Buying a terraced house

Terraced property has become increasingly popular over the last few years, often appealing to first-time buyers and young families. This rising popularity has been matched by a steady increase in value, with the average price of terraced property going up faster than any other property type in the past decade.

A recent survey by Halifax Estate Agents found the price of a typical terrace house has risen by 239% in the last ten years, compared to an average of 205% over all properties.

While this may seem like a worrying statistic, terrace houses nonetheless remain the UK’s cheapest property type. So what should a potential buyer look for when considering an investment in terraced accommodation? What are the pros and cons of this popular property type? Here are the key points for consideration:

Location, Location, Location

A property cliché perhaps, but a fitting one. The location of your terrace is obviously going to be of prime importance when you begin house hunting but, in the case of this type of property, it can be even more crucial.

One of the most common concessions buyers are forced into when buying terraced houses is that of outdoor space. It’s likely that a terrace will have a considerably smaller garden than most property types, and you may want to search out the nearest parks and open spaces for yourself or particularly for children, to compensate for the lack of recreational space.

On the bright side, one of the common perks of living in terraced accommodation is the proximity to local shops, schools, parks and public transport - however, don’t take this for granted. Take the time to discover the surrounding area and consider the practicalities of your chosen location.

Safety and Security

Areas which are well lit at night, easily visible from neighbouring houses and that have a steady flow of traffic are often the safest. When viewing terraced properties, be sure to consider the condition of the street and surrounding houses – if you have children, consider the dangers of nearby roads, and whether there’s enough street-lighting for sufficient security.

Another important safety factor to consider is the presence of rear access to the property, which is common on terrace streets. Many of these have alleys or passageways leading across the rear of the properties, which can be a security issue. It’s important that you consider this access with security in mind.

If there is an alley or passageway to the rear of the property, is it clear and clean? Is access restricted to residents alone? Is the area well lit? Remember these key points when thinking about safety and security on terrace streets:

  • Are nearby roads going to cause concerns for children?
  • Does the street and surrounding area feel safe?
  • How well lit is the street?
  • If there are passages to the rear of the property, are these clean and uncluttered?
  • Are the passageways a security hazard? Who has access to them?
  • What are the car parking arrangements? If you have one, is your car likely to be secure on the street?
  • Does the property have double glazing?

Construction

Before stepping inside a potential terraced property, take a good look at the external appearance of the house. Consider how much maintenance or repair you may have to carry out – are there any visible faults or flaws which may need closer inspection? Building consultants or inspection firms can carry out pre-purchase inspections and so, if you’re in any doubt about the structural condition of the property, it’s best to get the house checked out by a professional. While you're viewing the outside of the terrace, have a look for the following warning signs:

  • Signs of leaks – water staining, bubbling/peeling paint or mould. This could be a sign of poor construction and insufficient weatherproofing, and may be the warning signs of a much costlier problem.
  • Gaps around doors and windows which could let in water.
  • Cracks and fine lines in plaster, which may require attention or re-plastering.
  • Visible curves, lines or cracking in the wall cladding.