Freehold Versus Leasehold Properties – What Are The Differences?

So, you are ready to make an investment and get your first home. You are ready to get on the property ladder, whether this is your first home or you are pushing to become a landlord. If you have already dealt with properties, you might be familiar with jargon terms and specifications when it comes to properties. But if you are completely new, you may need to research a few details.

Now, when searching for properties, you will notice that some of them carry the freehold tag, while others bring in a leasehold status. Even your bank or mortgage adviser will ask about these things. But then, what do they really mean? What kind of responsibilities do they come with and how can they affect your property?

Understanding what freehold means

A property freeholder owns everything about it. The freeholder owns the actual building, as well as the land that the house is built on. If you are after a freehold, it means you need to maintain the land as well – so you have to consider these costs as well. Many houses on the market are freehold, but you can also find leasehold alternatives.

Getting a freehold property comes with some advantages. For example, you will never have to worry about extending the lease – what if it runs out? You do not need to deal with the freeholder and you do not have to pay for it – most commonly, the associated costs involve paying rent for the land and charges for different services.

Understanding what leasehold means

A leasehold is different, meaning you only own the property for a specific period of time – the length of the lease agreement. When the lease is over, you can try to extend it – otherwise, ownership returns to the freeholder. To help you understand, many flats are sold as leasehold. You own the property, but there is no stake in the building it belongs to.

When buying a leasehold property, you practically take over from the previous owner. Make sure you know upfront how many years are left on the lease. Think about budgeting for related costs as well, not to mention the reselling value. Now, you should know that leasehold land usually belongs to large developers or local councils, so you should not worry about someone changing their mind overnight.

Is there a middle solution?

Owning a share of freehold is relatively simple. For instance, you can do it by gathering with other leaseholders in a block of flats and buying a share. For this procedure to work, you need to gather at least half of the leaseholders – otherwise, it will not work. This option provides some extra control and allows you to manage costs in an easier manner.

On the same note, owning a share of freehold will also give you the opportunity to extend the lease later on – you can go up to 999 years. You will need to serve a notice to the actual landlord. But then, the price might be expensive. Plus, you will have to establish a company with other leaseholders for the building management – or you can find a property management company to do it for you.

Bottom line, understanding the differences between freehold and leasehold companies is definitely a plus. Most people will clearly try to find a freehold property, as they get to skip the hassle and potential headaches associated with leasehold properties. But on the other hand, leasehold properties tend to cost a bit less, so they make a good choice for those with limited possibilities in terms of their deposits or mortgage deals.

Help to Buy

Understanding The Help To Buy Scheme Run By The Government

The help to buy scheme is run by the government and aims to help first time home buyers. It is not suitable for those who have already had a mortgage in the past – it is not even worth trying. But assuming you are finally ready to get over renting and buy your own home, this scheme will run until 2023 – and chances are it will be extended later on, as it has happened before.

The scheme aims to help new buyers overcome the biggest problem in buying a home – saving the money for a deposit. When most of your income goes to rent, you will obviously struggle. In a world where most lenders ask for 10% to 15% as a deposit, the scheme will let you bring in 5% only. You can also borrow 20% to 40% of the property without an interest rate for the first five years.

How the help to buy scheme works

The help to buy scheme from the government provides access to an equity loan. Basically, the government will give you the money to get a home. There are a few conditions though. First, the property must be brand new. Second, it should be your own residence – you cannot use it for a second home and you cannot let it out. For something like that you would need to take out a regular loan (even with bad credit) or traditional mortgage.

The deposit is set to 5%, meaning it is more doable than what lenders ask for. You can then borrow 20% of the purchase price without paying interest for the first five years. If you live in London, you can borrow 40% of the purchase price, as properties tend to be more expensive in the capital. Based on where you live, there might be some more limitations.

For example, each area has some restrictions regarding the maximum price of the property. If you live in the north east, the property price should not exceed £186,100. On the other hand, prices for London are set to £600,000. Obviously, these limits are likely to change overtime, so it is always worth checking before actually looking for properties and making an application.

There are other differences based on which part of the UK you live in too. The help to buy scheme is available in England only. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own varieties of this scheme too. However, there are more differences between them – make sure you go for the area you live in to avoid delays.

How the equity loan works

Assuming you have the 5% needed for your new home, the government will give you 20% or 40% (only available for London) of the sale price. The rest – anywhere between 55% and 75% – will come from a mortgage lender. It could be your bank or a different lender – it pays off seeking advice from a mortgage lender before making a decision.

The equity loan has no interest for five years. Then, you will have to pay 1.75%. Starting with the sixth year, your payments will change again – it will depend on the CPI (Consumer Price Index). You have to pay the equity loan after 25 years. You will have to do it faster should you decide to sell the home. You must pay back the same percentage of the selling price as the first equity loan.

In conclusion, the help to buy scheme is excellent for first time buyers who struggle saving the money for a deposit. Even if you are good with your savings, it still pays off paying no interest for five years, so the scheme is still profitable – regardless of your status.