If you want to live in a house that’s brand new and spotlessly clean, you might be tempted to buy a new-build home.
Figures compiled by Zoopla suggest the new-build market is starting to bounce back after coronavirus put a halt to construction in the spring. Nearly 30,000 new properties were completed in the third quarter of 2020, up from just over 20,000 in the second quarter.
New-build homes can come with several benefits, including no upward chain, low energy bills and a range of buying incentives. However, there are some potential drawbacks to be aware of.
To help you make an informed decision, read on to discover the pros and cons of buying a new-build property.
The pros of buying a new-build home
Minimal work required
Once your new-build home is ready, you can usually move in and unpack.
New-build properties come freshly painted, with new bathroom tiling and kitchen units. So, unlike an older property, you won’t have to spend weeks carrying out renovations, hoovering up dog hair, or concealing bad paint jobs.
Many new-build homes include kitchen appliances and smart home features. If you buy ‘off-plan’ – before the property has been built – you might even be able to choose your home’s design and fittings.
Low energy bills
New-build homes must comply with the latest building regulations. They usually have double- or even triple-glazed windows, as well as insulated walls, roofs and doors.
This tends to make them more energy-efficient than older properties, meaning you could save money on your energy bills.
Data from the Home Builders Association suggests more than 80% of new-builds have an A or B energy performance rating, compared with just 2.2% of older homes.
No upward chain
As the first owner of the property, there won’t be a chain of buyers above you. This could make the home-buying process run more smoothly.
If you’re a first-time buyer, the purchase will be completely chain-free.
Help for first-time buyers
First-time buyers who don’t have a large deposit might qualify for support from the government.
In England, the latest Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme opened for applications on 16 December 2020. The government lends up to 20% of the cost of a new-build home, or up to 40% if you’re in London. You pay a deposit of 5% or more and arrange a mortgage of 25% of more to make up the rest. To qualify, the home must be below the government’s price cap, which ranges from £186,100 in the North-East to £600,000 in London.
In Scotland, the Help to Buy scheme is available on new-build homes valued at up to £200,000. You must have a deposit of 5% and the government will lend up to 15% of the purchase price. It’s only available to people who can’t afford to buy the property without government assistance.
A mortgage broker can help you to decide if the Help to Buy scheme is right for you.
Some developers offer a range of incentives to buyers. These could include paying your Stamp Duty bill or estate agent fees, covering the cost of new flooring, part-exchange, or Armed Forces discounts.
The cons of buying a new-build home
New-build properties aren’t always completed on time, so your moving-in date could be delayed.
Long delays could result in you having to pay unexpected rent and storage costs. There’s also a risk of your mortgage offer expiring.
Snags and teething issues
New homes often come with defects or omissions – otherwise known as ‘snags’. This could be because of insufficient build time, lack of skilled tradesmen or non-standard designs.
The HomeOwners Alliance recommends getting a professional ‘snagging survey’ before you exchange contracts with the developer or, if this isn’t possible, as soon as you’ve moved in.
The survey will highlight issues in the property that fall short of the warranty standards, breaches of building regulations, outstanding works, and where traditional customs and practices haven’t been met.
A new-build property could also have teething issues, such as your mail not being delivered or your broadband not working properly.
New-build properties tend to be smaller than older properties. According to a study by LABC Warranty, the size of the average new-build home has reduced by four square-metres since 2010 and by 20% over the past 40 years.
The HomeOwners Alliance says this can affect storage space in particular. If you have lots of belongings, a large car and a fleet of bikes, it’s worth checking they’ll actually fit.
Builders often charge a ‘new-build premium’ which means that a new property can cost more than an older property of the same size and in the same area.
A study by Monmouthshire Building Society found that in 2019, new-build homes cost an average of 19% more than pre-owned homes. This meant people buying new homes were paying, on average, £55,568 more than buyers of older homes.
There’s a risk that your home will lose its value once it’s lived in and newer houses pop up down the road.
Weighing up and pros and cons
Whether a new-build home is right for you will ultimately depend on your personal preferences, what you can afford, and the size of your deposit.
When you’re viewing a model new-build home, try not to let shiny fixtures and fittings influence your decision. It’s important to remain level-headed, research the housebuilder, ensure the property meets your needs, and read the contracts thoroughly.
Get in touch
If you’d like advice on buying a new-build home, please get in touch. Email [email protected] or call 0131 339 2281.
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or other loans secured on it.