How To Check If A Property Is A Maisonette Or A Flat?

Property Is A Maisonette Or A Flat

Thinking of entering the property market in the UK? Even if you’ve lived here forever, you’re likely to get at least a bit confused when you start looking at listings. You’ll see lots of words with which you may not be familiar like leasehold, freehold, semi-detached, flat and maisonette. What is a maisonette, and are they worth buying? After all, given that your property purchase may be one of the most expensive you ever make in your life, understanding just what you’re buying is absolutely key to avoiding an expensive mistake.

Maisonette – Meaning What?

The meaning of maisonette isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. What are maisonettes? The term means different things depending on where you are. What is a maisonette in UK terms? The maisonette means the UK is just a self-contained flat in a bigger building. You have your staircase and entrance, and you typically have more than one floor. Other places call these other things, though. In America, for instance, you won’t hear the word maisonette, but the word duplex instead.

What is a maisonette house? Often people call them maisonette houses because they are sometimes located in large, older properties that have been converted or in the centre of a city that has living spaces above shops.

Ask “What’s a maisonette?” in Scotland, though, and you’ll get a very different answer. Maisonettes in the Scottish property market mean something very different. There, you’re getting an apartment that is split over two storeys. It is accessed from a common entrance. Throughout Europe, the definition may differ. In some cases, you’ll find the term to refer to a small holiday cottage.

Maisonette and Flat – How do the Two Compare?

You may find property listings throughout the UK confusing the term maisonette vs. flat, but they aren’t the same thing. Most flats are several rooms on a single floor. With a maisonette, though, your rooms are spread across more than one floor. In the UK, you’ll also find that a maisonette has its entrance. Wondering with a maisonette, who owns the garden? It’s usually a shared space, but you’ll have complete access to it.

What’s the Difference Between a Maisonette and an Apartment in the UK?

You may also find lots of listings in the UK property market for apartments. These are just luxury-level flats. In some cases, though, they, too, can span multiple floors. Apartments, though, create spaces that are designed for convenient locations and luxury. They’re usually located in desirable parts of the city where it’s tough to find land, and they typically incorporate several luxury features. Maisonettes aren’t always located in those spaces, and they don’t always have luxury features.

How Do Maisonettes and Houses Compare?

The definition of a maisonette doesn’t necessarily mean a house in the UK, but they do tend to have a few different things in common. First, they may have as much square footage as a house does, and often, you’ll find some of the same perks. You can usually find maisonettes with a similar level of privacy as compared to a house, and they are also often a bit safer than a flat as you typically don’t have people wandering the hallways given that they have their entrance.

Many people get the maisonette definition confused with a house because they can also look quite a bit like a home from the outside. Additionally, you may even get access to a garden and a garage, as well as off-street parking. They’re not quite a house, though, because in many cases the garden is a shared space, and typically you can’t just walk out your patio doors to get there. Instead, you’ll usually have to go through a side gate to reach the garden or walk around the back of the property.

Searching for the Right Maisonette

If you think a maisonette might be the way to go, you’re probably ready to start searching with terms like “maisonette for sale”. Where are the best places to look? You’ll want to start with town centres. Often you’ll find lots of maisonette listings in these spaces. If you don’t find them right in the centre of a town, though, you’re likely to find them very near one. They’re usually gathered in spaces where the cost of living is fairly high and housing prices are out of reach for many people. What is a maisonette property stronghold? London, for example, has several different maisonette properties in the surrounding areas.

You may also find several maisonettes for sale near university locations. Student landlords love these kinds of properties because they can usually take one house and convert it into two spaces, taking on more than one tenant at a time and double the rent.

Often just using search terms like “maisonette for sale near me” will help you find close properties you can take a closer look at and decide whether they’re right for you. If you’re not quite sure you’re ready to buy, sometimes you can find a maisonette to rent until you decide whether you like the type of property enough to buy one.

Before You Purchase a Maisonette, Be Sure to Check These Things

If you’re thinking of buying a maisonette, there are a few things you’ll want to consider before you sign the paperwork. First, the one thing you need to know is whether you’re buying a leasehold or a freehold property. A leasehold property sits on borrowed land. You might purchase the maisonette if you buy a leasehold, but you don’t own the ground under it. A freehold property, though, means you’re purchasing both the maisonette and the land it’s sitting on.

There are a few other differences between these kinds of properties, though. What is a maisonette freehold? This purchase means you remain the owner of the home until you decide to sell it yourself or give the title to another person. What’s a maisonette leasehold? It means you own the property for a certain amount of time – say 80 years or more. Once the lease runs out, the ownership of the property goes back to the freeholder. While there are ways to extend that lease, it can create some real headaches down the road.

If you find out the maisonette is a freehold property, it’s important to dig a bit more before you decide to make the purchase. You could only have the maisonette itself, or you could be the freeholder of all the properties in the building.

If you find out the maisonette is a leasehold property, it’s important to note that you’ll be expected to pay ground rent to the freeholder, which could be as high as £100 per year. Fortunately, with a maisonette, you won’t pay the service charge you might with a leasehold flat, as there are usually no common areas.

The second thing to understand with a maisonette purchase is that you’re responsible for several things that you might not be with a flat or an apartment. If you have a first-floor maisonette, you’re responsible for both the roof and the guttering. If you have a ground-floor maisonette, you will be responsible for the foundations themselves. As a maisonette owner, you’re also responsible for the upkeep of any communal areas and the driveway as well as the exterior surfaces (like the cladding).

Are Maisonettes Worth the Price?

What is a maisonette UK buyers typically buy worth? £228,003. That’s far cheaper than the average cost of a home in the UK, which is currently £281,161. Is it worth it? There are many different reasons to consider a maisonette over any other kind of property. First, they can be quite warm and cosy in the face of a bitter UK winter. Because you’ll have some upstairs space, you’ll get heat from the flats downstairs and you’ll have quite a bit of insulation capabilities within your space. If you install double glazing, you’ll be toasty throughout the winter months.

You also have access to a private entrance, which can be a huge bonus for some buyers. You’ll have the privacy you want to enter and leave as you wish, and you don’t have to listen to others entering and leaving as they wish. This is a huge advantage for shift workers or those who simply like to enjoy late weekend nights.

Additionally, they tend to be a bit more secure, and you can even choose to further secure them if you wish. Remember, you’ll have private access, so that could mean additional safety for your package deliveries and there won’t be anyone hanging around your doorstep that you don’t want to hang around there. You could even add some security systems if you’d like to do so.

Maisonettes are often usually far roomier than other kinds of properties. For example, you may get useful loft storage space you wouldn’t with other kinds of properties. Add that to the fact that you can get exterior storage spaces like a garage and other options, and you get just as much space as you might have if you purchased a house with a higher price tag.

Many maisonettes have quite a bit more space than you ever imagined. In many cases, you’ll find as much space as a small house, and often they come at a much smaller price tag, which is another real bonus for many. Because the property market can be so pricey when it comes to the cost of entry, a maisonette is a great starting space, and you can often get one for 25% less than you might pay for a traditional home.

Maybe one of the biggest bonuses for some buyers is that if you purchase a maisonette, you can usually keep pets. Because you’re purchasing the property, you won’t have to worry about getting permission from a landlord to ensure that it’s okay to keep pets. Moreover, because you usually have some outdoor space, you’ll have a place on-site to let your dog play when he needs to run off a little energy.

For as many benefits as a maisonette can provide buyers, though, there are certainly some drawbacks. You’ll want to make sure that any maisonette purchase you make has decent parking. After all, there are some with no off-road parking or a shared driveway, and that can be tough to live in since parking on a residential street is often a nightmare and can end up costing you quite a bit more in insurance.

Maisonettes also aren’t quite right for individuals who may have trouble getting up and down the stairs. Because almost all maisonettes include stairs, if you are older or just have some trouble with stairs, you may do better with another kind of option.

Maisonettes also come with neighbours, and that may be troublesome at times. For example, if you need a lot of quiet space because you have a young child or you’re still in the process of obtaining a degree, maisonettes can often be noisy places because not everyone is a good neighbour. It’s worth it to check out the area several times at different points of the day to understand the noise levels with which you may have to deal daily.

Additionally, you may be fairly limited on what renovations you can make to your home. While you will likely own the maisonette itself, you don’t get the benefit of permitted development rights. Instead, you’ll need careful planning permissions for all kinds of work on your property, and you’re more likely to be rejected by the council if you want certain kinds of things done to your property that could affect the property of your neighbours.

Maisonette Financing

If you do decide a maisonette might be right for you, getting financing on this type of property isn’t as easy as obtaining financing on other kinds of properties, whether it’s a leasehold or a freehold. You’ll want to speak extensively with a few different kinds of buyers before you make this property purchase to decide whether it’s right for you and whether you can get the money you’ll need to purchase it.

Keep in mind that a maisonette, just like any other property purchase, is subject to stamp duty land tax, so you’ll need to set aside the funds to cover that and the purchase price of the property.

How Do You Decide if a Maisonette is Right for You?

If you’re considering a maisonette or any other kind of property, the process of making a decision is the same. Start by identifying the area you’d like to be in. Location is everything when you’re making a purchase. You’re going to be spending a lot of time, so if you’re not comfortable with what’s around you like shops and the transport links, it may not be the right spot to meet your needs. Once you’ve found a space where you’d like to live, take a solid look at how much property you can afford. Most mortgage lenders will let you borrow up to three times your gross annual income. Most couples can usually borrow about two and a half times their joint salary. You want to ensure that your repayment amounts, though, aren’t more than about 35% of your annual income. If they are, you won’t be able to afford the property, the upkeep, and the bills associated with the property itself.

Once you know what you can afford, the next step is to make a list of what you might need in a property. How many bedrooms will best suit your needs? How many bathrooms do you need? Are you hoping for other things, too? Knowing what you want before you even begin searching is an absolute must.

The next step is the easy one. Start looking for maisonettes or other properties that meet those requirements in the identified area. You can look online through sites like Rightmove and Zoopla, or you can simply meet with a local estate agent who knows the area and who can help you better identify some properties that might meet your needs. Estate agents can be a great resource if you’re just beginning to explore maisonettes and what purchasing one might mean for you.

Once you find a suitable property – whether it’s a maisonette or something completely different, you’ll want to start evaluating it not just based on the list you made previously, but also on a few other factors as well. First, make sure it’s convenient for your job each day. Make sure, too, that it’s handy for the shops you want to frequent and that it has easy access to other places you’d like to visit like restaurants and parks. If you have kids, take some time to evaluate the local schools to make sure it’s a place you’d like to send your child.

Once you’re sure this is the place for you, the next step is to sit down with a lending professional. Remember that maisonettes often aren’t considered the best option for lenders, so you’ll need to do some searching to find one who can work with you if you’re not a cash buyer. Don’t forget to account for other expenses like stamp duty and the cost of survey professionals.

When you know you have financing in place, the next step is to make an offer on the property. If it’s been on the market for a bit and it hasn’t had very many offers, don’t hesitate to put in an offer that’s lower than the original asking price, as the seller may be motivated to get it off the market fairly quickly.

Once you and the seller agree on the overall price of the property, you’re ready to begin the process of making it happen! You’ll need to meet with a conveyancing solicitor to begin getting things in order, then there will be plenty of professionals to survey and evaluate the property. After you clear all the hoops, though, you can exchange contracts, set your day of completion, and prepare to get excited about the brand-new property you’re buying!

A maisonette is a great choice if you’re interested in that type of property. As with any other property, though, do your due diligence to make sure that it’s the ideal investment to meet your needs and to ensure it’s a property worth buying!

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