There’s just something about moving into a home that no one has ever lived in before which appeals to many buyers. You are the property’s very first resident, and the first to put your mark on the place. It’s an exciting prospect, but new build homes do seem to get themselves in the headlines fairly regularly as their owners voice concerns over issues they’ve encountered unexpectedly when settling in to their new home. So is it better to look for new build homes, or purchase an existing home? To answer that question, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of new builds:
Advantages of New Build Homes
- It may be easier to get a mortgage: If you’re a first time buyer, you might find it’s easier to get a mortgage on a new build thanks to the Help-to-Buy and Shared Ownership schemes, which are typically only available for new build properties.
- There’s no need for DIY: Not only are new build homes modern and up-to-date, which removes the need for costly and time consuming repair or upgrade work, some aspects can also be tailored to your preferences if you buy off-plan. This means you are very unlikely to move in and face the prospect of ripping out the kitchen or renovating the bathroom.
- There’s no upwards chain: New builds eliminate one of the most frustrating sticking points in a property purchase; the upwards chain. You don’t have sellers who can decide to pull out, or introduce delays due to problems with their own move.
- Lower household bills: According to Government reports, 84% of new build homes in the UK have an A or B efficiency rating, compared to just 2.1% of existing homes. This can mean your utility bills are significantly lower than they would be in an older home, allow you to allocate less to the monthly household budget.
- New home warranties: Many new homes include defects and structural warranties that cover a wide range of possible problems that might arise in your home. Depending on the provider, this warranty may last for up to 10 years.
Disadvantages of New Build Homes
- Value decline: If you want a new build because you’ll be the first to live there, remember that this sales perk disappears when you move in, resulting in an initial value drop. However, new builds do increase in value quicker than older homes.
- Leasehold restrictions: Many new builds are sold as leasehold properties, rather than freehold, which can mean that there are restrictions on what you can and can’t do with your home. You may also need to pay leasehold charges, too.
- Character: New builds are typically very modern, and while they may look clean and fresh, they do lack the character and period features of older properties. However, whether this is truly a con comes down to personal preference.
- Visibility: At the end of the day, you’re buying a house that you’ve never seen. Many times, this works out for the best, but it’s important to understand that there is the potential for you to be disappointed with the realities of the home when buying a new build off plan.
Is a New Build Home Worth it?
It depends on a number of aspects. If you want an old home brimming with history, character and the potential to renovate, then a new build won’t be for you. However, if you’re looking for a modern property – where the walls are all at 90 degree angles – and you qualify for assistance through one of the Help-to-Buy schemes, then new build homes can be great, especially if you keep in mind our five top tips for buying a new build:
1. Visit other developments if you can to get a feel for what the developers have achieved previously. Check out the quality of the builds, and the community feel.
2. Visit the site if possible. It’s important to remember that what developers put in their marketing materials about the local area may not always be indicative of what’s really there.
3. Work with a good conveyancing solicitor who can read through the specifications of the plot and check out any unusual clauses before you sign on the dotted line.
4. Be flexible. While there’s no chain, moving dates are still subject to change should there be a delay in the building schedule, or delays in approval by Building Control.
5. Be open-minded. Contrary to popular belief new builds aren’t perfect. There may be a loose tile here, or a carpet snag there. Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s not worth it.