Posted on 11th August 2017

Old or New? Which is Right For You?

Martin Williamson, Director and Head of Residential Property
Martin Williamson, Director and Head of Residential Property

When buying a home, there are several decisions you need to make. Will you go for a house or a flat? How many bedrooms will you need? Are you happy with on-street parking, or is a drive a necessity? Inevitably, one of the decisions you will need to make is whether to buy a new build home, or an older property.

A new build can seem instantly attractive, as they are fresh and, as the name suggests, brand new. You don’t have to see past someone else’s dodgy wallpaper choices, or sniff around for damp. In theory, there are no dark secrets – what you see is what you get. Brand new properties also tend to have the added bonus that there is rarely the opportunity for things to go wrong. You tend to get a ten-year guarantee, which means you won’t have to spend money in the early days fixing any major issues.

New build houses also tend to be more energy efficient than older properties, with insulation and double-glazing included as standard. New homes must have an Energy Efficiency rating of C or above, and can save households up to £1,500 per year in energy bill compared to Victorian properties. There are also tempting schemes available, particularly for buyers making their first tentative steps onto the property ladder, such a Help to Buy loans and ISAs.

However, for some people, the new build just won’t hold the same charm that you find in an older property. Period homes, such as Georgian or Victorian properties, are often quirky and unique. Some buyers’ hearts will flutter at the sight of a sweeping staircase or huge, ornate wooden doors. If you are someone whose eyes light up at the sight of original vintage hearth, a boxy new build will never light your fire.

Older properties also tend to have larger rooms with high ceilings, which give you more space for storage, socialising, or decorating. On average, new builds tend to be around 20% smaller than homes built pre-1970, meaning they can feel claustrophobic for larger families. When looking round a show home, you may find that the developers use three-quarter sized furniture to make the rooms more spacious. This can fool buyers into thinking they have plenty of room, only to find themselves clambering over the suite to get to the kitchen.

Period homes tend to retain their value, as new builds have a premium of between 15-25% added to them. Just as the unused car depreciates the moment you drive it off the forecourt, the new build loses value before you’ve even unpacked your boxes. If the developers are still building in your area when you choose to move, you have a limited chance of selling at anywhere near what you paid. You’d have to offer a steal to lure someone away from a brand new home at a similar price.

Older homes often have scope to add value, more so than a modern home. By updating the central heating, improving the insulation and ensuring the roof if in peak condition, you can up the asking price of your property. New builds come with these already, so you will be making savings from the day you move in. The cost of the upgrades will be included in your buying price, rather than you having to fork out for them later.

Whether you choose a new build or an older property will all depend on your individual circumstances. If bigger rooms and character are your priority, an older home is for you. If you want less up-front hassle and energy efficiency, you may choose a new build. Weigh up your priorities and make your choice.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.