Everyone’s idea of a perfect home is different.
While some house hunters dream of moving into a just built property where everything is brand new and nothing needs doing, other home buyers relish the idea of an older property they can make into their home.
Whatever your preference, the most important thing is that you choose a home that fits your personal circumstances now. You’ll also need to ensure it provide a great place for you to live for years to come.
The process of finding and securing your ideal home can be complex, so here’s a handy checklist to get you started.
You may have noticed that there’s a lot of new residential development going on, particularly in the South East.
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or thinking of moving up the property ladder, this means a greater supply of new housing available. Keep an open mind and look at the pros and cons of new build homes before you decide to make an offer.
Who wouldn’t want a perfect new home?
The first thing every prospective homeowner thinks about when picturing a new build is its pristine condition.
Imagine moving into a property that’s just been built, where everything is shiny and new. The paintwork is perfect, the carpets are immaculate, cutting-edge appliances are newly installed and everything works as it should.
What’s more, a contemporary property comes with full building regulations compliance, meaning you won’t have to worry about things like electrical safety or heating efficiency. What could possibly be better?
But take off your rose tinted spectacles and you’ll find that in reality, very few new homes are actually perfect when you move in. In fact, over 90% of new-build buyers experience defects with their new home.
Once you’re in occupation, it’s standard practice to draw up a snagging list, where you record all the little niggles and imperfections that need to be rectified.
Whether the problem is something as small as a cracked tile in the bathroom or as serious as leaking pipework, these snags are typically covered by your NHBC warranty. However, getting the builders to come back may is not always a seamless process or a satisfactory experience.
Your best bet is to get a surveyor involved. They can inspect the condition of the property and provide a condition report or carry out a snagging survey to add professional ‘clout’ in your dealings with the house builder.
What’s not to like about ‘blank canvas’ interiors?
Buying a home that’s been lived in will typically require some redecorating. Whether you don’t like the colour scheme in the living room or the bathroom needs replacing, it’s extra work you’ll have to budget time and money for.
The beauty about being the first owner is that you have a blank canvas to play with.
No need to worry about the dubious decorating choices made by previous owners, with a new-built you usually get to have an input on the interior décor, especially if you buy off plan. Here’s an example of how it works. From kitchen flooring to power sockets, there will be options to handpick a wide range of details.
Too good to be true? Well, your choices will obviously be limited by what the developer offers. If you love neutral colour palettes and identikit room schemes, you should be fine.
However, if you’re itching to put your own bold, personal stamp on the property, chances are that you’ll have to change the magnolia walls and beige carpets at your own cost. Sometimes, premium (payable) upgrade options are available.
Bijou homes or ‘rabbit-hutch Britain’?
It is no secret that house builders seek to maximise profits by fitting as many homes as they can into a development. The knock-on effect is that these homes have to be designed to a compact scale – ‘deceptively spacious’ is the hackneyed estate agent jargon.
This has a direct impact on plot sizes, room sizes, storage opportunities and garden space. Did you know that Britain builds the smallest homes in Europe (by floor area)?
If you are looking for a family home with plenty of space, new-builds may not deliver the best value for you. The compact dimensions may suit you better if you’re focused on downsizing or rightsizing, or looking for a low maintenance garden.
No property chain, no problem?
Buying and selling property can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. It’s reportedly more stressful than bankruptcy, divorce and the death of a loved one! The longer the property chain, the greater the chances of a transaction falling through.
It can be a frustrating and emotionally and financially draining process.
The advantage of buying a new-build is that there’s a definitive end to the chain, which should make life a lot easier.
That said, you are dependent on the property developer to keep his end of the bargain. Your home may not actually have been built yet, or you could live on a building site for weeks or months until the neighbourhood is habitable.
And that’s without any problem regarding construction delays, the pressure to exchange contracts early or underwhelming aftersales care, all of which can add to a less than positive customer experience.
The savvy new-build customers should be cautious, aiming to agree a ‘long stop’ completion date with the house builder including compensation if the house isn’t finished in time. It also helps to speak to buyers who have already moved in and get a feel for their experience.
Are you getting value for money?
It is a fact that the privilege of being the first person to own a home comes with a premium price tag.
Much like buying a brand new car, the value of your asset will depreciate as soon as you walk through the door. Research has shown that compared to buying a pre-loved home, new-builds cost 16% more to buy.
In order to give yourself the chance to recoup the differential, you’ll need to stay put for long enough for property values to catch up. To add value, you may also need to make home improvements. This could be project such as building extensions, converting a garage, or garden landscaping.
That said, purchasing a property straight from a developer can come with valuable additional perks. These are often things that you wouldn’t get with a ‘second hand’ building.
While there may be less wiggle room in the purchase price, you may be able to negotiate extras. These could be things such as free upgrades for fixtures and fittings, or appliances and carpets included in the price. You may even be able to get your Stamp Duty paid for you!