Whether you’re looking for a new investment option or you’re ready to purchase your first home, it’s likely that you’ve asked yourself the question, “should I buy a flat or a house as a first-time buyer?”
Choosing between a house or flat is a big decision and one that has numerous advantages and disadvantages each way.
Taking a detailed look at your options will provide you with all the information you need to make that all-important decision. That’s why we’ve put together our top house vs flat pros and cons to help you decide which is the best option for you, along with advice on how to buy your first house or flat.
Is it better to live in a house or apartment?
Deciding whether to live in a house or an apartment is largely up to personal preference, however, there are some common aspects that you may want to look at to make your decision easier.
In apartments, more often than not, there will exist a thin wall that separates your life from your neighbours’. This means that you may hear parts of their life quite clearly. In houses, you’ll be able to separate yourself far easier, which is a definite advantage if you have noisy neighbours! Of course, there are pros and cons to both.
Space (square footage)
Depending on the size of your house or apartment, there might not be much in it. Of course, two major differences would be garden space and being able to expand the property. Very few apartments have garden space, and even fewer (almost none) will allow you an extension like you could add to a house.
When you buy a house, you are its ‘manager’. When you buy an apartment, the whole building will be maintained by a building management company.
Generally speaking, flats are more likely found in city centre regions and the outskirts, whereas the traditional house model is found more in the suburbs. Again, this is speaking generally but, given the lack of expanse and space in city centres, apartment living is usually the solution.
Dependent on the location of your house, apartments are often safer. Along with building management companies that may offer a concierge service, there will be things like security codes and above-ground flats.
Owning your home means that you’ll be in full control of its maintenance, whether that’s fixing things yourself or hiring someone to carry out the work. In apartments, you’ll likely have to work alongside the building’s maintenance team (unless the maintenance is trivial, like replacing a lightbulb for instance!).
There are minimal financial differences between leasehold agreements (where you own the apartment but not the land on which it sits) and freehold agreements (where you own the property and the land). With a house, you’re fully responsible for all maintenance costs and they’re usually more expensive to purchase than apartments.
These are just a few of the things to be mindful of when comparing houses and apartments. In reality, there will be a whole host of additional factors that you will realise are important to you when choosing the perfect home. Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each option to help you decide which is the best investment.
Should I buy a flat or a house – the pros and cons
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Many prefer the convenience and flexibility of living in a flat, whereas others prefer the long-term security and returns associated with buying a house. As a first time buyer, your options should be based off your finances, as well as the pros and cons above to see which is better suited to your situation.
Should I buy a flat or house for investment?
If you’re looking for an investment opportunity rather than a family home, you will need to look at different factors before deciding on whether a flat or house is best, including:
Returns on investment
Buying a flat or a house is a significant investment, so naturally, you’ll want to ensure that you maximise your potential returns.
With a house, you can add value to the property with renovations, extensions, and conversions. However, with a flat, your renovation options are more limited. On the other hand, they typically have a lower purchase price than houses and the costs of maintaining the building is shared, so there is potential for high cash returns and yields. There may also be a bigger rental market for flats which would increase the likelihood of a regular income.
If you opt for a flat rather than a house, your initial purchase costs will be lower. However, you will need to pay ground rent and service charges. With a house, you have a higher potential for capital growth in the long run, but it is typically a larger investment with high initial costs to go with it – including many ’hidden’ extra costs associated with buying a house.
If you’re looking to start a property portfolio, flats tend to be cheaper to buy, so it’s easy to build up a portfolio and spread your risk over a number of properties. Alternatively, if you can only afford to buy one or two homes, you increase your risk as an empty house can significantly reduce your income and increase costs.
How to buy a house (or a flat) in the UK
If you’re looking to save up for your first home, you might be interested in a Lifetime ISA (LISA). With a LISA, the government will give you a 25% bonus of whatever you invest (up to £4000 per year), getting you off to a great start. Check out our blog section for even more first-time buyer tips.
Here’s how we can help
Regardless of whether you’re looking for a new house or a new flat, our specialist solicitors here at ET Law have the expertise and experience to help you make your first investment a sound one.
We have offices in both Warrington and Manchester, so we’re ideally placed to help you get one foot on the property ladder, wherever you are in the UK. From carrying out property-specific checks to providing our legal advice and expertise, contact us today to get a helping hand from our conveyancing team. Fill in our contact form and one of our experts will be in touch shortly, or if you prefer you can call us on 0161 865 2673.