Buying a new build home versus buying an existing home
To a First Time Buyer, both new builds and existing homes have advantages and disadvantages - you just have to decide what you want.
Everyone will have their own reasons for choosing either a new or older building when purchasing their first home, and ultimately it’s about finding the home that’s right for you. First Time Buyers should consider what they want in a property, and make sure to visit examples of both to get an idea.
Reasons to buy an older home
Neighbourhood and community. Most existing properties are situated within established neighbourhoods; it is quite possible for you to get to know your neighbours before you even move in. The area may also have an established Neighbourhood Watch action group in order to maintain the safety and wellbeing of occupants. There may also be more nearby amenities, like shops or restaurants, whereas new builds are built on lots most of the time.
Character. Older properties have had time to develop a sense of character and a unique history that you will become a part of. Perhaps you are a fan of the previous owner’s handiwork in the garden, or you simply prefer the idea of living in an older house with period features, where you can add your own mod cons. First Time Buyers will often want to personalise a home, and an existing home gives you more of a chance to adapt and change things, including building work.
Making an offer. With an existing property, what you see is what you get. If you have done your homework with a home survey and read the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and you are happy with their findings, then you can bid on a property with confidence. This is not the necessarily the case when you buy off-plan, although new-build homes are supplied by law with an EPC and many carry an National House-Building Council (NHBC) warranty.
Negotiating power. With existing properties the purchase price is negotiable between the buyer and the seller. The mutually agreed price may be influenced by consumer demand, the general condition of the property as reflected by the survey, and the desire of the owners to sell up and move on. Also older properties are more likely to have issues brought up in your survey, which in a way is a disadvantage but it does give First Time Buyers a little more space to negotiate.
Reasons to buy a newly built home
Personal taste. Moving into a newly built property gives you a clean slate to fit your first home with the tiling, flooring, decor and appliances suited to your personal tastes. This is sometimes not quite as easy with an existing property, as the home will have been decorated and fitted out to suit the tastes of the current occupants; consequently it may prove harder to start afresh without considerable work. However, bear in mind that often new builds need time to 'breathe' so you may be advised not to hang anything up or paint the walls for up to a year after buying.
No moving chain. Purchasing a brand new home means that you are not part of a moving chain that could threaten the completion date of your property purchase. It also means there's no chances of gazumping, and no personal issues with the 'owner'. This eliminates the stress and uncertainty that can sometimes come with purchasing an existing property as a First Time Buyer. However, if there are any delays in completing the building work this will potentially affect when you can move in.
High specifications. Most new builds come fitted with modern, high-specification appliances and materials, usually more so than older properties. New homes must comply with the latest building regulations, ensuring the most up-to-date heating systems and insulation. This is often particularly attractive to First Time Buyers who simply want to settle into their first home rather than worrying about potentially expensive DIY and maintenance costs.
A new community. Moving into an established neighbourhood may not prove an attraction to some First Time Buyers. You may be more excited about a new home on a new estate, with the opportunity to make new friends as part of an emerging community – you are also likely to find other First Time Buyers who you can share experiences with.
Energy efficient. It is said new-build properties are six times more energy efficient than existing, older homes, generating around 60 per cent less carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per household. Living in an energy-efficient home can therefore save you hundreds of pounds a year on energy bills.
Warranties. Around 80 per cent of new-build homes carry the NHBC 10-year warranty, so the quality of your new home is automatically insured against the problems sometimes associated with new builds. NHBC is the standards-setting body and leading home construction warranty and insurance provider for new and newly converted homes.
The standard of new properties in the UK has never been better in terms of energy efficiency and building regulations. However the market for buying existing properties offers some lower house values to allow First Time Buyers to get on the property ladder.
It's important to think carefully about what you want from a property, and what you might want in the future, before you make your decision. Remember to also ask the right questions when buying a new build home from a developer.
Updated November 2022 by Jeremy Greer
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