It’s no secret that when compared to houses, recently flats often seem to be falling… well, flat, on the property market. There are many factors contributing to this fall in popularity, including changes in regulations, cladding issues and the ‘race for space’ that occurred during the pandemic. However, it’s not all bad for those looking to sell an apartment – there are ways you can make your property more appealing in this challenging market – and with such disparity between property supply and demand in the wider market, the appeal of apartments is on the rise, making now a great time to list your apartment for sale. In this piece, we’ll be providing our best advice for understanding the common selling challenges for apartments, and the solutions to these issues to help put your buyer’s mind at ease and get you ‘sold’!
Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, after which it was discovered that many apartment buildings had been constructed with cladding that does not meet fire safety regulations, it can be more challenging to secure a mortgage without an EWS1 certificate to confirm that the building is fire safe. Where possible, you should seek to obtain an EWS1 form when selling your apartment, which is a document stating that the cladding on the apartment in question poses no fire hazard and is thereby a low-risk purchase, this will make it much easier for any potential buyers to secure a mortgage and remove some of the hassle form the sales process. For properties that cannot obtain the aforementioned form, not all hope is lost: these apartments can still be sold, although only to those who are happy to take on the risk and have sufficient cash funds to purchase the property outright without the potential refusion of a mortgage lender to provide the funds.
Although you may selling your apartment for a reasonable price, you may find that your listing gathers little interest if your ground rent and service charges are extortionate. Owners of some leasehold properties have seen their ground rents increase dramatically and, if they decide to sell their property as a result of these costs, they have found that most purchasers are deterred by the increase in ground rent.
In the same vein, annual service charges may be off-putting to purchasers, especially if they do not believe the service charge represents good value for money. For example, those working from home may find the idea of a concierge service redundant, as they will always be home to receive their post. Additionally, those with existing gym memberships may not be impressed by the likely high service charge for workout facilities within their apartment block. If the building has not been maintained well and the service charge is high this can also throw into question what the buyer is actually paying for and damage the sale. It is therefore important to convey good value for money when selling your apartmentapart. Here are a few ideas:
Apartments are typically leasehold properties, meaning that apartment owners do not own the plot that the property sits on. In leasehold properties, each unit will have a lease length, which indicates how long the owner has to live within the property at the behest of the leaseholder – although this sounds overly formal and intimidating, the crux of the scenario is that the longer your lease length, the more desirable your property and the simpler it will be when selling your apartment. If your lease has fewer than seventy years remaining, you may struggle to find a buyer as mortgage lenders tend to refuse to fund a property purchase with such a short lease. What’s more, if your lease has around eighty years remaining, you may struggle to find a buyer as they will find it difficult to sell the property onwards in five to ten years, making short-lease properties unappealing to investors. We therefore encourage our clients to consider a lease extension prior to listing their property on the market.
Although we are loath to talk about the pandemic, it’s evident that lockdown amplified our desire to spend time outdoors. With our daily ventures out into the fresh air being limited for so many months, purchasers are now on the search for their own outdoor space. However, apartments rarely offer purchasers their own personal garden, leading many to rule out purchasing a flat. To combat this, Centrick advises sellers to centre their property listing on what features the unit has, rather than what features the property lacks, in order to make successfully selling your apartment more likely. Make sure to mention nearby parks and coffee shops and express the value of the communal spaces that your development offers, especially if this includes outdoor communal spaces.
Similarly, many prospective purchasers may worry that they cannot make alterations to their apartment in the same way as a house. It’s commonplace for many new homeowners to consider knocking down a wall or two in their desire to create a modern, open-plan space, but the structural integrity of an entire apartment block might be forsaken if this was attempted at a flat. Similarly, replacing doors and windows may be no easy feat in an apartment – to avoid this becoming a problem, make sure to highlight how high-quality the existing features of your apartment are. Purchasers should feel comforted in the knowledge that their new home is life-proof and will stand the test of time and it should be made clear to them from the outset which features could be customised to make them feel at home.
Selling your apartment is no easy feat, which is why Centrick’s team of experts are here to help. Our award-winning sales team can help you overcome your selling obstacles to achieve a successful sale – get in touch with us using the form below to see how Centrick can get you on the road to ‘sold’.
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