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  • FIRST POST
    Gladallover
    Buying a Grade 2 thatched property
    • #1
    • 9th Aug 13, 12:35 PM
    Buying a Grade 2 thatched property 9th Aug 13 at 12:35 PM
    Hello,
    Just looking for some advice on buying our first home.

    After many years of saving my boyfriend and I have finally saved enough of a deposit to start looking at houses . We have arranged a mortgage in principle so we now need to find a place and get the ball rolling!

    We spotted a lovely cottage that we both loved the look of on the market for £200,000 but it was a little out of our price range so we dismissed it straight away. However I looked again today and the price has just been reduced to guide price £150,000 so we are very excited to go and look at it.

    I'm a little weary as it is grade 2 listed with a thatched roof. I have heard a lot of people warn against listed properties and I know repairing/replacing thatch can be expensive. The sudden price reduction also worries me a bit (the property was first put on the market for £275,000 just over 2 months ago).

    Does anybody know if lenders are happy to provide mortgages on this type of property or could it be difficult?

    We are both very new to all of this so any advice will be much appreciated, especially regarding any hidden costs involved in buying a period house.

    Thanks,
    Becca
Page 1
    • pinkteapot
    • By pinkteapot 9th Aug 13, 12:59 PM
    • 6,155 Posts
    • 7,923 Thanks
    pinkteapot
    • #2
    • 9th Aug 13, 12:59 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Aug 13, 12:59 PM
    One thing to be aware of is that home insurance is more expensive for both listed and thatched properties, so doubly so if it's both!

    If you end up going for it, find a local independent surveyor who's a specialist in these types of properties - don't just use the bank's valuation guy.

    The downsides of listed are that (1) it's a lot more difficult to make changes to the property (but if you're happy with it as is then this isn't a problem) and (2) general repairs and maintenance are often more expensive because you'll need specialist tradesmen.

    I love the look of thatch but my mum worked as a household insurance underwriter and banned me from ever owning a thatched cottage as she saw the insurance claims that came in. More info on insuring a thatched property:
    http://www.moneysupermarket.com/home-insurance/thatched-roof/

    I also seem to remember that thatch needs replacing roughly every 50 years but should be checked annually. Just this morning I cycled past a cottage being re-thatched. So worth asking on a viewing if they know when it was last replaced.
  • Strapped
    • #3
    • 9th Aug 13, 1:05 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Aug 13, 1:05 PM
    I'd be extremely surprised if you could strike a deal for £150k with vendors who originally listed for £275k. Unless there is something majorly wrong which has come to light (has it been under offer recently?) Or does "guide price" imply it is going to auction?

    But to answer your Q, thatch is not necessarily a big issue, but does need replacing every 20-50 years depending on quality, and can be a fire risk so insurance can be much higher. I'd be more concerned by the Grade II listing though, which will limit what you can and can't do with the property (including what type of thatch you use, windows, layout, etc) - so if you were planning on changing anything, you may not be able to. Period property generally has higher maintenance costs. I'd be tempted to say maybe not one for a FTBer, esp if budget is already tight, unless you have people around you with experience who can lend a helping hand.
    They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth. -- Plato
    • pinkteapot
    • By pinkteapot 9th Aug 13, 1:16 PM
    • 6,155 Posts
    • 7,923 Thanks
    pinkteapot
    • #4
    • 9th Aug 13, 1:16 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Aug 13, 1:16 PM
    Lots of houses round here say "guide price". Tends to mean that the owner wants that figure. As opposed to asking price £150k and then they get people offering £125k.

    OP - don't get excited and think it's a bargain because it's come down from £275k. Check what else is on the market - it may just have been seriously over-priced to start with. We've viewed a few now that have been on the market for ages, and when we've viewed it's always become obvious why no-one else has gone for it.
  • jamesml
    • #5
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:31 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:31 PM
    Don't forget as well, that issues with insurance and grade 2 etc will put off future buyers - it may or may not impact your decision but you might want to think about whether its an issue to you.
    • phoebe1989seb
    • By phoebe1989seb 9th Aug 13, 2:34 PM
    • 3,059 Posts
    • 6,313 Thanks
    phoebe1989seb
    • #6
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:34 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:34 PM
    We currently live in a Georgian thatched house that we purchased in 2011. It isn't listed though, but we have found our insurance premiums are much higher than they were at our previous (Tudor origin, also non-listed ) house. This is partly down to the fact that we also have a stream running through our garden as well as a large multi-fuel burner that I know for a fact increases premiums. We found that a small, specialist insurer was the way to go.

    Fortunately our thatch was replaced by the previous owner in 2008, but given time we know that the ridge will be the first to go.

    Despite what other posters say, you may well get a *deal* price-wise - one listed (but not thatched) house we offered on, but later decided against, was originally on for £400k+. It sold a couple of years later (having gone unsold at auction with a £200k guide) for £182k! What appears to be a bargain at first may well turn into a money pit however, as previous posters are correct in saying that with listed buildings everything has to pass muster with the Conservation Officer and corners cannot be cut.....and indeed huge *reductions* in price may be a result of either significant works required or previous works done without LBC!

    I'd agree that older (and particularly listed) buildings are not for the faint-hearted and a bit of a challenge for a FTB, but that's no reason to discount it entirely. We've been tackling project houses since our early twenties and now DS is following in our footsteps

    Good luck with whatever you decide OP!
    Last edited by phoebe1989seb; 09-08-2013 at 11:48 PM. Reason: Blooming iPad turned 'large' into 'rage', lol!
    Paid off mortgage early - mortgage-free since age 40 (2007)

    Over £40,000 mis-sold PPI reclaimed
  • Itismehonest
    • #7
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:51 PM
    • #7
    • 9th Aug 13, 2:51 PM
    I second what Strapped has said.

    My first thought (given that even £275 for a listed thatched cottage would be considered a good price in this part of the country - if in good order) was to wonder if any work had been carried out in breach of listing. The responsibility to put things right would fall on you once the property became yours.

    I'd be extremely careful to ensure that every aspect of the property is gone over with a fine tooth comb before you commit to make sure you don't buy something which ends up costing you a fortune you hadn't accounted for.
  • AAS
    • #8
    • 9th Aug 13, 3:36 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Aug 13, 3:36 PM
    I have been renting a thatched cottage for 5 years and am about to buy my first house, not thatched!

    I love the house we rent it is quirky and loads of charm but would I buy it? Sadly no. If we had loads of spare cash then probably but if you are like us and have saved nearly ten years and don't have amazing incomes it may turn out to be a bad decision! We found it hard to get contents insurance and you are looking at specialist insurance. If there are problems then you will be paying a premium for some tasks due to the listing. Ours was re thatched two years ago and I hate to think of the cost, also survey may flag up issues with subsidence, damp etc... Considering they have been habitable for 100s of years it seems silly but adds to the stress of buying with a mortgage. If the process of buying doesn't put you off then you could end up with a great house with loads of character. However the price reduction suggests a problem, worth a look but ask a LOT of questions and if you are still keen get a good surveyor with lots of experience and don't fall in love with it.

    Good luck!
  • Mr Moo
    • #9
    • 9th Aug 13, 3:44 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Aug 13, 3:44 PM
    Not promoting this organisation, but a quick search brings up what looks like a sensible list of questions to consider -

    http://lpoc.co.uk/help-and-advice/questions-and-answers/

    Separate out the thatching and listing - both have their own issues & risks which are well covered by the posts above ^^^^
  • Full of angst
    I have just sold (complete on 12th August) a grade 2 listed house (oldest part of it about 300 years old and the rest of it Georgian). I have to say I have not been bothered at all by the fact that it is grade 2 listed (and it's in a conservation area which adds to its restrictions). I have lived here for 10 years and haven't wanted to do any major changes or developments so I haven't personally had to deal with the conservationists. However, in the late 90's it had a loft conversion and a porch built which joined a separate building to the main house. I have got copies of all the plans and the correspondence involved in getting all the necessary consents and it is a box file! Letters back and forth about what sized dormers and what sort of bricks a mortar to use etc. Several plans were rejected as the conservationists insist on use of materials and methods even if they do not comply with today's standards and regulations (as an example they did not approve of leading around the dormers as it was not in keeping with the building's heritage). However, oddly they did approve of white plastic guttering! So even though it's a bit of a pain getting permissions in place it's not always the most costly options.

    If you do decide to buy this house and find there's no major structural defects (which the huge price drop makes me wonder if there is) I'd say go for it; I've loved being custodian of this lovely old house - even though I'm more than happy now to be handing the responsibility over to someone else
    Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes (Oscar Wilde)

    If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything (Mark Twain)
    • SG27
    • By SG27 10th Aug 13, 7:16 AM
    • 1,887 Posts
    • 1,179 Thanks
    SG27
    I own a grade II listed 300+ year old cottage and I would say the benefits of owning a unique part of history far out way the downsides. Major maintenance will cost more. The little things are pretty much the same though.

    Buildings insurance is no more expensive than normal for being listed, at least not with our insurer anyway. The thatch is the only issue I would be a bit concerned about but if you do your research into owning a thatched property then you'll know what to expect.

    Get a surveyor who understands listed properties and their needs, or preferably specialises in them. A normal surveyor will be recommend damp proof courses and wood worm treatment when it's not necessary and could even be harmful to the building.
    Mortgage Debt: £93,537.48/£105,025 Feb 13
    Overpayments so far: £3,939.72
    • namecheck
    • By namecheck 10th Aug 13, 8:27 AM
    • 469 Posts
    • 503 Thanks
    namecheck
    In general, I love listed buildings. I have lived in or owned several Grade 11 listed houses.

    But sorry, I think you are mad to consider this property!

    Firstly, I think it is VERY odd that the asking price has dropped so dramatically (275k to 150k in a matter of months). There could be major problems with this house.

    Secondly, as FTBs without any experience (and not a bottomless pit of funds as you say the original price was out of your range) you could easily find yourselves in a bit of a nightmare.

    SG27 says their buildings insurance has cost no more for being listed. In my experience some insurers won't take on listed properties and with those that do, you WILL pay more. In addition, you won't get "deals".

    And as this house is thatched you WILL have more trouble getting insurance and it WILL cost more.

    If anything needs to be done to the house you could pay out a lot of money, plus have the possible aggravation of dealing with various people at the local council who may or may not agree with what you want to do, and if they do agree will be very fussy how you do it.

    Full of angst has not had any problems - but by their own admission has not had to make any changes requiring dealings with conservation people.

    I agree with jamesml, Itismehonest and pinkteapot.
    • SG27
    • By SG27 10th Aug 13, 8:49 AM
    • 1,887 Posts
    • 1,179 Thanks
    SG27
    In general, I love listed buildings. I have lived in or owned several Grade 11 listed houses.

    But sorry, I think you are mad to consider this property!

    Firstly, I think it is VERY odd that the asking price has dropped so dramatically (275k to 150k in a matter of months). There could be major problems with this house.

    Secondly, as FTBs without any experience (and not a bottomless pit of funds as you say the original price was out of your range) you could easily find yourselves in a bit of a nightmare.

    SG27 says their buildings insurance has cost no more for being listed. In my experience some insurers won't take on listed properties and with those that do, you WILL pay more. In addition, you won't get "deals".

    And as this house is thatched you WILL have more trouble getting insurance and it WILL cost more.

    If anything needs to be done to the house you could pay out a lot of money, plus have the possible aggravation of dealing with various people at the local council who may or may not agree with what you want to do, and if they do agree will be very fussy how you do it.

    Full of angst has not had any problems - but by their own admission has not had to make any changes requiring dealings with conservation people.

    I agree with jamesml, Itismehonest and pinkteapot.
    Originally posted by namecheck

    My insurer, Royal sun alliance through YBS told me that as long as the property is not 'non standard construction' then it doesn't matter that its listed. Thatched obviously is non standard.

    With regards to the price this could be an issue unless they are in serious trouble and need to sell ASAP. Another possibility is that it's been taken on by an agent that prices very low to get interest but in reality they vendor wont accept even the asking price. Express Estate Agency used to do this. The are advertised as offers in excess of £xxx and you have to offer considerably above.
    Mortgage Debt: £93,537.48/£105,025 Feb 13
    Overpayments so far: £3,939.72
    • namecheck
    • By namecheck 10th Aug 13, 10:35 AM
    • 469 Posts
    • 503 Thanks
    namecheck
    My insurer, Royal sun alliance through YBS told me that as long as the property is not 'non standard construction' then it doesn't matter that its listed. Thatched obviously is non standard.

    With regards to the price this could be an issue unless they are in serious trouble and need to sell ASAP. Another possibility is that it's been taken on by an agent that prices very low to get interest but in reality they vendor wont accept even the asking price. Express Estate Agency used to do this. The are advertised as offers in excess of £xxx and you have to offer considerably above.
    Originally posted by SG27
    Yes, "non standard construction" is the key - I've no idea of the percentages but there are very many Grade 11 listed houses which ARE of non standard construction. And, as you say, the property the OP is interested in is non standard.

    People are generally a bit clueless when it comes to listed buildings. For example, I was talking to someone recently (not a FTB and with a professional qualification) who did not realise the Grade 11 listed house they live in was of non standard construction.

    This was because their house is timber framed but was altered in Georgian times and does not now "look" timber framed. And they had not had a problem finding buildings insurance because it was done on the basis of being a standard construction. I was amazed, and hope they never need to make a claim.
    • SG27
    • By SG27 10th Aug 13, 12:57 PM
    • 1,887 Posts
    • 1,179 Thanks
    SG27
    Yes, "non standard construction" is the key - I've no idea of the percentages but there are very many Grade 11 listed houses which ARE of non standard construction. And, as you say, the property the OP is interested in is non standard.

    People are generally a bit clueless when it comes to listed buildings. For example, I was talking to someone recently (not a FTB and with a professional qualification) who did not realise the Grade 11 listed house they live in was of non standard construction.

    This was because their house is timber framed but was altered in Georgian times and does not now "look" timber framed. And they had not had a problem finding buildings insurance because it was done on the basis of being a standard construction. I was amazed, and hope they never need to make a claim.
    Originally posted by namecheck
    My house is timber framed. And RSA are happy that this is not 'non standard construction' I suppose it depends on the particular company what they class to be standard or non standard.
    Mortgage Debt: £93,537.48/£105,025 Feb 13
    Overpayments so far: £3,939.72
  • Gladallover
    Thanks so much for all your advice. I think you have all highlighted how much research needs to be done before we get carried away!
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