Nesbits News

Flats in Southsea and Portsmouth

Are you thinking of buying a flat in Southsea or Portsmouth? At Nesbits we have a wealth of experience in flat ownership having in the past had a thriving block management department, looking after many of the city’s prominent apartment blocks.

There are many things to consider when buying a flat and the procedure is not quite as straightforward as buying a freehold house. Here are some helpful pointers:

  • Perhaps, the first consideration is location. Do you want, for example, something on Southsea Seafront? Southsea has many blocks of flats, both purpose built and converted, on the Seafront with budgets to suit most.
  • Leasehold or Freehold? Generally speaking, flats are sold on a long leasehold basis. The Freehold can be owned by an individual,a management company or perhaps the residents in common.
  • Do you want a purpose-built or converted flat? In Southsea, there are many substantial properties that have, over time, been converted into flats as the demand for large family homes has diminished. On Southsea Seafront, many of the former guest houses/hotels have been converted into flats. Converted units may have the benefit of larger rooms than the purpose-built equivalent. In Portsmouth generally, some family homes have been split into flats to accommodate an ever-increasing population, especially with the high number of students in the area and professionals that may only be able to afford a flat rather than a house.
  • Who looks after the block that I am looking to buy? There are Estate Agents in Southsea and Portsmouth that have specialist management departments overseeing the running of the blocks on a day-to-day basis. Residents may have some input here if there is a residents’ committee.
  • What is a service charge? This is an amount, payable by each resident, either annually, or half yearly, to help cover the costs of running a building. This fee can vary widely depending on whether there is a lift in the building, if there is a caretaker on site, if there are grounds to the block, if the flat is a retirement unit, if the block is just brick built or is rendered and needs painting on a regular basis, etc.
  • How much is the service charge likely to be? As above, this can vary greatly, again, depending on what type of services are provided. Retirement flats tend to have higher service charges to cover a manager on site, on-call assistance, etc. This can vary from £1500 per annum to £8,000+ per annum for a retirement flat on Southsea Seafront that also provides care facilities. Some service charges include central heating and water charges.
  • What is Ground Rent? This is a sum that is payable annually to the Freeholder of the building. It can be a fixed amount per annum and range from a peppercorn sum to £500 – this is just locally. If you were buying in London, the ground rent could be £1000 p.a. Some Ground Rents increase over a certain amount of time, say every 25 years, so it is important to know what sum you are paying and what you are going to be paying if you plan to stay in your flat a long time. Some grounds rents have a ‘doubling’ clause in them, so its best to be aware.
  • What does the length of a lease matter? When you buy a flat, you are buying the lease of the flat too. Leases can vary in length, and it is very important that you know what length of lease you are buying and the consequences of a ‘short’ lease. If you are buying a property with a lease less than 80 years, then it may not be possible to get a mortgage on the flat. Leases can be extended; the Freeholder is obliged to grant a Lessee an extension to a short lease but there is a charge for this. This charge can run into several £1000s of pounds depending on how short the lease is. A good Chartered Surveyor would be able to calculate this cost for you. The principal of Nesbits, David Nesbit, deals with lease extensions on a regular basis.
  • Cladding, is it an issue? Following the devastating events at Grenfell Tower, cladding is a very important matter and blocks that have cladding and are over a certain height should have a certificate indicating that they have been inspected and are safe.
  • Can I have a pet in a flat? Some blocks in Southsea allow pets and some don’t. It’s always good to check before you go on a viewing to avoid wasting your time and the agents!
  • What are the benefits of buying a flat? As people age, they no longer want the responsibility of maintaining a property, gardening etc. and flat living affords them the luxury of living somewhere where someone else takes care of those things. They are safe to leave if you are going on holiday; most entrance doors have safety features that keep burglars out! You can be part of a community if the flat has common areas where the residents can meet up with each other and hold events. You know precisely what outgoings are each year in terms of the upkeep of the building and have someone to help you if there are issues with the block.
  • What are the disadvantages of buying a flat? No outside space, unless the flat has a balcony. You may not be able to bring your pet with you. There may be noise from other flats. If you are used to living in a house you may find flat living to claustrophobic. High maintenance charges/service charges.
  • Does it take a long time to buy a flat? The process is a little different to buying a house in that your solicitor will need to apply for a management pack from the management company to ascertain what the conditions of the lease are and what the various charges and restrictions there could be. This makes buying a flat a more lengthy process, particularly if it’s a retirement/housing association flat where the management companies can be a low slower in responding to questions.

Is buying a flat in Southsea/Portsmouth a good idea? We have sold many flats over the years to occupants who find flat living very much to their liking. Flats can offer security, somewhere they can lock up and leave, and some with wonderful views of the Solent and beyond.

Come and speak to us at Nesbits, we have extensive knowledge about most of the blocks in Southsea, having sold in the majority of them over the years.



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