Thursday 29 September 2022

Is a ground floor flat a good buy?


Which floor a flat is on is an important factor when deciding what to buy (or rent). Some are ardent in their opinion that an upper-floor flat is the only way to go, whilst others can see plenty of benefits in keeping your feet on the ground. Typically, top floor flats have achieved a premium price over their ground floor counterparts, but is this justified?

Many will say it is and that flats on the ground floor represent both a privacy and security risk. In theory that is true; people walking past will be able to see into a ground floor flat rather than one higher up. And it’s easier to hop through an open window or break the glass of one on the ground floor than if you’d need a ladder to do so. But the same could be said for any house that isn’t built on stilts, so that logic doesn’t really cut the mustard in my opinion.

Certainly the view can be better in a flat on a higher floor and they tend to be brighter too. Plus, heat rises, so they are often easier and cheaper to heat in the Winter. I think there’s still something of a ‘status’ about being higher up in the sky though (think top floor penthouses), which largely clouds people’s opinions on the matter. Having said that, there’s definitely something to be said for only having neighbours below you, compared to ground floor flats, which in a poorly insulated building can mean hearing ‘footsteps on the ceiling’.

Ground floor flats though make perfect sense for those wishing to avoid the stairs. Whilst many immediately think of the elderly in this regard, the benefit is also there for young families with pushchairs and people with mobility issues. They’re also easier to evacuate for the safety conscious and you won’t have to worry about leaking roofs (although they’re the first ones to feel the impact of rising damp or drainage problems).

But the real bonus of having a ground floor flat is that many come with their own private garden or direct access to communal grounds. Apart from the obvious benefit this provides, which came to the fore as we were stuck at home during the pandemic, it can also make ground floor flats suitable for pet owners compared to their more penned-in upper-floor flat counterparts (although you’ll need to check the head lease to ensure pets are allowed at all).

I have long argued that houses are more popular than flats with both owner-occupiers and tenants. This is because they come with their own entrance, private outdoor space and, normally, better parking. But I’ve visited many ground floor flats that also come with these benefits and it’s not surprising that demand for these are holding up noticeably better at the moment compared to flats without these bonuses.

So for me, a ground floor flat that provides access onto its own outdoor space could be a winner; particularly with an aging population that values their own private space. This is a good way of getting many of the benefits associated with a house, but with a lower price tag.

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