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New-build or pre-owned homes?

Deciding on a property to buy involves many decisions and one of these is whether to buy a new-build or a pre-owned property. Personal preference is a key factor in making this decision, and there are pros and cons to both new and pre-owned homes.

New-build properties: pros

  • Energy efficiency: New-builds will typically employ modern, more energy-efficient building techniques. Many modern new-builds are well-insulated and have double-glazing as standard, making them cheaper to heat than their older counterparts
  • No property chain: The lack of a property chain can be very appealing to many buyers and once the loan is approved on a new-build property, the owner can move in. With pre-owned properties, a long chain may be involved
  • Incentives: Occasionally there are deals available from housing developers to buyers to attract them to new-builds. These may include the payment of Stamp Duty, the offer of cash-back or incentives relating to fixtures and fittings
  • Safe and secure: New builds usually conform to high safety standards. They are built using fire-retardant materials, have alarms and fire doors fitted, and often have burglar alarms and other security features, such as security lighting
  • Warranty: A brand-new home should be under warranty, so if you find anything wrong with it within a specified time period, the developer may be obliged to put it right

New-build properties: cons

  • Thin walls: The walls in some new builds may be made from plasterboard, making them more susceptible to damage and less soundproofed than brick walls
  • Lack of parking: New-build properties can be more concentrated and less spaced out than older ones, meaning that parking can sometimes be limited
  • Untested: Nobody has lived in a new-build property before, so there may be teething issues that have not yet been identified
  • Fittings and furnishings: There are often a number of costs that need to be immediately met when you move into a new build, such as curtains, towel rails, coat hooks and a phone connection. These are things that are often left behind in a pre-owned property
  • Garden: The gardens of new homes lack the years of attention and nurture that more established gardens have. Any shrubs and trees are unlikely to have reached maturity making them more vulnerable than plants that have had more time to settle and grow
  • Decorating: While you may be keen to begin decorating your new home, you may not be able to paint the walls until the property has settled and dried out thoroughly

Pre-owned properties: pros

  • Tried and tested: There are sometimes minor snags in new-build properties. These have usually been identified and fixed in older, more settled properties
  • Thicker walls: Older properties often have thicker and more solid internal walls. These are able to withstand knocks better and also make rooms better soundproofed, although they can dampen the strength of a Wi-Fi signal
  • Space and light: Some new-build homes have fewer or smaller windows than pre-owned properties. Older homes are often airier and allow in more natural light
  • Character and history: Older properties can be very characterful, and looking into their history may appeal to some owners
  • Mature garden: Older properties with gardens may have more established, mature trees and shrubs

Pre-owned properties: cons

  • Unknowns: When you buy a pre-owned property, there is always the “what if” factor of the unknown. The possibility that the previous owner had a mould condition and covered it up cosmetically can be a possibility. However, sellers are required to sign a pre-existing conditions disclosure stating any problems they are aware of with the property they are selling
  • Fittings and furnishings: while older properties often come with fittings and fixtures that are left behind, these may not always be efficient or in good condition and may cost money to update or keep in working condition

Other considerations when deciding between new-build or pre-owned properties

When looking around a show home, keep in mind that the version you are looking at may only be a general representation of the home you end up buying, as there may be a range of properties available and the show home will be showcasing elements of each of them.

Older properties may be within a conservation area, which can place restrictions on any modifications you may hope to carry out. Some older properties may have a listed status which will place further limitations on the type of modifications and repairs that can be carried out.

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