Buying A Flat in Richmond

It’s hard to find good information about buying flats in Richmond upon Thames.

There are plenty of estate agents with flats for sale so this post is designed to give some good advice to prospective buyers.  First of all, here’s a guide to the approximate costs of flats for sale in Richmond, and bear in mind that there will always be outliers for flats in a desperate state of repair, or perhaps brand new penthouse flats with spectacular views such as the River Thames or Richmond Park. Note that there are usually far more 2 bedroom flats on the market than any other size, and that there are very few flats with 4 or more bedrooms.

Flat Prices in Richmond, updated July 2013
Type Minimum Sale Price Maximum Sale Price
studio £180.000 £330.000
1 bedroom £250.000 £500.000
2 bedroom £350.000 £1.300.000
3 bedroom £400.000 £2.100.000

The property market is currently very unsettled so don’t treat the “for sale” asking price as the price you need to pay. It always pays to be bold with your first offer – especially if the flat has been on sale for a while. Richmond estate agents have seen some amazingly cheeky offers being accepted recently, and the worst that can happen is that you get your offer rejected.

A significant factor in a flat’s sale price will be the number of years remaining on the lease – a short lease will be much cheaper. Many leaseholders are open to extending the lease period (the costs can range from £1,000 to £100,000 depending on the time remaining) but you should not assume that it’s a guaranteed opportunity. You should always speak to a surveyor for advice on costs and negotiating. The number of tenants owning the freehold in a property is increasing in Richmond, sometimes shared between all the tenants, or held by one of the tenants – which can put a significant premium on the sale price, but means that you have more control and responsibility.

The annual service charge can vary significantly in Richmond, depending on the state of the property, the quality of the managing agents and the facilities. If the flat has a large communal area, for example, then the costs of maintaining that communal area (cleaning, gardening, security) need to be borne by the tenants, usually on an equal basis. It also has to cover the costs of building insurance, and paying a commission to the agents!

A converted flat in a Victorian terrace house might have a service charge of around £800-£1000 a year, whereas a modern block with porter, lifts, underground parking etc might be more than £2,500. Make sure that you’re clear about what the sale price includes – although it’s often the ground floor or basement flat that owns the garden, there are several flats in Richmond where the ownership and responsibility lies with the owner of the first floor flat.

The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames will also expect you to pay your council tax bill – and for the majority of flats in Richmond that’s between £1,500 to £2,000 per year for the entire flat, depending upon its value. The difficulty in estimating this cost is that the value is not based on the current sale price, but the value of the property as of April 1st 1991.

If you’re looking for a little extra income to help pay the mortgage on your flat, many Richmond home owners are taking advantage of the Government’s ‘Rent a Room’ scheme. This allows you to earn £4,250 a year tax-free from renting out a room.

This is part of a 3 part post on flats and apartments in Richmond: