Buying an ex-council house in London: the pros, cons and what to avoid

Ex-local authority homes are a great way to get on the property ladder in London.
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The pros: Affordable Find out if you are eligible. Paul Gibbens (Marketing executive and property specialist at Housebuyers4u) says that this is a huge incentive and that one can purchase the property with a huge discount. However, you might have to repay some of the discount if you sell the property within five years. Ex-council homes are a great option for potential buyers who want to save money. However, if you sell within five years, you may have to repay some of the discount.
Square PegGibbens says: “For Londoners, purchasing an ex-council property may well mean their best chance at affordability living in the Zones, especially 1 and 2.Christian Dugard is the founder of EXLA London. He states: “Ex-council properties can be more affordable, with generally lower fees and in some great places. For example, you could find a three-bed, garden flat in Zones 1, 2 or 3, close to great transport links, for?425,000. “Declan Curran, a London ex-council property letting agent, said that affordability is the key element. “While the days of cheap flats in London are gone, a two-bed ex LA flat in a tower block in Kensington or Shoreditch will almost always be less than a one-bed apartment in a period-converted house nearby. They are not for everyone, but they can be a great financial investment for first-time buyers, investors, and those without children. The pros: Location Ex-LA buyers may be able live in a more central area if they buy ex-LA. Curran says that today’s “posher” areas, such as Kensington, Notting Hill and Pimlico and Fulham, along with now-trendy places such as Shoreditch, Hackney, saw a lot of council building programs. These programmes were made available to non-council tenants in the wake Of Thatcher’s 1980s right-to buy initiative. This means that you can theoretically purchase a flat just a stone’s throw away from a private, purpose-built block. It shares a postcode and all the amenities that a good area has. The pros: DesignCouncil homes are designed for living and not profit. They have large rooms, lots of storage and separate kitchens. “The pros: Ex-council homes are beautiful, well-built buildings with period features and interesting stories. They have large rooms, ample storage, separate kitchens, and separate bathrooms. Thompson’s photography book also features a transformed ex-LA home in Ainsworth Way.
Square PegThe pros: Service chargeHaving a fixed amount to pay can be advantageous. (See cons: service charges and hidden costs for disadvantages)”Ex-council are maintained well whilst in the hand of the council as many councils have dedicated teams of tradesmen to ensure the properties are well maintained and up to standard.” He says. She says, “There’s nothing too wonky nor too rooted in an historical period. They are more like a white cube. The pros: A sense of belonging and community. A council estate is a great place to live in London and to integrate with the community. “The cons”: Reluctant mortgage lenders. Ex-LA properties that are not of standard construction or higher than five stories can have trouble getting mortgages.
Square PegDugard adds the main challenge EXLA faces when selling ex-council properties is not a lack of people not wanting to buy them, but the banks not wanting to lend. There may not be enough sales history to show their resaleability, if the owner defaulted. He says that banks are not up to date in their prejudice against ex-council property owners. These properties would sell if banks would lend on them. The ‘difficult-to-mortgage properties’ are in high demand, but buyers can’t afford to buy them because banks refuse to change with the times and realize that they are highly sought after properties. “Of course, there may be safety concerns due to cladding. I understand why banks don’t want to lend. But, the more important question is: Should anyone live in those flats? “The cons: StigmaBecause they were designed to provide housing for disadvantaged populations, they can be stereotyped to be less desirable places to live. Gibbens says ex-local authority housing is subject to stigma. Gibbens says that ex-local authority housing is often stigmatized. To get a feel for the life you will have once you have the keys, visit the block at different times of the day, even late at night. If you are unsure, leave the block and there will be another. It is worth talking to people who have lived in ex-LA apartments as tenants or leaseholders. Curran says that while thousands of people have lived in ex-LA flats without any problems, the more information you can get and the wider the knowledge you will have, the cons are: Potential. It is difficult to change the design of ex local authority properties if they are leasehold. They might not appreciate in value as fast as the private property market. The cons: Hidden costs and service charges. Leaseholders can see what they will be paying before they pay. Buyers will need to pay service charges and ground rent, which can sometimes be in the thousands. Buyers should ask about the length of the lease and whether major works are required on the property. These details can be refined during the conveyancing phase of the buying process. Curran states: “Almost every ex-LA flat is leasehold. This means that you will be responsible for annual service fees, ground rent, and a portion of any major works bills. “So far, so good — the same applies for flats in most private blocks. Ex-council flats have a council as a freeholder and can be notoriously expensive when it comes to cost. “Leaseholders can be seen as cash cows that can be milked whenever the local authority runs low, despite being increasingly cash-strapped. In extreme cases, you might be one of four leaseholders in a block with 20 units. The 16 other tenants are council tenants. In such a situation, if the block’s roof or lift needs major repairs, it’s not the 16 tenants who will be charged. Instead, the costs will be split between the four leaseholders. This could prove to be financially devastating. Do your research to find out what charges will apply, what major works are planned for the future, and whether any of these have been completed recently. “I had to overcome the snobbery that I have about it.” Sarah Thompson, a single mother from Bridport in west Dorset, was inspired to create her photography book. She bought her council home for just over?200,000 in 2007. She admits that she had to overcome her own snobbery. “Council houses don’t always look as beautiful from the outside as Victorian-period houses or something similar.” I was immediately impressed by the generous proportions of the house when I first walked in the door. A set of rules was put in place in the 60s that required that every house have a certain amount space in each room to allow for furniture to be moved around. “I knew a lot people in my generation who believed they would have amazing houses. The ex-council gave them another option. You can find some amazing rural homes.
Square Peg”I think it’s quite important to speak to the bones of a building without wanting to sound pretentious. It’s a 1950s house, so I didn’t want it to be decorated with Victorian-style things. So I kept it simple. I haven’t taken down any walls because that’s the genius of the house. The downside is that you can’t always upgrade them because you over-spec them. “Thompson’s book features dozens of council buildings, many of which were designed by prominent architects like Ern? Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower, Kensal Green. There are pitfalls. Sometimes they don’t look as nice from the outside. You have to accept that. You have to accept that the price increase is not necessarily the same as for a regular home. ‘I got it so cheap because it was really really unattractive’However, property prices may have gone up depending on when they were bought. Sarah Moore, 40, works as a housing officer for the local government. In 2004, she bought her first home, an ex-council one bed Homes For Haringey maisonette, for?165,000 It is now valued at more than?300,000. She says, “It was a dump at the time I bought it, but it was an ex-local authority property so it had good bones and straight lines. It was built in 1970 so it was relatively easy to renovate.” It was basically what I could afford. I had looked into sharing ownership but decided it was a con. I’d also looked at new builds in the same price range, but I just felt they were small and stuffy. This home offered me a lot more value for my money. Property portals have now estimated Sarah’s home as worth more than?300,000.
/ Handout Moore, a leaseholder, looked for major work when she purchased the property and was able to negotiate a?5,000 discount on the asking price for?10,000 worth of planned major works. But her investment has paid off. Moore spent approximately?15,000 renovating the property, while keeping costs low and learning how to do most of it herself. It’s a beautiful property now that the major work is done and I’ve done the rest of the work myself. The area has also improved. “Moore believes the benefits include storage, space and location. Her advice to potential buyers? Don’t let a property that needs extensive work scare you. She adds, “That’s how it was so cheap because it wasn’t really attractive.”