Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Style Council; (1) ?235,000: One-Bedroom 15th-Floor Flat in Columbia Road, E2, with Stunning Views. Call 020 7033 1414 (2) ?265,000: Two-Bedroom Flat in Bethnal Green, E2, Opposite Victoria Park Square. Call 020 7033 1414

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Style Council; (1) ?235,000: One-Bedroom 15th-Floor Flat in Columbia Road, E2, with Stunning Views. Call 020 7033 1414 (2) ?265,000: Two-Bedroom Flat in Bethnal Green, E2, Opposite Victoria Park Square. Call 020 7033 1414

Article excerpt

Byline: Lorna Bourke

THERE is a one-bedroom flat for sale in North Kensington, just off Dart Road, ten minutes' walk at most from Portobello Road market and the Tube price ?214,950. It has a decent-sized living room, a kitchen big enough to eat in and a separate bathroom. In addition, it has a 120-year lease and an annual ground rent and service charge, including hot water and heating, of just ?300 and is on the market with Queens Park Real Estate (0845 683 1964).

In today's market you could probably pick it up for ?199,000, or less. Ideal for a first-time buyer. So why hasn't it been snapped up? The reason it's a former local authority flat.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about excouncil properties," says Daren Haysom, manager of the Shoreditch branch of estate agent Foxtons. "There are some beautiful Victorian buildings, such as those built for the Peabody Trust, Guinness Trust and the East End Dwelling Company, which have large rooms, high ceilings and separate bathrooms and kitchens. They are really attractive, with similar features to flats in converted Victorian houses that everyone wants.

"For people who prefer more modern architecture, we have sold a lot of former council flats in buildings such as Trellick Towers in North Kensington, the Barbican in the City and Keeling House in Shoreditch.

"A lot of them are now portered and the lifts work. Under the Decent Home Standards, former council blocks will be renovated and the shared areas must be safe." Contrary to popular belief, mortgages are available on these properties. "Not all lenders will offer mortgages on former council flats, so you will have less choice, but there are still plenty available," confirms Ray Boulger of mortgage broker John Charcol. "Some lenders won't lend on blocks of more than five or six storeys, and others don't like blocks built with concrete slabs, but flats such as those in the Barbican are fine.

Some lenders don't like studios and others have lower maximum loan-to-values but there is still choice. Generally speaking, you should be able to get a mortgage for up to 90 per cent of the purchase price. …

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