Thanks for your enquiry.
Don't be too petrified- it probably isn't as bad as you think!
I would have though the Valuation would have said how many years are left on the Lease, and it would be good to know, but here is my advice-
All Mortgage Lenders will grant a Mortgage on a Leasehold provided there is at least 60/65 years left on the Lease. The longer there is left on the Lease the better, but provided there is an excess of 75 years, this won't cause an issue when you eventually sell.
It is true that some clients are put off buyng a Leasehold, especially if they are unfamiliar with the principle. On the basis that the majority of properties in the neighbourhood are Leasehold will however help as many would be Buyers will be familiar with Leaseholds.
The only difference between a Leasehold bungalow and a Freehold bungalow, is that you will be responsible for paying a yearly ground rent to the Freeholder. Although this amount can vary, it is normally anything from £10 to £100.
The only other difference is that there MAY be a clause in the Lease stipulating that you would need Freeholder's consent to carry out any extensions- your Solicitor will be able to advise you on this once he has seen the Lease.
Legally, once you have owned a Leasehold for 2 years, you are automatically entitled to buy the Freehold at a cost. Although the cost depends entirely on how many years are left on the Lease (the longer there is, the cheaper it is) and the valuation of the property, on today's figures you are looking at a very approximate figure of £3,000-£4,000. The Seller will be able to obtain a figure from the Freeholder for a nominal fee.
The way forward for you-
1. On the basis that you were not made aware it was Leasehold, you can ask the Seller to acquire the Freehold now (this would be completed on the same day as you complete your Purchase). Whether you can get the Seller to pay, all comes down to the bargainning powers of the parties. If the Seller won't pay, you then have to decide whether to still ask the Seller to acquire it but you pay for it OR you buy it as a Leasehold.
2. You proceed on a Leasehold basis and buy the Freehold in 2 years time.If you decide on this option, it is whether the Seller is prepared to reduce the Purchase Price to reflect this. Again, this comes down to negotiation.
3. You walk away and put this down to a bad experience.
I hope this assists, and if so, I would be grateful if you could leave positive feedback.
However, please let me know if you require any further clarification.