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<strong>Russell Hunt </strong><br />MANAGING DIRECTOR,<br />PROPERTY HUNT<br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Russell, I have a short lease on my property and I was wondering &ndash; how I would go about extending it?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> Well, now is a good time to extend your lease because the cost is based on the current valuation of your property, so your lease extension will cost less now than it would have done 18 months ago. <br /><br />Extending your lease makes complete sense if you are not looking to move in the near future and it is a good long-term investment. But in the short-term, the extra lease length will add value to your property if you did decide to sell. <br /><br />If you want to go ahead with extending the lease, the best thing is to contact the freeholder of the property &ndash; in London there are some large freeholders such as the Cadogan, Portman and Grosvenor estates. <br /><br />The freeholder will come back with an offer for the lease extension, but remember that the price is negotiable. If there is a discrepancy then you can go to a tribunal but this is costly.<br /><br />The shorter the current lease the more costly the extension will be &ndash; typically another 90 years are added to the lease. You also have to cover the other party&rsquo;s solicitors&rsquo; costs because you are the one who is benefiting from the extension.<br /><br /><strong>Q. Dear Russell, I&rsquo;ve seen a lower ground flat in the right location and within my budget. But is a basement ever a good investment?</strong><br /><strong>A.</strong> There are certainly people who would not even consider lower ground floor flats and rule them out without even looking at them. But this is a mistake &ndash; there are different types of lower ground floor flats and some are well set back from the road, which increases the light coming into the property. They don&rsquo;t have to be dark and dingy, although they are more susceptible to damp. Watch out for this when looking round lower ground floor properties and ensure the bathroom has an efficient extractor fan if there is no window. <br /><br />Because some people don&rsquo;t like lower ground floor flats they tend to be priced a little lower, which means you can get a good size flat in a location that you wouldn&rsquo;t normally be able to afford. They often come with an outside space, too. When looking at a property its difficult to get something that is perfect &ndash; you have to decide what is most important.<br /><br />Admittedly, capital growth on lower ground floor flats will be lower than flats on the ground or first floor but you will definitely get some benefit from it. If you are investing in the property for a buy-to-let, then lower ground floor flats can be a good option. People who rent aren&rsquo;t as concerned, particularly if the property is in a good location and close to the Tube. <br /><br />Russell Hunt is managing director of Property Hunt, a search agent for London and the Home Counties <br /><br />www.property-hunt.co.uk