What you need to know when buying a flat or apartment

Making a first-time property purchase or moving home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. With more and more people being forced to rent, those who have access to a mortgage will realise that this is a privilege in the current market and so will be keen to ensure they make no mistakes.

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Firstly, location is key. Buyers will often have an idea of the area they wish to live. Local amenities such as schools and health professionals, or maybe the buzz of the area for socialising. When buying, the potential for added value through alterations or simply the location may be key and in a vibrant market this is a major consideration.

Although London is a prohibitive market for many purchasers, other areas across the country are also showing marked appreciation in prices. Buy a flat in Cheltenham and you will find that property rose more rapidly than in any other part of the UK in 2017, according to the Halifax.

A reliable local agent will help in your search rather than trawling through internet pages, so rely on the professionals, with agents such as http://www.completepropertygroup.co.uk/property-sales/.

Buyers will fall into two categories, buy-to-let or buy to live in. For the latter, you will be competing with investors and downsizers, making the market even more competitive.

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The first issue is to check the block you are moving into. For buyers who intend to live in the property, you will not want to choose a flat surrounded by buy-to-let properties. These will mean more wear and tear on the common areas which you may bear shared responsibility for the upkeep. Which floor you are on is also crucial. Mid-floor apartments can be noisier, whereas ground floor, possibly with a garden or top floor may be more expensive but have their benefits. For most buyers, car parking will also be an issue. It may be dedicated parking, permit parking or just potluck on the street outside.

Buying off-plan is an attractive option if you get in early. The potential for the property to increase in price even before it is completed is one of the plusses. Expect high-pressure sales techniques however. The show flat may not look like your purchase unless you agree to high-grade finishes.

Finally, check leasehold or freehold options.

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