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Many people dream of owning a listing property: the idea of living in a home with such a long heritage – that has been certified by the state as representing a part of British history which needs to be preserved for future generations – it’s all incredibly romantic, and for those lucky enough to be able to acquire such properties invariably do so with a great deal of pride. Moreover, on the whole listed properties tend to keep their value better than other homes and are more immune to market fluctuations.
However, buying a listed property entails accepting certain responsibilities and limitations which shouldn’t be taken lightly, with many being faced with red tape and restrictions. Most obviously, you will need to get local authority consent for any changes you may wish to make to the home – which can vary from something apparently inconsequential as putting up a satellite dish to more major structural amends. Listing applies to both the exterior and interior of a building, the area immediately surrounding it and any extensions and failure to get the appropriate consent is a criminal offence. In particular, proposed changes to any elements of the property mentioned in the original listing are very unlikely to be approved (those elements, after all, are what gives the home its listed status) so prior to purchasing make sure you are entirely happy with keeping all the parts of the property specifically highlighted in its listing.
In general, it’s simpler to add to the property than to change or get rid of existing features; adding extra rooms, a conservatory or a pool (as long as these don’t compromise the existing home) is more likely to be approved than a request to demolish a wing or reshape a façade. Because at the point of any future sale you need to be able to demonstrate compliance with the law you should keep a record of any changes, and the approvals granted, which you can show buyers.
Karen James, Partner commented: “It’s very important that the original listing is scrutinised carefully against the current state of the building to ensure that any changes that might have been made to the property, however cosmetic, have had the required consents from the local authority. Liability will automatically pass to the new owner regardless of who carried out any works.
“It’s also worth bearing in mind that even prior to resale, listed homes can be more expensive to occupy and maintain than other properties (in part because they tend to be much older); before finalising a purchase get as firm an idea as possible of upkeep costs, prioritising protection from damp and insulation – both factors which, if neglected, can lead to very expensive damage down the line.”