If you have been in and around Lichfield and Cannock recently you cannot help but have noticed the increase in the number of ‘sold’ property signs.
This is being echoed across the UK, as evidence emerges that the property market is finally beginning to stir. According to a leading building society, house prices rose by 0.9 per cent in April compared to the same time last year, the biggest annual increase in more than 12 months.
The good news is that the market is predicted to strengthen further in 2013, with first-time buyers accounting for 43 per cent of purchases in February, the highest proportion since 2005.
As the presence of first-time purchasers grows stronger, Julie Tomasik of Ansons Solicitors recommends that property owners of leasehold houses or flats should be considering how to make their prospect the most attractive.
One way of achieving this is to extend the leasehold or consider purchasing the freehold to make your property more marketable, especially as the minimum number of years required by mortgage companies is greater than it once was. Most lenders are now looking at a minimum of 70 plus years remaining on the lease.
As a leaseholder, you can ask the landlord for the lease to be extended at any time. You might even qualify for the right to a 50 year lease extension on a house and 90 years for a flat. There are different rules depending on whether it is a house or a flat and your solicitor can advise you if you qualify.
A leaseholder can also ask the landlord to sell you the freehold at any time. Again, you might even qualify for the right to buy it if you fulfil the criteria set depending on whether it is a house or a flat. If you live in a leasehold flat and the landlord decides to sell the freehold, you have ‘right of first refusal’. This means that they have to offer you and any other leaseholders the opportunity to buy it first.
Before buying a leasehold property your lawyer will need to check the terms of the lease before you spend any money on surveys or mortgage applications. They will be able to advise you how many years there are left on the lease, and find out if you can extend the lease or buy the freehold. They can also advise you on the reasonableness of the ground rent, service and maintenance charges for the building that you will have to pay to the freehold owner.
For more information about leasehold properties and advice on extending or buying the lease, please contact Julie Tomasik at Ansons Solicitors in Lichfield on 01543 267988.