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So you’re a first time buyer looking for your first home; perhaps you’re a second time buyer or possibly someone looking for somewhere to retire. Whatever your position, there is a wide variety of residential properties you can buy in the UK – and different ownership structures to look at.

It is not just a case of buying 100% of the bricks and mortar of a house or flat. There are various options available to you. 

Here is a quick rundown of the main possibilities.

1. New or old

Perhaps your foremost decision is whether to go for a new property or a second hand or old property.

Generally, old properties carry a higher price tag, especially if they have characterful period features such as high ceilings, cornicing and attractive fireplaces which are much sought after.

In some parts of the country – especially in city centres where large residential blocks are springing up faster than ever – new properties are plentiful and possibly all that’s on offer.

New homes have the advantage of being new, energy efficient, freshly decorated and packed with new appliances and fixtures and fittings.

However it is often said a new property is significantly more expensive than an equivalent second hand property due to the addition of the developer’s premium or profit.

Often older properties retain their value better, and in some areas seem to rise faster when house prices are on the up. 


2. House or flat

If you buy a house you will usually get a freehold title, enabling you and your family or successors to use and enjoy the property forever.

If you buy a flat you will usually get a leasehold title, giving you and your family or successors the right to use and occupy the property for the length of the lease or the number of years it has left to run. Lease are typically 99 or 125 years in length. Clearly a leasehold title is not as attractive as a freehold.

You will normally have to pay an annual ground rent plus a service charge for insurance of the building and maintenance and repairs of the external parts and communal areas.

When buying a new house, you may be offered a leasehold title. Such properties may be less marketable going forward due to the fact that houses normally benefit from a freehold title.

Before deciding to buy a house with a leasehold title, you should engage a solicitor to carefully consider and assess the lease and its rights and obligations.

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3. Full share or part share

Normally when you buy a property, you will buy 100% of it. However, especially if you are a first time buyer, you may qualify to buy a shared ownership house or flat – on a leasehold basis – with the right to buy a share as low as 25%.

In most cases, you will have the right to purchase a further percentage up to 100% at a later date.

Shared ownership is only available to qualifying buyers and only in respect of properties offered on a shared ownership basis by organisations empowered to do so by the government as part of its drive to increase home ownership.


4. Bungalow

A true bungalow is a single-storey house, detached or semi detached,

with all the living accommodation on one level – similar to a flat.

A chalet or dormer bungalow typically has another storey of living accommodation in the roof space.

Because of the absence of stairs, true bungalows are especially sought after by senior citizens. However, because of their large rooms and large plot size (typically), bungalows appeal to many homeowners including people with children.

As a rule, bungalows tend to be more expensive than equivalent accommodation with stairs for a number of reasons – including their relative scarcity compared to other forms of accommodation.

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5. Park homes or lodges

Park homes or lodges are single storey accommodation on private residential parks which will have their own distinctive characteristics and “community feel”.

Residential parks are usually restricted to people 55 or over.   

The homes are static, unlike mobile caravans, and when you buy a home you purchase the property not the land on which it is situated. For that reason, park homes are often a cheaper option than a traditional house where you own the land and building.   


6. Mobile homes or caravans

There are residential parks which will allow you to live on the park in your own mobile home or caravan for up to 12 months in a year – giving you permanent residency including the right to get on the electoral roll.

You pay “pitch fees” for the right to stay in the park. 

With holiday parks, as distinct from residential parks, you are not allowed to live on the park all year in your mobile home. Holiday parks are normally open for a maximum of 9-11 months in a year.   

7. House boats or barges

You can buy a suitable house boat, barge or the like to live on. You can moor for free using temporary moorings, but for a permanent mooring you will need to pay fees.

If your accommodation is not luxury, the lifestyle may be anywhere from tough to harsh and the cost of maintenance and repairs may offset the relatively low cost of a modest boat compared to a traditional house or flat.   

An expensive boat may rival if not exceed the cost of traditional accommodation and therefore boat living is not necessarily a cheaper option in every instance.   

Have you ever owned and lived in a non-mainstream home? What were your experiences? Please leave your comments below.


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Dalton Barrett
Rebel Property Coach

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  1. I wanted to thank you for helping me learn more about residential properties. I actually didn’t know that some people can buy a shared ownership of a house if the properties offer it. Perhaps it could be good to see what the details or rules are with a shared ownership, especially if you are considering it.

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