What to buy: a house or a flat

People are usually split into two camps when this question is asked. ‘Team house’ will hold on to the notion that having your own piece of land is the proper way to go. On the other hand, ‘team flat’ will insist that a flat is the best decision you can make. We’re here to tell you that there’s no right or wrong decision to be made. When it’s a question of going for a house or a flat, it all comes down to your personal preferences, requirements, and possibilities. Other than that, here are some things that ought to be taken into consideration before making your final decision.

Start by looking down the line

The property market is changing and is now immensely different than it used to be. Selling and moving seemed to be effortless once. People nowadays find themselves living in the same place for many years. It is smart to take this into account when you’re buying. How will your situation vary in the following years? If you are a young professional, looking for a place with your partner, a small flat would be the better option for you. However, will it be suitable in five years’ time?

Let’s say you might want to start a family. A house would then be the ideal purchase. Even though it may seem too big for you now, your family can grow into it.  You also won’t have to worry about the property market staying strong or frequently moving.

Shot taken from the back. Mother and father are holding child's hands.

Choosing what’s best for your family

Assess a property’s development potential

You should really be aware of the future. It is almost inevitable that you will sell your property someday, so you need to think about its potential. Both a house or a flat have their ways of making you profit, but which is better?

Interest in flats is typically reasonably high, so you have a good chance for a quick sale. Just keep an eye on the demand in the residential letting sector. House might spend a little more time on the market, but your profit potential is much higher since your buyers are mostly families looking for a place to turn into their new home.

The potential for resale is not the only thing that should be taken into consideration. Circumstances change, and if the house can be modified to go along, you should think about settling. Renovation potential of a flat is far smaller than that of a house. An extra bedroom, bathroom or even a garage is plausible with a house, as long as you have the needed space. Why move, when you can improve?

When it comes to investments

There are some pros and cons when it comes to either a house or a flat, so let’s name a few.

Starting with flats, advantages would include:

  • Usually lower entry purchase price than the equivalent houses
  • A good quality flat can cost as much as two-thirds of a house
  • No high service charges or issues with ‘common areas’ not being maintained
  • Expenses for maintaining the building are shared
  • Bulk purchasing can give you a bigger discount

Disadvantages, however, would be:

  • Over time, ground rents could increase substantially
  • Less space
  • Tenants not paying rent is a possibility

Good reasons for owning a house are:

  • More space and privacy for tenants
  • The potential for capital growth is higher
  • Larger land size makes it easier for improvement of any kind, raising the value of the property
  • No issues with ‘common areas’ not being maintained
  • Costs are ideally based on a fixed-rate mortgage

These could be the downsides:

  • More maintenance and repair bills as there’s a larger space to take care of
  • A possibility of a garden that needs tending
  • Bigger chance of a break-in
Money, notebook with a pen, small wooden model of a house.

Put it on a piece of paper: a house or a flat

Location of a house or a flat is a factor

Location is one of the biggest factors that should enter into the equation. Depending on the location of your desired purchase, one or the other will stand out as a better choice. Inner city neighborhoods are filled with flats. Often lacking in floor space, their main virtue is being close to everything you need in regards to work and everyday life.

Houses, on the other hand, are prevalent in suburban areas. Reselling is something you should consider if you are living in a city, where a property can be quite costly. You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck if you buy outside of the city center, where you’ll find large and long-lasting properties.

There are some ground rules

If you plan on owning a flat, you should get accustomed to sharing. Stairs, entrance halls, and bin stores are there at every occupant’s disposal. Get to know the basic facts about the flat, as well as the management and maintenance of the building it is in. Prior to buying, find out:

  • How many years of lease remain
  • How the rent escalates during the lease term
  • The restrictions – e.g. is owning a pet allowed
  • Who is the freehold owner

Houses may be there for you to use as you please, but they come with a set of obligations. If refurbishing, altering or extending the house is in your plans, you ought to look over the possible restrictive covenants. If the property itself is in a bad shape, take into account extended costs that come with repairs and adjust your budget accordingly.

Worker jumping with a board in his hand in front of a house.

Why not fix what is broken?

Generally speaking, it would be wrong to put one option above the other, since many factors, as you’ve seen, affect the final outcome. The best guideline is to follow your lifestyle and preferences and build from there. Investors who try to come up with the ‘right answer’ are doing so in vain. Whichever you choose, a house or a flat, we trust that, after reading this article, you’ll make an informed decision and be truly satisfied.