News: Enlightening the way to buying a lighthouse

You only need to look around your local area to see that unusual properties are becoming increasingly popular. From mill conversions and old churches to lighthouses, fire stations and even windmills it seems people are pushing new boundaries to find their ideal home.

And whilst it is a common misconception that getting a mortgage on such properties is a complicated business, Halifax, the UK's largest mortgage lender, says to the contrary.

Mark Heaton, head of mortgages, said: "Requests for mortgages on unusual or converted properties are becoming increasingly common due to the release of many interesting sites such as mill conversions, old churches, lighthouses and even windmills."

"The reality is, at least in theory, that you can secure a mortgage for virtually any type of property including windmills, lighthouses and firestations.  The critical factor is that the property complies with building regulations. And, of course, that the applicant can afford the monthly repayments on their mortgage."

What to do if you're considering buying an unusual property

People considering buying an unusual property should seek the advice of a professional valuer and discuss their plans with a selection of lenders.  

It's worth bearing in mind that the lender will base their decision on both the quality of the renovation and the re-saleability of the property so keep these parameters in mind when you are viewing properties.

What to do if you're looking to renovate an unusual property

For the ambitious amongst us, who fancy taking on an unusual property as a renovation project most lenders will consider releasing money in stages. In effect, you will be taking on a self-build project rather than buying a house so policies will vary from lender to lender.  For example, Halifax will recommend that an unusual property is architect developed and will only release funds on certified properties and will only do so in stages.

Don't over commit

"Whilst it's good to follow your dream it's important not to get carried away". Is the final word from Mark who advises:  “Before you commit yourself to anything ensure that you’re not looking at your prospective property through rose-tinted spectacles.”

“Whilst the idea of living in a renovated church, windmill or school can conjure up all sorts of romantic connotations and idyllic images, an unusual property could need an unusual level of care. Old schoolhouses, for instance, often have large windows and churches could have valuable glass that needs maintaining.”

There are a number of websites and organisations which can offer you advice on converting properties including Home Buildings website and Build the Dream –

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