8th August 2017
What’s the first thing you look for when viewing property listings? The cost? The area? The available space?
How about whether the property is a freehold or leasehold? This may seem like a technicality, but it could make a huge difference to your experience as a homeowner.
Whereas with a freehold you own a property outright, leasehold agreements have certain restrictions, allowing you long-term residence in a property that’s technically still owned by a landlord.
While you may have an initial and obvious preference, there are benefits and challenges involved with both approaches. Our property experts have cut through the jargon to help you decide which option is best for you.
Purchasing a freehold property means that you possess the building and the land it’s on until the property is sold again, or passed on in a will.
This option allows for complete peace of mind as to your rights regarding the property: all maintenance is your responsibility, and with proper planning permission and buildings regulation consent, you can make any changes to your home that you like.
Because a freehold purchase gives you ownership not only of your house or flat, but also of the land it’s on, you’ll be exempt from paying ground rent. That means once your mortgage is paid off, your property won’t incur any ongoing costs. This is brilliant news for people looking for an asset that can be passed down through the generations.
A freehold property does come with a certain onus, however: by completing purchase of a freehold property, you become legally and financially responsible for making any necessary repairs to the building’s structure, throughout your possession of it.
The majority of houses, and some flats, are sold freehold. This is often a preferable option for families looking for a home that will grow with them.
In comparison, many flats for sale are offered as leasehold properties, which in essence form a long-term lease from a freeholder. This arrangement can cost less than a freehold property up front, though there may be extra costs later down the line.
A length of lease will be agreed as part of the sale negotiation, and can range from several decades to centuries. A common length of leasehold is 999 years, which makes the initial transaction seem indiscernible from buying a property outright.
However, your rights and responsibilities as a leaseholder differ in a few significant ways to those you would exercise as a freeholder.
As the land that your property sits on - and in many cases the block of flats that it’s a part of - are not part of the agreement, you will normally have to pay ongoing ‘ground rent’ to the freeholding landlord.
As maintenance of the property and any common areas around it are not solely your responsibility, an annual service fee may need to be paid to cover these costs. Your landlord may also ask you to cover a part of the building’s insurance. This needs to be taken into account when you consider your budget for buying a property.
You will also need to seek permission from the landlord between making major changes such as renovations or extensions to your property.
When considering a leasehold property, it’s important to check how many years of lease you’re taking on. Properties with less than 90 years remaining start to depreciate in the market, and banks are less willing to issue mortgages on leases with less than 80 years. However, after 2 years in a property, you have the right to extend its lease by a further 90 years.
Consider how long you want to live in a property, and ensure that your lease doesn’t end before you’re ready to move on.
Another option for leaseholders looking to own their flats in perpetuity is sharing the freehold with all other leaseholders in the building.
This can be negotiated between an association of leaseholders, often taking the form of a private company, and the original freeholder. Once the land and building have been jointly purchased, the owners’ association will handle insurance and maintenance for the building and any grounds.
This means that an annual service fee will still be payable, but each flat owner will have a say in how that is spent. Shared freehold owners are more likely than freehold landlords to seek out the best prices for repairs and services, as they all have a common interest in saving money.
When one of the shared freehold owners decides to sell their property, the new owner will buy it as share of the freehold, accepting the terms and responsibilities of the association as part of the sale agreement.
Deciding between a freehold and leasehold property will depend on your situation and expectations for life as a homeowner.
If you’re keen to have total say over the upkeep of your property, try refining your property search to freeholds only. However, if you don’t mind paying regular fees to a landlord in return for your perfect flat in an ideal location, it may be worth considering leasehold options.
Don’t hesitate to discuss your queries and requirements with one of our friendly property experts. Whether freehold or leasehold, we can’t wait to unite you with your perfect property!
Very thorough & very informative.
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The whole team were excellent, each one of them felt like family. Sharon had a lot of sorting to do at times but coped very well, a true profession...
Mr Vernon Woodingdean
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Mr McBlane Hove
From start to finish the sale was dealt with in a thoroughly professional manner.
Mr Gibbs Lewes Road
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Miss Coleman Buller Road
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Mr Wells Bishops Road
Sharon was excellent, she kept us informed at all stages and was a really calming objective influence in the process.
Ms Frederick Channel View Road
Paula is amazing!
Ms Aspnall Gladstone Place
All agents at Maslen were extremely helpful and polite from the beginning to the completion of sale.
Mr Johnson Fiveways
Outstanding service from Sharon. James is an asset to Maslens & Harvey was so helpful and polite.
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Very impressive - professional and friendly, both Martin Timms and Paula Carter were excellent at keeping in contact with sensible advice based on...
Mrs O'Connor Hove
Sharon and her team could not have done more in what was a difficult sale.
Ms Daly Woodingdean
In February 2016 I was looking to buy and sell very rapidly. Competition among buyers at the time was very high. Sharon @ the Woodingdean branch sh...
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Mr Field Mafeking Road
Sharon, Harvey and James were all excellent - very professional. Totally opposite to what I have experienced with other agents. Maslen have restore...
Ms Lyons Woodingdean
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Mr & Mrs Smith Lewes Road
Paul was absolutely brilliant.
Mrs Tasker Fiveways
As always, an excellent service.
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Mr & Mrs Sawyer Shaftesbury Road
I wish we had used you to sell our property! Nice to meet honest people, who are genuinely interested in helping. Very pleased.
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Mr Alderton Ladysmith Road
I was new to the area and viewed a lot of properties with a lot of different agents. Maslens were by far the best I came in contact with, so when i...
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Mrs Brooker Buller Road
Ben was particularly enthusiastic and helpful. Martin, Paula, Sam and Will are all hard workers.
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Miss New & Mr Jackson Buller Road
Sharon was excellent - kept us well informed, thank you so much!
Ms Waters Cowley Drive
The team worked very hard over a long period to ensure my sale went through - excellent service!
Mr Patrick Gladstone Terrace
Thanks David, all very professional.
Mrs Flowers Foxdown Road
Very good service and communication. Paula was excellent.
Mr & Mrs Scarboro 1 Pevensey Road
A completely painless experience from start to finish. Thank you.
Mr Woolven & Mrs Bessant-Woolven Lewes Road
Compared to your rivals, your service was excellent
Ms McGrigor Milner Road
Graham Griffin provided us, and continues to provide us, will all-round excellent advice. We trust his knowledge and expertise.
Mr Blackmore & Ms O'Sullivan Financial Services
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Mr & Mrs Nuthall Lewes Road
Best Agents in Brighton.
Mrs Field Tarner Road
Excellent customer service throughout. I will definitely recommend you, and use you again. Thank you.
Ms Longley Kingsbury Street
Our local office manager, Sharon Wareham was warm and friendly and kept us up to date at all times.
Mr Hope The Brow
The sale was dealt with swiftly, professionally and successfully. Thank you Maslen!
Mrs Lincoln Hove
Nick and Paula are total stars! They were incredibly supportive and present throughout. Thank you!
Miss O'Haire Hove
Very impressed with the service. Sharon Wareham works tirelessly, very professionally and is always there for advice.
Miss Matthews Kipling Avenue
Very, very happy we chose you, felt right from the start! Thank you!
Miss Blackadder Coniston Court, Holland Road
Ben and Paula were calm and reassuring throughout a very difficult process!
Ms Easterbrook Bear Road
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Mrs Hammond Hove
A very positive experience - I had most contact with the Fiveways office and they were so friendly and helpful.
Ms A King Balfour Road
You were amazingly helpful throughout - a real pillar of strength with a very difficult sale.
Mrs Parkin Fiveways
Extremely efficient. Nick and Paula are excellent. The weekly phone calls were much appreciated.
Ms Gray Lewes Road
A really good experience.
Mr Tibble Lewes Road
Cannot express our appreciation enough of all the efforts made by the Woodingdean team - they were fantastic.
Mr John Mogridge Woodingdean
Paul Wilkinson was extremely helpful and efficient. The only problem was the vendors solicitor and Paul warned me of this. A good transaction all r...
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Ms S Hike Blackthorn Close
First class service from a first class team.
Mr & Mrs English The Ridgway
Best Estate Agents ever experienced - professional, approachable, competent and exemplary.
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We were delighted with the service received from all the staff with whom we had contact,
Dr Crichton The Ridgway
Very helpful and patient team.
Mrs Shea Selborne Place
Excellent service as always
Mr Field Ringmer Road
I found the service to be courteous, friendly and efficient.
Mr Upton Buller Road
Very pleased with the excellent service throughout. Professional, friendly, efficient and no hard sell. Achieved above asking price. Thank you!
Mr Witten Lewes Road
Thank you Paul and Archie, you gave an excellent service, as well as Kelly. I look forward to working with you again.
Mr White Fiveways
Exceptional service throughout the process - should we decide to sell in the future we wouldn't hesitate to use your agency. You're a cut above the...
Ms Windels & Mr Barham Fiveways
A good team at Woodingdean helped us through a stressful time.
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The staff were very helpful, an excellent service. I would recommend you to others.
Miss Hockly Fiveways
A very committed team who made the sale process very easy.
Ms Rees Ticehurst Road
Excellent service from the Lewes Road branch. Martin Timms secured a quick sale & at a good price & Paula Carter worked really hard to secure...
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Maslens as a whole were really friendly and professional. I have to thank and congratulate Paula Carter for being superb at her job and exceeding m...
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Sharon was amazing! She kept us up to date the whole way through the process. We cannot fault Sharon or the rest of her team.
Mr & Mrs Ashley Woodingdean
Paula's role was brilliant. Having someone office based and available was so appreciated and her promptness an impressive service - every Estate Agent...
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Mr & Mrs Knight Woodingdean
Good team. Straightforward. No nonsense.
Mr Standing Newmarket Road
All the staff I dealt with were excellent. Sharon worked really hard to complete the sale.
Mrs Bent Falmer Gardens
Thanks for an excellent service.
Mr King Hove
Thank you Maslens, you were all excellent!
Miss Jasper Taunton Road
Thank you. We found all the staff knowledgeable and really pleasant to deal with.
Ms Ansloos Lewes Road
Very pleased with the experience. I would definitely recommend you and use you again.
Ms D Edmonds Horton Road
The Woodingdean team were very friendly and approachable.
Mrs Palmer Pitt Gardens
I have bought and sold 7 properties, and this was the best experience of an estate agents services I have found.
Mrs Shepherd Hertford Road
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Mr Flynn Woodingdean
Service exceeded my expectations overall at all stages of the process - I wouldn't hesitate to recommend you. Thanks.
Ms Greene Lewes Road
Sold within 2 weeks for asking price "excellent!"
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I would recommend Maslen to anyone.
Mrs Tripp Woodingdean
It was a long, drawn out process that the people at Maslen helped me through, without the impression that it was a chore. So extremely professional...
Mr McLagan Lewes Road
Harvey was helpful and easily reachable at the beginning of the process and Sharon kept us informed and was always happy to help.
Ms Murch & Ms Mapa Ticehurst Road
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Excellent Service from start to finish.
Mr T Mole Cromwell Road
Many thanks to Nick. It was an easy process thanks to you! I'm extremely satisfied with how the sale went, great job.
Ms Mayanobe Aymer Road
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Ms Curtis The Ridgway