Property Wisdom – Nimble Up With New Build
With the number of new homes on the market on the up, buyers should embrace the trend for turnkey property for gain, advises property expert, Laura Henderson
Go back a decade or so and buyer types were easy to peg. Die hard traditionalists had a penchant for inglenook fireplaces and chunky beams; while move-with-the-times modernists championed the easy-care attributes of new-builds. For contemporary fans, character properties equated to a lifetime of big bills and drafty rooms, while new-builds were typecast as faceless and bland by the old school. Thankfully times have changed, with a thawing of attitudes fashioned by a new generation of property styles and designs. Now, with the government’s announcement to ease the UK’s housing shortage by 2016, the number of new build properties is set to far outrank the number of traditional homes on the open market. So what are the upsides of buying new?
You can kiss goodbye to onward chains, blind bidding and gazumping.
Property styles cover the whole spectrum from turnkey flats, spacious penthouses and loft conversions, to mock period mansions and eco friendly homes. Design layouts also have specific buyers in mind – singletons, families, and couples, with square footage flexibility you’d struggle to find in an older home.
New-build homes are on average four times more energy efficient than older homes. Most come with insulation and double-glazing as standard. Some even offer a ‘green’ choice with solar powered heating and built in water saving features, saving you hundreds of pounds on your household bills. Repairs and maintenance costs will also be kept to a minimum with no faulty electrics, leaky roofs or rotting windows to attend to.
Buy a new-build and you get a 10-year build warranty from the NHBC (National House Building Council), or other insurer, one that’s likely to include smoke alarms, high performance locks, burglar alarms and security lighting. Standard developer extras also include fixtures and fittings, carpets and white goods.
What to Check
New builds market at a significant premium – so always compare existing property prices in your chosen area, and shop around with other developers/builders.
Beware of “cash incentives” such as deposit and stamp duty paid, or cash towards your mortgage payment – you’ll still have to shell out this money first, as it’s only redeemable upon completion of the sale.
Don’t fall head over heels for the show-home – the look-don’t-touch kitchens and hi-spec bathrooms are likely to be upgraded versions of the standard offering. Different house builders offer different extras so find out exactly what’s thrown in as part of the deal. Add-on costs such as carpets, curtains and flooring can quickly mount up.
Buying new means a chain-free purchase, but you’ll still have your builder’s schedule to comply with. You’ll be expected to put down a reservation deposit, sort out your mortgage and exchange contracts within a month. If you’re buying off-plan, (before building work is complete), delays are not uncommon. The contract will only specify that completion is “on notice” – sometimes several weeks after the building is finished.
Recently completed homes can have “snags”, minor defects such as chipped tiles and dodgy plumbing that remain after the building has been signed off. The NHBC 10-year warranty only covers major structural issues, so where possible, get a deadline for remedying snags written into the contract.
Laura Henderson is a property columnist, author and investment expert. Her latest book Tricks and Mortar: The Little Book of Property Wisdom (£12.99 Book Guild) is out now.