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Old vs New: the benefits of buying a new build property

Rob Carter, marketing manager at Guinness Homes

For many first-time buyers searching for the right home, deciding what kind of property to buy can be a challenge. Whether it’s committing to a renovation project or purchasing a state-of-the-art new build home, there’s an option for every situation. However, the benefits of buying new don’t just stop at availability; there are many financial, environmental and logistical factors where new builds come out on top.

One advantage of purchasing a new build is that buyers aren’t caught in a chain, relying on other people’s sales to complete in order to move into their house. Horror stories about chains collapsing as the result of uncontrollable factors such as mortgage applications being rejected, applications taking too long to be processed by professionals, or one of the buyers in the chain pulling out unexpectedly are common. The fewer links in the buying chain there are, the more chance a buyer has of a successful, smoother and less stressful process.

Another benefit of buying new is that the buyer knows exactly what they are getting. Everything from the foundations to the fixtures are new, meaning that buyers don’t have to worry as much about unforeseen repairs or hidden surprises. With deposits already high, older buildings often require repairs or renovation works that only come to light following a homebuyers’ survey, bringing additional financial pressure to the transaction that could make the property unaffordable. Conversely, 90% of new build homes are given a warranty from the National Housing Building Council (NHBC), which covers many repair and renovation projects on the house for 10 years.

New build homes are also expected to be built to rigorous modern safety standards, utilising the latest in fire resistant materials and smoke alarm technology, for example. Most developers also fit safety measures, such as security alarms and locks on the windows, as standard. With security not guaranteed in many older properties, owners of new builds can take comfort in the fact that they do not have to install these often expensive measures themselves, helping to save money and give peace of mind.

New builds can also save money long term as they tend to be more energy efficient than older homes, with the latest energy saving technology such as modern insulation and double glazing often installed as standard. In fact, the Government’s latest figures show that 85% of new build properties fall into the top two Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) bands, A or B.

With energy prices still a concern for many homeowners and those looking for a new home, a new build property may become more attractive as it offers the opportunity to save money on bills in the long-term and helps to curb costs if prices do remain high, or even continue to rise. Ensuring a property is energy efficient from the start is the best way to reduce costs long-term, and while older properties can be retrofitted with energy efficient measures, some methods, such as installing new insulation, can be logistically difficult, expensive and time-consuming.

New build properties additionally often support alternative routes to homebuying, including shared ownership. This method allows buyers to purchase a percentage of the property from the housing developer, often between 25 and 75% of the market value, often requiring a much lower upfront deposit. In some cases, this deposit could be just five percent of the share price being bought, demonstrating the affordability of shared ownership for buyers of all budgets. A lower share purchase also means a lower monthly mortgage, with the addition of a small monthly rent on the unpaid shares due to the developer.

Once the initial shares are purchased, owners can continue to buy additional shares over time in line with their financial circumstances, in a process known as ‘staircasing’. As an owner’s shares in the property increase, the monthly rent to the housing provider will simultaneously decrease, and many shared-ownership residents go on to achieve 100% ownership of their properties over time. Designed to make modern, practical homes affordable to all, shared ownership allows more people to buy quality new build homes in a way that suits them.

New build properties are sometimes underrated, but their wealth of benefits means that they should be more carefully considered. While some factors like safety features and repairs may not be the top priority for many buyers, they are important to consider as any damage and subsequent repairs could make for a costly situation in the future. New builds not only give prospective buyers an affordable option that is ready to go as soon as the keys are received, but the lack of an incumbent owner and buying chain, the high safety standards and futureproofing can also often make for a hassle-free buying process.