Is it better to buy a new build or an older property?

Is it better to buy a new build or an older property?

When you’re buying a property, there are lots of things to consider, such as its size, location and price. But another factor to think about is whether it’s better to buy a new build or an older property. The type you choose will mostly be down to personal preference but we’ve detailed the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you make a decision.

How do new builds and older properties differ?

A new build is a property that’s brand new and has never been lived in before. An older property, on the other hand, is one that’s had a previous owner. Modern homes can be referred to as new builds but if they’ve had at least one owner, this isn’t the case.

The pros and cons of buying a new build

There are various benefits and drawbacks to owning a new-build property, which we’ve detailed below.

Benefits of a new build

  • No chain. When you’re moving into a new build, you don’t have to wait for someone else to move out.
  • No risk of being gazumped. When buying straight from the home builder, you don’t need to worry about another buyer gazumping you.
  • A blank canvas. As you’re the first person to live in your new-build property in London, it’s a completely blank canvas for you to personalise to your taste.
  • No work is needed. The property has been newly built so you can look forward to moving in and getting settled straight away without having to carry out any work. The only issues you may encounter will be minimal snags that can be easily rectified.
  • It comes with a warranty. New builds usually come with a 10-year warranty that’s supplied by the developer. This gives you peace of mind that any issues will be fixed. These warranties tend to provide more cover within the first 2 years so be sure to check the warranty details when buying your home.
  • Energy efficient. New builds are constructed with modern building materials and have to meet high standards. This means that your new-build home will be very well insulated, include an energy-efficient heating system and have double glazing as well as low-energy lighting. If appliances have been included in the property, they will be energy efficient ones too. Having an energy-efficient home in Bexley will not only reduce your energy consumption but will also reduce carbon emissions and your energy bills. Favourable mortgage terms are offered by some lenders to encourage the buying of homes that are energy efficient.
  • Eco-friendly features. New builds tend to have various features to encourage eco-friendly living. For example, dual flushes help to reduce the amount of water usage in the home. Charging points for electric cars and storage areas for bikes promote a greener way of getting around. Some developments also feature outdoor areas that attract wildlife, such as bees and birds.
  • Can be built off-plan. If you buy your new build off-plan, you can have a say in the design stage. For example, you may be able to give some input into the layout of your home or you may be able to choose your preferred fittings.
  • An open-plan layout. New builds often have an open-plan design rather than lots of small rooms. This gives the appearance of more space and allows air and light to flow freely throughout your home. Each section of the space usually has multiple functions to make the most of it.
  • Smart features. With a modern design, new build-homes usually have smart features. For example, a smart thermostat, smart lighting and smart home security devices.
  • Safe and secure. The high standards for new builds mean that they incorporate various security and safety measures. These can include smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, secure locks on the windows and doors and an alarm system, for example. These safety and security features may make your new build insurance cover
  • Some developers offer incentives to encourage you to buy from them. They may cover your stamp duty, pay for the cost of the carpets or upgrade the fittings in the property, for example.
  • Government schemes. Various schemes are available to help you buy a new-build property, such as the First Homes scheme and Deposit Unlock.

Drawbacks of a new build

  • The build may be delayed. If the property is still being built, you may experience a delay. If this delay goes on for too long, it can have frustrating and expensive consequences. For example, it may affect your mortgage offer, completion date and the sale of an existing property.
  • Thin walls. New builds tend to be constructed with thinner walls than older properties. This means that you may hear some of the noise caused by your neighbours.
  • Smaller rooms. New-build properties are usually smaller than older properties. This means that the room sizes are often smaller.
  • A lack of space on the development. Developers tend to maximise the space for building homes on the land. This means that new builds are often very close together with limited space for parking or gardens.
  • No character. New builds tend to have a similar appearance. Some developers apply restrictive covenants to ensure that the properties on the development have a uniform style.
  • The property may drop in value. As new builds are brand new, you’re often charged a new-build premium by the developer. Once you move in, however, the property is no longer new, which can instantly lower its value. This increases your risk of negative equity until the property’s value increases again in the future.
  • Often located on the outskirts of a town or city. As older properties are already established with a more central location in towns or cities, new builds tend to be built where there’s more room on the outskirts.

The pros and cons of buying an older home

Here, we’ve detailed the benefits and drawbacks of owning an older property:

Benefits of an older property

  • More character. Older properties have a charm about them that you just don’t get with new builds. Steeped in history, their original features reflect the period of the property. These can include large sash windows, ornate fireplaces, parquet flooring and decorative cornices.
  • More spacious. Older properties tend to be much larger than new builds. This means that the rooms are very spacious and usually have higher ceilings.
  • Thick walls. Unlike new builds, older properties have usually been built with brick or stone. This means that the walls are much thicker, reducing any noise disturbances from neighbours.
  • Ample parking. Period properties usually have long driveways and ample space around them that allows for parking.
  • A large, established garden. Older properties often have larger plots so you’ll benefit from a large, established garden. This provides you with privacy and more outdoor space, which is especially beneficial for families. An established garden just needs to be tended to rather than created from scratch as in a new-build home. The extra space also gives you the option to expand.
  • You can check the property’s condition before buying it. It’s always recommended to have a survey carried out on an older property before proceeding with the purchase. That way, you know its structural condition and any potential issues that you may need to deal with in the future.
  • The value can be tracked over time. You can check the sales history for an older property to see how its value has changed over the years.
  • You can negotiate the price. Whereas new builds have a price that’s set by the developer, you can negotiate with the seller when buying an older property.
  • You can increase your property’s value. Older properties have the potential to be improved and doing so can increase their value. For example, you can do a loft conversion, build an extension, update the interior and incorporate eco-friendly features.
  • It has an established location. Older properties are often located in central areas so you’ll benefit from being close to the amenities. With an established location, you’ll also find that there’s a sense of community, which you won’t find when moving to a new-build development.

Drawbacks of an older property

  • When buying an older property, you may find yourself stuck in a long chain. This can be stressful and there’s always a risk that the chain might collapse.
  • Wear and tear. As older properties have had several owners over the years, they suffer from wear and tear. You may need to spend more money dealing with issues that haven’t been attended to before. For example, leaks, worn-out features, missing roof tiles or damp. Some original features may be hard to find and, therefore, more expensive to replace.
  • Need work. It’s not just wear and tear that you need to think about when buying an older property. More extensive work may be needed. For example, they often have old plumbing systems or outdated electrical wiring that you’ll need to update. You may want to replace an old bathroom suite or replace the outdated kitchen. All of these can be very expensive to deal with. The materials used in the construction of older properties are also usually more expensive to replace.
  • Not energy efficient. The central heating system in an older property may be old and need replacing to be more energy efficient. Older properties can also have draughty windows and lack effective insulation. You need to consider the high cost of your energy bills and the additional costs needed to make your home more energy efficient.

New build vs older home — which is better?

As you can see, there are lots of pros and cons when it comes to buying each type of property. On the whole, new builds are more expensive to buy but additional costs may be needed when moving into an older property. Older properties are bigger with unique features but new builds are energy efficient and there’s no chain to worry about. It’s really down to your personal preference once you’ve weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of each.

When you’re ready to start viewing properties, we can arrange your mortgage in principle. Our mortgage brokers can discuss the types of mortgages available with you, such as new build mortgages, first-time buyer mortgages, buy-to-let mortgages, self-employed mortgages and bad credit mortgages, to name a few. Just give us a call on 01322 907 000 to get started, whether you prefer to buy a new build or an older property.