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  • FIRST POST
    Fly Baby
    Would you buy a maisonette?
    • #1
    • 18th Jun 10, 3:15 PM
    Would you buy a maisonette? 18th Jun 10 at 3:15 PM
    Well, it is finally happening - after years of renting we are finally looking for a house to buy. So being FTBs, this is where the MSEs' expertise comes forward - I really need a second opinion guys.

    I have seen a house which I sort of liked - great catchment area, walking distance to one of the best primary schools and the best secondary school. Four bedrooms (or rather three bedrooms and a study), two bathrooms, generous-sized lounge, really, really great garden! BUT:

    It is a maisonette, i.e. the property is split-level over the 1st and 2nd floor, and somebody else lives on the ground floor. Still, it has a private entrance and a private garden. In order to get to your 1st floor you climb a narrow flight of steps.

    Plus it is close to a major road (it is a secluded cul-de-sac but you can hear the busy traffic in the garden).

    It costs approx. the same as 3-bed semi-detached houses cost in the area and even a bit more than some - 3-bed semis are what we were looking for but I am dazzled with the garden and the good area (although I am only looking for properties in this area anyway)...

    Opinions?
Page 2
  • Fire Fox
    I've lived in a few and I'd never buy one. Still haven't decided if it's worse to live on the ground floor or the second floor though. Either way it strongly increases the chance of a bad neighbour making your life unbearable.

    I left the last one because it was impossible to get a nights sleep when the neighbours kids were allowed to run riot until the early hours of the morning.

    The one I moved into had neighbours above that left a dog on it's own through out the night, so again no sleep. Eventually they moved out before I did.

    If you live above someone you feel the need to tip toe all the time, you know the people below can hear everything you're doing. When I was in bed with a girlfriend it was difficult to enjoy yourself because you're very aware the neighbours are in bed right below you.

    Now I'm renting a ground floor maisonette I have cardboard sticking in several doors to stop them rattling when someone walks through the flat above. If their washing machine or bathroom floods, then my kitchen or bathroom gets flooded too.

    One of the worst thing about the place I live in is that the bathroom window looks out onto the yard belonging to the flat above. This makes using the toilet very awkward when the neighbours are in their yard.
    Originally posted by Guitar
    A lot of this depends on the structure of the building. If it's a Victorian conversion with no soundproofing then you are going to feel like you are back in your student house. Some blocks attract buy-to-let investors, some attract young professionals and some attract families - there tends to be less bad behaviour with professional owner-occupiers.

    My block is a sixties office conversion with concrete floors, very solid construction and I am on a middle floor. I hear very little of my neighbours barring the occasional party, frankly it's better than some houses I have lived in! My parents block is a converted mill, again very solid construction and they have had no issues with noise in fourteen years. Many long leases do not allow pets, and there is Environmental Health for a persistent noisy neighbour.
    What a difference a day makes, twenty four little hours.
  • Eric1
    It costs approx. the same as 3-bed semi-detached houses cost in the area and even a bit more than some
    Originally posted by Fly Baby
    Overpriced. It really shouldn't. Not even a shared freehold...

    P.S. I'd still buy it at the right price, probably the average 3-bed semi minus 20%
    Last edited by Eric1; 18-06-2010 at 11:00 PM.
  • breadlinebetty
    You can't discount a flat or maisonette just becasue they're not a house. Some houses can be worse for noise, neighbours, privacy, being overlooked etc than some maisonettes or flats are.

    In pasrts of London (even Belgravia) there's thousands of flats and masionettes that sell for millions!

    Just cos a house is a house doesn't mean to say it's better. You can have bad next door neighbours who make terrible noise night and day, they can usually see into your garden from their top windows, and some houses are actually leasehold believe it or not.

    It's not a good idea to buy a short leasehold but, although some leases are simply peppercorn rents of a few quid a year. The current owners have the right to buy the freehold so I suggest you ask them to that - they can buy the freehold to the whole property if the neighbour isn't interested in buying.

    Upstairs or downstairs maisonettes are usually quiet due to the building layout. Very often you won't hear the people upstairs or downstairs at all. Providing you have good solid doors, insulation, double glazing, carpeting etc you shouldn't hear a sound. You occasionally hear about neighbours from hell, but most neighbours are considerate you'll find. You can have awful neighbours living next door to you, or fab ones, and that applies to flats and maisonettes. You'll find most people in maisonettes don't want to cause trouble and reap the repercussions and they want a quiet life as much as you do. Buyers are usually much more aware of this than renters are, but as I say, next door neighbours can be loud, play blaring music, rev cars, shout, bang doors ets...it's much rarer for civilsed people sharing the same building to behave that way.

    Some maisonettes and flats sell for more (proportionately) than houses do. For example, a 3 bed maisonette in the same street as a 3 bed house may fetch, say, 390 while the house will only fetch about 430. In real terms maisonettes are actually dearer.
  • Eric1
    You can't discount a flat or maisonette just becasue they're not a house. Some houses can be worse for noise, neighbours, privacy, being overlooked etc than some maisonettes or flats are.
    ..
    Some maisonettes and flats sell for more (proportionately) than houses do. For example, a 3 bed maisonette in the same street as a 3 bed house may fetch, say, 390 while the house will only fetch about 430. In real terms maisonettes are actually dearer.
    Originally posted by breadlinebetty
    Yes, some flats are better than houses. In my area, there are 2-bed flats that sell for more than some 3-bed houses, but those flats are shared freehold.
    If there is no dire shortage of average or good freehold properties for the same price, why would anyone buy a leasehold? Perhaps some buyers do not understand all the complications. For me, the potential headache is worth about 20%
  • Twood
    I agree that flats and maisonettes can be much nicer than houses on at the same price but thats because in my opinion, to some degree they are not entirely yours. You would have to check the details but certainly in the flat I used to live in I was given so many rules and regulations about parking, when to change windows and how they must look and even the flooring that I was allowed in my own flat. The other thing is when you come to sell the process is very much more complicated and long winded and even more out of your control than a normal house sale.

    I am not saying choose the house over the maisonette but I do think you would be better off being fully informed about what it can mean so you can make the best decision for you!
  • gabyjane
    Hi i used to live in a 3 bed maisonette and have to say it was much bigger than normal 3 bed houses. We had an elderly man below us so never hreard a thing but you should find out who is below you..it is a bit like living in a flat.
    Also from buying a town house and having the stairs to contend with i would think of the difficulties of moving certain things in? ours is new so the doors are bigger than standard due to disability rules and fine apart from our huuuge fridge! but something to think about.
    Lease? again you need to find out.
    I liked ours though and like i said big, i would certainly look at buying one though.
    Good luck x
  • Fly Baby
    Hi i used to live in a 3 bed maisonette and have to say it was much bigger than normal 3 bed houses. We had an elderly man below us so never hreard a thing but you should find out who is below you..it is a bit like living in a flat.
    Also from buying a town house and having the stairs to contend with i would think of the difficulties of moving certain things in? ours is new so the doors are bigger than standard due to disability rules and fine apart from our huuuge fridge! but something to think about.
    Lease? again you need to find out.
    I liked ours though and like i said big, i would certainly look at buying one though.
    Good luck x
    Originally posted by gabyjane

    Thanks for your post gabyjane!

    It is indeed a very generous size. The door frames look standard though and I too have reservations about moving in furniture but currently it is fully furnished and the fridge in the kitchen is huge! So they had to get it in somehow - hence I should be able to also.

    I have in fact met the downstairs neighbour - a very lovely middle-aged lady who lives there with her husband.
  • Strapped
    No, nope, never. Have lived in one, know several people who own them, and it takes one noisy downstairs neighbour to ruin your life, plus you have to haul shopping upstairs, and with kids it's hard to keep an eye on them. Go for the semi and extend/convert a garage later if you have to.
  • Metranil Vavin
    We live in a big 3 bed Victorian maisonette and it's fab.

    We have a large private garden accessable from our kitchen down a flight of stairs, a large master bedroom and 2 smaller ones. Massive open plan kitchen and a large reception room with lovely high ceilings and fireplace.

    Our neighbours downstairs are lovely, and we never really hear them. Maybe the occasional voice if they have people over.

    Our lease is over 950 years too, so effectively a share of freehold.

    I suppose we've been lucky, but from my experience here, I'd recommend it. It's certainly larger internally than a lot of our friends houses.
    Metranil dreams of becoming a neon,
    You don't even take him seriously,
    How am I going to get to heaven?,
    When I'm just balanced so precariously..
  • Katgrit
    ... yep, never heard an estate agent saying "it's been on months and i can't get rid of it.."
    Originally posted by wymondham
    Believe or not I did had this exact thing happen yesterday!! I phoned to ask about a house I'd previously offered on, but it got refused at the time as my house wasn't on the market yet. And yesterday I asked if they had much interest since and the woman said "No, we've had no interest at all, I'll just check" and shouted over to someone else who replied "None whatsoever, oh no actually we had that one girl with the house...". I pointed out that was me. Ha ha ha. Mind you, this is the same estate agent who got in his car to drive off without locking up a vacant property I'd viewed AND then accidentally forwarded on other peoples offers to me by email.
  • Fly Baby
    We live in a big 3 bed Victorian maisonette and it's fab.

    We have a large private garden accessable from our kitchen down a flight of stairs, a large master bedroom and 2 smaller ones. Massive open plan kitchen and a large reception room with lovely high ceilings and fireplace.

    Our neighbours downstairs are lovely, and we never really hear them. Maybe the occasional voice if they have people over.

    Our lease is over 950 years too, so effectively a share of freehold.

    I suppose we've been lucky, but from my experience here, I'd recommend it. It's certainly larger internally than a lot of our friends houses.
    Originally posted by Metranil Vavin

    Thank you very much - it is good to hear positive feedback.

    The maisonette in question does have a pretty good living/dining room and a large garden. On the downside, it is close to the main road so you can hear the noise all the time when in the garden.

    The current lease is 78 years as I posted earlier and the EA is asking the owner if they will be willing to pay to have it extended.

    It is a share of freehold but apparently, not just with the downstairs neighbour but also with 5 other properties nearby. So 6 more people will have a say in what I can do with the maisonette (in case I do want to do anything of course).

    I would not describe this maisonette as fab - it is fine, I suppose. The internal area is bigger than most houses but then it is more expensive than many houses I have viewed.

    My husband didn't like the fact that it is in fact a flat - he prefers to be the only one responsible for his house and his land. And doesn't like having neighbours downstairs. And the noise from the 70 mph main road being very close to the house (even though it is in a cul-de-sac).
  • beverleyhills
    Upstairs maisonette
    Pros:
    More secure. Today, the hottest day of the year, we have all the windows open without having to worry.
    Tends to be warmer in the winter than the downstairs property.
    Possible access to loft space for extra storage or space.
    View can be better.
    We have more space than local two bedroom bungalows.

    Cons:
    Parking can be an issue.
    Carrying shopping upstairs.
    Taking white goods and furniture up the stairs. Check out what furniture the present occupants have. Can you assess the windows to get furnitue in and out. Once DH had to insist that a kitchen company hire a tower to get a kitchen work top in, instead of cutting it.
    Posties don't always give enough time for occuppant to answer the door.
    Neighbours do move. New neighbours can present problems over space and what is acceptable noise.
    It takes more effort to go out to the garden in the winter.

    What is required of you to repair the roof, gutters and fascias and drains?

    Lease definitely needs sorting.
    'You can't change the past, you can only change the future' Gary Boulet.

    'Show me the person who never makes a mistake and I'll show you the person who never makes anything'. Anon
  • Thermidor
    Thank you very much - it is good to hear positive feedback.

    The maisonette in question does have a pretty good living/dining room and a large garden. On the downside, it is close to the main road so you can hear the noise all the time when in the garden.

    The current lease is 78 years as I posted earlier and the EA is asking the owner if they will be willing to pay to have it extended.

    It is a share of freehold but apparently, not just with the downstairs neighbour but also with 5 other properties nearby. So 6 more people will have a say in what I can do with the maisonette (in case I do want to do anything of course).

    I would not describe this maisonette as fab - it is fine, I suppose. The internal area is bigger than most houses but then it is more expensive than many houses I have viewed.

    My husband didn't like the fact that it is in fact a flat - he prefers to be the only one responsible for his house and his land. And doesn't like having neighbours downstairs. And the noise from the 70 mph main road being very close to the house (even though it is in a cul-de-sac).
    Originally posted by Fly Baby

    I'm confused: you said the maisonette has a 78 year lease, and then said you have a share of the freehold? It's either one or the other.

    As for the location of the property, houses/flats/maisonettes can all be next to a main road. Location is incidental to your problem surely?

    By the way, buying a freehols property does not give you carte blanche to do as you wish on the land your property is built on - you'll still need planning permission if you wish to build or extend. Having said that, some houses are so small and pokey, like little rabbit hutches with gardens the size of postage stamps that you probably couldn't erect a garden shed in it!
  • Thermidor
    Upstairs maisonette
    Pros:
    More secure. Today, the hottest day of the year, we have all the windows open without having to worry.
    Tends to be warmer in the winter than the downstairs property.
    Possible access to loft space for extra storage or space.
    View can be better.
    We have more space than local two bedroom bungalows.

    Cons:
    Parking can be an issue.
    Carrying shopping upstairs.
    Taking white goods and furniture up the stairs. Check out what furniture the present occupants have. Can you assess the windows to get furnitue in and out. Once DH had to insist that a kitchen company hire a tower to get a kitchen work top in, instead of cutting it.
    Posties don't always give enough time for occuppant to answer the door.
    Neighbours do move. New neighbours can present problems over space and what is acceptable noise.
    It takes more effort to go out to the garden in the winter.

    What is required of you to repair the roof, gutters and fascias and drains?

    Lease definitely needs sorting.
    Originally posted by beverleyhills

    If it's a downstairs maisonette you have no stairs to climb.

    Parking can be an issue anywhere.

    Neighbours can cause problems anywhere, whether it be downstairs/upstairs or in the house next door or across the road. The only way to assure that you'll have no problems with neighbours is to buy a detached property - and with a lot of land surrounding it at that.

    Both upstairs and downstairs owners are responsible for the whole building. So roof, gutters, brickwork, fencing, gate, frontage, drains etc which need repairs are paid for 50/50 by all owners. Some co-owners pay a small amount each month into a fund to cover these costs.
  • Fly Baby
    I'm confused: you said the maisonette has a 78 year lease, and then said you have a share of the freehold? It's either one or the other.

    As for the location of the property, houses/flats/maisonettes can all be next to a main road. Location is incidental to your problem surely?

    By the way, buying a freehols property does not give you carte blanche to do as you wish on the land your property is built on - you'll still need planning permission if you wish to build or extend. Having said that, some houses are so small and pokey, like little rabbit hutches with gardens the size of postage stamps that you probably couldn't erect a garden shed in it!
    Originally posted by Thermidor

    Re leasehold: that's what the agent told me. First - that it is a share of freehold with 6 other neighbours. Then - that it is a leasehold of 78 years (with the neighbours still standing as having a share).

    I would never buy a small and pokey house (although I rented a small and pokey flat) - we have been saving for a while to get a decent property so are in no rush of buying just for the sake of it. Will keep looking for one that feels like home.
  • Fly Baby
    There is no issue of parking - it even has a garage and a place on the driveway.
  • Thermidor
    Re leasehold: that's what the agent told me. First - that it is a share of freehold with 6 other neighbours. Then - that it is a leasehold of 78 years (with the neighbours still standing as having a share).

    I would never buy a small and pokey house (although I rented a small and pokey flat) - we have been saving for a while to get a decent property so are in no rush of buying just for the sake of it. Will keep looking for one that feels like home.
    Originally posted by Fly Baby



    It's either freehold or leasehold - it can't be both!
  • Fly Baby
    It's either freehold or leasehold - it can't be both!
    Originally posted by Thermidor
    Thanks for this!

    I spoke to the EA today. She said that it is a share of freehold, but because there are 6 other properties involved, the term of lease still applies - and it is 78 years long.

    Could it be that she doesn't know what she is talking about?
  • ET1976
    Have a look at this thread:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/....php?t=2560195

    Thermidor is not entirely correct - it can be leasehold but at the same time have a share of the freehold.
  • madeupname1
    ET1976 is right (but I didn't check his/her link).

    I own a maisonette. There are two maisonettes in the building. The freehold is jointly owned by myself together with the owner of the other maisonette in the building (in other words we each own a share of the freehold). Acting together as freeholders we grant each other an lease to occupy our own respective maisonettes. I therefore have a lease for my maisonette (and she has a lease for hers).
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