You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the types of property available to buy in the UK, from bedsits to semi-detached houses and stately Victorian homes. Your decision depends on your budget, your taste and your family’s needs. If you have a modest budget and a modest family, semi-detached houses provide a good balance between privacy and affordability. What should you look out for if a semi has caught your eye? We provide a brief overview of this distinctive style, as well as a rundown of what semi-detached houses have to offer.
What does semi-detached mean?
The term 'semi-detached' refers to a house that is connected to another property on one side, as opposed to a detached house which stands alone, or a terraced house which forms part of a row of properties. Designed by John Shaw and his son during the 19th century, the semi rose to prominence during the British housing boom of the 1920s and 30s when it became the preferred form of housing for the middle class and a staple of British suburban life.
Though not as ubiquitous as they once were, they remain the predominant property type in the UK, comprising 32% of UK housing transactions and 32% of the English housing stock.
For buyers, semis provide more privacy and space than terraced houses, but at a much more affordable price than detached houses. For property investors, they present a viable investment option. Research conducted by Halifax shows that semi-detached houses have increased in value by 111 per cent over the past decade - the highest of all the various property types.
What do semi-detached houses offer?
Value for money: Detached homes are perceived as more private than semis and that pushes up their selling price. However, in many cases detached homes are in such close proximity to their neighbours, that owners have many of the same issues as in a semi-detached house, despite the higher price tag.
More privacy than terraced housing: In comparison to terraced homes, semi-detached houses have more space for a garden and driveway, and suffer less from noise pollution.
Easier buying process: Because semi-detached houses are so common, you won't have any difficulty getting the information you need during the buying process. Any bank, mortgage lender or estate agency you approach for advice will have a large database of knowledge to draw on.
The Land Registry provides access to a quarterly Land Registry Residential Property Price Report that contains average prices for semi-detached housing across the country.
Important things to know
Property surveys are essential: Since many semi-detached houses were built en mass to provide cheap housing options, it's important to arrange an inspection of the property. Ourproperty.co.uk recommends that you order a full Building Survey be performed through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This ensures that the property will undergo the most thorough inspection possible.
Leasehold: Most semi-detached houses are leasehold, as opposed to freehold. This means you are purchasing a lease on the house and the land it's built on from a freeholder, as opposed to purchasing ownership of the land and building. These leases can range from 10 to 999 years.
HomeOwners Alliance has more information on the differences between freehold and leasehold. Ensure that you are well-advised and have a full understanding of the terms and conditions of the agreement before purchasing a leasehold.
Whether or not a semi-detached house suits your needs is just one of many important decisions you need to make. Online estate agents such as Tepilo can ensure you have all the guidance you need during the home-buying process.