One of the main aspects to look out for when looking to buy a property is whether the property is a freehold or leasehold. It is very important to be aware of the differences between the two as each has different rights and restrictions could affect what you can do to the property.
If the property that you intend to purchase has a freehold, you would own the exclusive rights to the property and the land in which it is situated. No other party can make a claim to your land and you have the right to change the land or property in any way that you desire, just as long as it adheres to planning restrictions and regulations. A freehold will not end until a property has been sold or transferred. If the owner of a freehold property dies it will become part of their estate. The only major disadvantage of buying a freehold property is that you will take on the responsibility of paying for the maintenance of the property and the land. Despite this a freehold property will usually be preffered over leasehold property as you will not be governed by any restrictions on the property.
There is another version of a freehold which is known as a flying freehold. A flying freehold is when a part of the property is also a part of another freehold. For example, if you had a balcony which goes over a neighbour's property. A flying freehold will make the transaction process slightly more complicated, if you are employing a conveyancing specialist you might want to expect slightly higher fees.
If the property that you wish to purchase is under leasehold you will only have purchased the right to live in the property rather than owning the land and the property. Each lease is different and they can include various different clauses that would affect what you can do and how you can use the property.
A lease will be set for a specific amount of time, such as 120 years. If the lease you are buying is less than 60 years, you may find it hard to get a mortgage lender. It would be advisable to try to negotiate an extension for the leasehold; but this solution can end up costing a lot in extra fees. When the leasehold ends the property will return to being in the possession of the freeholder. An advantage to buying a leasehold property would be that the freeholder will often be responsible for carrying out any repairs or maintenance to the property. The leasehold should say exactly what the freeholder is responsible for and what the leaseholder responsibilities are.
After you have purchased a leasehold property you may need to pay extra fees to the freeholder in property law. These fees could be anything from ground rent to maintenance charges. It is very important that you thoroughly research any fees that you will be liable for as they can often be quite expensive.