Ask the experts: What should I look out for when buying a flat?

Adam Coombs from Hillcrest Estate Management answers your questions

Name of expert: Adam Coombs
Job title: Managing director
Contact information: adam.coombs@hillcrestestates.co.uk | 0117 973 0600
Length of time in company: 15 years
Main responsibilities: Overseeing the company and managing a small portfolio of properties.
Company name: Hillcrest Estate Management
Company contact information: 0117 973 0600 | info@hillcrestestates.co.uk | 5 Grove Road, Redland, Bristol, BS6 6UJ | www.hillcrestestates.co.uk

One of the most important questions to ask when considering the purchase of a flat is how much money the management company holds in their reserve fund. If the answer is ‘very little’ then it is very likely individual levies will need to be raised when the next major works, such as external decorations are due. A healthy reserve fund is crucial to help maintain the property moving forward in order to ensure leaseholders’ investments are protected.

Don’t forget to look at the condition of the building when you view the flat. Does it look well maintained, has it been painted recently? It is easy to be transfixed by an amazing flat that is in a building that requires a large amount of major works. If the service charges are very high, then it might be because suitable reserve contributions are being collected each year. Don’t let this put you off as this is the best way to collect money that will be required for future maintenance of the building.

With good reserves in place, the planned maintenance can take place when required without delay or the need for extra levies. Owners can manage their finances better without worrying when they might need to find extra funds at short notice. Here at Hillcrest we try and ensure all clients plan well for the future and build reserves which try meet the future maintenance needs of their properties.

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