Yesterday, I phoned my solicitor and estate agent. Solicitor had been sitting around waiting to receive information, and had been for about a month. I suggested she attempt to find the information, rather than waiting for it to appear.
The estate agent was enthusiastic (as all salesmen are), and told me that he'd discovered that the 70 years that the Mortgage Code stated that the lease needed wasn't true, and infact it only needed (mortgage period + 30 years) - which would mean the flat would still be saleable in 5 years, my estimate of how long I'll be living there. w00t?
Not w00t. Today I spoke to the financial advisor, who told me that his original information about needing 70 years was still true, and the estate agent "shouldn't have told [me] that". However, he said he was fairly sure that I could get a mortgage, but I must be aware that if I wanted one, I'd be stuck with a flat that had a short lease, which could cause obvious difficulties selling the place later.
He also said that the Mortgage Code requiring 70 years was to ensure that the mortgage lender could sell on the place if they needed to repossess it. Nice to be reminded that they've got my best interests at heart :-/. The reason I could (probably) still get a mortgage was Cambridge is such a hot housing market.
Thinking about things, the lease needs extending regardless, and the vendors are saying they don't want to do it at their expense. It doesn't really matter if I do it now, or when I want to sell. Right now the best I can hope for is a negotiated split of costs with the vendors, and it looks quite possibly that they wouldn't agree to such a split. If I leave it until I want to sell, at worst I pay the same full costs I probably have to now, at best I dump the entire problem onto my buyer, middle case I split costs with my buyer.
I suspect I'll have more spare money in a few years than I do now. So I should just go ahead and buy. Property in Cambridge isn't getting any cheaper at the moment, and this is still a reasonable flat for a reasonable price, in a good location.
OK, that's me convinced :-)