Choose a house

In addition to deciding what area you want to live in, you will have to make up your mind in regard to the characteristics of your future home.

Again, we have compiled a list of property features you will have to consider:-

Property type

Do you wanta house or a flat? If you prefer a house, should it be detached, semi-detached or terraced?

Property Features

Determine what size your future home should be (keep in mind that bigger houses mean higher heating costs!)

Decide on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, whether you want a garden, central heating or double glazing.

Old or new?

A new house will be more expensive to buy, but with an old property high expenses might incur for repairs and improvements


If you own a car, check whether you have good parking facilities on the street or if there is a garage.

Leasehold or Freehold?

Freehold means that you fully own the property, the land it is on (if it is a house) and the space it encompasses. It also means you will be responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Leasehold means that you own the property for a limited period of time only. You are practically leasing it from the freeholder. When the lease runs out, property ownership is again passed to the freeholder. Today, leasehold properties are mainly flats – the freeholder retains possession of the land underneath them.

When you consider buying a leasehold, check who is responsible for repairs and maintenance (the proviso is normally included in the lease). Furthermore, you will have to pay ground rent to the leaseholder, usually on a yearly basis. Check that the seller is up to date with his rent payments.

It is recommended not to buy a property if the lease is less than 60 years. Mortgage lenders usually require a minimum of 20 years left on the lease at the end of the mortgage term. For details on how you can extend leases please contact:

Leasehold Advisory Service
70-74 City Road , London , EC1Y 2BJ
Tel: 0845 345 1993

Registered or Unregistered Property?

A property is registered when the title to the property is recorded at HM Land Registry and thus certified by the government. It is less complicated to buy a property from a seller with a “Land Certificate”.

The ownership of unregistered property is not certified by the state. The title can only be proved by a copy of the title deeds, (your solicitor will check back on that) and unfortunately, disputes over title can arise.

A new law states that unregistered property now has to be registered with HM Land Registry when it changes hands. This draws out the buying process and your legal expenses.

House-Hunting Resources

After having decided on your priorities, you can start off looking for a house. There are different resources for property listings.

Estate Agents

A seller may employ an Estate Agent to advertise the property and handle negotiations. Agents usually have a wide range of properties available and can offer detailed information.

We recommend to contact as many local Estate Agents as possible and to make sure you keep informed about all the latest house on the market.

Potential Problems: You should keep in mind that an Estate Agent is employed by the seller and might try to get the best possible deal for their client. It is always good to get some independent information about market prices in order to prevent you from being taken advantage of.

Private Sale

Some house sellers prefer tohandle their sale privately, by advertising locally. You will usually recognise a private sale by the handmade sign outside a property or by an advert in your local paper. Since the seller does not have to pay Estate Agent fees, you might end up paying less.

Potential Problems: A private seller might not deal with you in the same professional manner as an Estate Agent does. Especially when difficulties or delays arise, the situation can become a bit tense.


Online property listings are very convenient to get a quick impression of what’s on the market, and for buyers who want to move to a distant area. It is usually possible to look for properties according to features, price range and location. Internet listings can be accessed via Estate Agents’ home pages or independent property web sites.

Potential Problems: A photo posted on the internet might not give you an adequate impression of the property, so it is better to remain sceptical until you have actually seen the house