Buying a listed building? How to get a mortgage

Buying a listed building? How to get a mortgage

If you dream of living in a converted mill, chapel, school, windmill or even a lighthouse, getting a mortgage could give you nightmares.

The high street banks prefer to lend on purpose-built flats, or four-bedroom executive boxes, rather than take a risk on someone who wants to live their lives outside the box.

Exotic conversions, timber-framed properties, thatched cottages and Grade I listed buildings can all fall victim to the big banks' strict and increasingly automated lending criteria, said David Hollingworth, broker at London & Country Mortgages.

"Your lenders want to know if a property is good security for the loan, so they can resell it easily if forced to repossess because you can't manage your repayments," he said. "They worry that more unusual properties only have a limited market."

Don't despair if you dream of buying something out of the ordinary, because a handful of lenders are willing to help, mostly smaller building societies. You'll pay a premium for your mortgage, but that dream can still be yours.

It is easy to get swept along by the romance of living in an unusual property, but the struggle to find a mortgage will bring you crashing back to earth, said Martyn Smith, head of mortgage products at brokers the Legal & General Network. "Getting a mortgage is particularly difficult if you're planning to renovate an old building yourself. You stand a better chance if it has already been restored."

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