What you should know before you buy a listed property

With over half a million listed buildings in the UK, what do you need to know if you’re thinking about buying one?

Listed properties hold endless fascination. Many are full of character and have features that are near-impossible to replicate in a new build.

I worked in the property industry for years and marketed many different kinds. 

From converted a Georgian church to the birthplace of a wartime Primeminister. It was always exciting to see them come to market. 

I get why you might be thinking about buying one. 

But, you must understand what you’re getting yourself into.

In this post, I’m sharing some info on the different types of listed buildings. I’ll cover who they’re protected by and the kinds of restrictions to expect. 

What is a listed building?

Simply put, a property gains listed status when there’s something special about it. 

This might be because a historic figure was born there. Like the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth – home of the Bronte sisters. In other cases, it might have significant historic value, like the homes found in Saltaire. 

Other times it’s listed because of its unique architecture. Many churches gain listed status because of that. Sometimes specific parts of a building become listed, like an outbuilding or a part of a garden. But, often an entire building will become protected.

In the UK, there are three different categorisations of listed building. These include:

Grade I

Covering roughly 2.5% of listed buildings, these are of exceptional interest. These are the most protected and are the least occupied for residential purposes.

Grade II* 

These are buildings that are of particular importance. Only 5.5% of listed buildings fall into this category.

Grade II

The most common type of listing in the UK. These are of special architectural or historic interest and include 92%. This is probably the category the property you want to buy falls under.

If you’re left scratching your head about what these status’ mean, don’t worry, I get that it’s a bit confusing. Luckily, there’s an online record of all the listed buildings in England and Wales. You’ll be able to find out more about your specific property there.

Listed building purchase

What to keep in mind when buying a listed building

Because of the listed status, there are more things to keep in mind compared to buying a regular property. Here are just a few of the things you should consider.

Making changes will be challenging

You’re going to have to get permission. In most cases, this will prevent you from having full control over the property. 

Building an extension will be at best time-consuming and at worst impossible.

Insurance will be more expensive

If something goes wrong with your property – like a fire or collapsing roof. Repairing the property becomes more of a restoration project. 

This means specialist, sometimes rare materials to source. And you’ll be at the mercy of the local authority, who’ll tell you what you can and cannot do.

It will be less energy efficient

Thinking you’ll install top of the range, double glazed windows? Think again. Often the windows are a key feature of the property. This means upgrading them will be near impossible.

That said, don’t let me put you off buying a listed building. They’re some of the most unique and charming. 

I encourage you to consider what’s involved before you buy, so you don’t have a shock down the line. 

For further info 

All good estate agents should have good knowledge of the property they’re selling. So don’t be afraid to quiz them on the in’s and outs. If that fails, getting in touch with your local authority should shed light on what’s what.

I hope this article has given you food for thought. If you’d like more info, I’d be happy to point you to a few resources that are worth reading over.

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