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    Can You Buy Listed Buildings?

    Found the listed building of your dreams but not sure where to start with buying it? Looking to take a pivotal step on the property ladder with a unique purchase? Whether you’re an experienced homeowner or simply appreciate beautiful pieces of history, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our answer to the popular question: can you buy listed buildings?

    What is a Listed Property?

    A listed building is a particular structure that is protected under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The building will usually have a special historical or architectural interest – many are centuries old, containing a rich tapestry of history and reflecting a preservation of the culture of the time during which they were constructed.

    Because of their special status, these buildings require the protection placed on them by the Act. While this is absolutely necessary, it does mean there will be certain restrictions and requirements when it comes to modifying these buildings, ones that you wouldn’t normally find with other kinds of property.

    Anyone can nominate a building to be listed, and you can find the entire collection of all of England’s listed buildings here.

    How Do You Grade Listed Buildings? 

    Grade I Listed Building

    Grade I listed buildings are deemed to hold exceptional interest. In England, only 2.5% of listed buildings fall under this category. A notable example is the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. 

    Grade II Listed Building

    Grade 2 listed buildings are split into two categories. The first, Grade II, is the most common – these are deemed of special interest, with 91.7% of all listed buildings falling into this category. An example of a Grade II is London’s BT Tower.

    Grade II* Listed Buildings

    The other type of Grade 2 listed building is Grade II* – these only make up a very small percentage of 5.8%, and are considered to be particularly important buildings, holding more than just special interest. A notable example would be the Battersea Power Station in London.

    Who Can Own a Listed Building?

    Anyone can purchase a listed building, as long as they obtain listed-building consent prior to purchase, as well as planning consent if they wish to make any changes to the interior or exterior of the property.

    How Do I Buy a Listed Building?

    Although it might seem like a bit of a daunting prospect, purchasing a listed property is a wonderful real estate opportunity. It’s your own unique chance to own a piece of history, and as long as you’ve got the right support systems in place, it’s easily achievable.


    First things first – reach out to an experienced conservation surveyor who can help guide you through all the intricacies of listed buildings. Surveys for these kinds of properties will often be more involved than with a standard piece of real estate, so it’s important to have a professional on hand who is familiar with the legal ins and outs of these particular kinds of buildings.


    If you’re looking to own a listed building, you’ll also have to ensure you’re covered by the correct insurance policy for your particular property. This is due to damage and repairs – if there was any extensive damage to a listed building due to unforeseen circumstances, eg. a fire, the building would then have to be reconstructed back to its original form. This could be extremely costly and time-consuming, so ensuring you’re completely covered insurance-wise is crucial in order to avoid racking up unnecessary expenses.


    It’s entirely possible to get a mortgage on a listed building – the process is just slightly different to that of a regular estate. As these buildings hold such special interest, banks and lenders will usually require a deeper level of input from you, possibly with a report from a professional valuation in order to determine the marketability of the property.

    By speaking to an expert, you can quickly ascertain which mortgage is going to best fit your unique situation and circumstances, helping to strengthen your application and successfully sort out a loan.

    Questions to Ask When Buying a Listed Property

    As with the nature of these older, historical architectural sites, it’s important to check over a few key areas before you commit to a sale:

    • Why has this home been listed? Here’s where that list comes in handy – familiarise yourself with the history of the building so you have a clearer picture of what you will and won’t be able to alter once you’re the owner.
    • Are there any damp issues? Lots of these older buildings will be subject to dampness – utilise the assistance of your specialist surveyor to properly assess any potential problems.
    • Has previous work been authorised? It’s a good idea to double-check whether the previous owners authorised work they may have carried out – once the building has been passed over to you, you will become responsible for this regardless, meaning you’ll also be liable for any mistakes or errors they may have made during their ownership.

    Grade 2 Listed Building Do’s and Don’ts

    If you’re looking to purchase a listed building, chances are it will fall under the Grade II category. Most of the time, buyers are primarily concerned with what they can and can’t do to these historical sites, but the good news is that Grade II buildings are not as complex as the other two categories might be.

    • What can you do to a Grade 2 listed building? Generally speaking, a Grade II listed building will not require listed building consent for general maintenance and repair work.
    • What can’t you do to a Grade 2 listed building? In terms of Grade 2 Listed Building rules and restrictions, anything that is deemed as a ‘material change’ will require official consent, even something as small as painting a door a different colour.

    As with all areas of real estate, it’s always a good idea to check before you conduct any maintenance, repair, or material work to a property. The majority of local authority planning departments will employ a conservation officer dedicated to assisting in these areas, so reach out and get their advice on what to do – you can find your local authority here.

    Looking to make an offer on the listed building of your dreams? Our expert team of professional lettings and estate agents is here to help support you every step of the way. Our crucial knowledge of the local property market and combined years of experience in real estate means we’re fully equipped to guide you through each and every complexity of the process, simplifying and streamlining the buying experience for you. Get in touch today to find out more about how we can help you in your property journey.