent Back is concerned but is still confident that on his site where sellers pay to advertise their properties below market value deals can still be had.
His site has some interesting features and is worth checking out.

INFLATION NOT DOWN MUCH – SHOCK HORROR
I see that the commentators were a bit surprised that the latest inflation numbers were not as low as expected. Goodness gracious, where did they study economics.
I would have thought it pretty obvious that with the pound so low, the impact of “imported inflation” for anything made abroad (which these days is pretty well most things) was always going to be pretty significant.
The scribes were also surpised that yesterday’s mortgage numbers were the highest since way back in the autumn.
More proof that the doomsayers who forecast further huge falls in the price of property will be proved wrong.

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ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the property letting experts. Read Articles for Landlords.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - buy Landlords Book.
The new edition is for accidental and experienced landlords and is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on sale and rent back.
I’m an expert property writer and property speaker - and I run the well known landlords blog that you are reading now.
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general property letting advice and consulting to anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let out. I can help private individuals with any aspect of buying property or buy to let.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we are independent property investment advisors because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from these sources.
We simply give one to one unbiased advice and are often asked to evaluate other property investments.
Find out about some great deals we have arranged at our Landlords Resources page.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week.
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