9 March, 2016
With Britain's population growing rapidly, the government is racing to meet ever-increasing demand for property. The most recent includes a promise to build 200,000 dwellings every year. As a result, new developments are popping up all over the place - a mix of immaculate housing estates and modern apartment blocks, all waiting for buyers to snap them up.
Despite this, research from the HomeOwners Alliance shows that just one-fifth of Brits would choose to buy a brand new home over something that's already been lived in, with almost half (47 per cent) showing a preference for older properties.
Buy a car and the argument for choosing new over old is a clear one. When it comes to property, though, things aren't so black and white - it's something you must consider carefully. With that in mind, let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.
The case for buying new
It's nice to have new things. The car argument is an easy one, because nothing beats that "new car feel" you so often hear about, but does the same thing exist in property? We think so.
It can be comforting to know you're the first family to live in your new home. For a start, you have the chance to make everything your own from day one - there are no strange customisations made by previous occupants that you have to put up with until you have the time and money to fix them. It's essentially a blank canvas.
More importantly, though, this should mean there'll be no unpleasant surprises when you move in - no heart-sinking water leak discoveries and no dodgy wiring uncovered when you eventually get round to redecorating. Speaking of fixing things, you'll find that long-term maintenance and upkeep costs are lower when buying new, as nothing has had a chance to deteriorate. New homes have also been manufactured to newer regulations, so should be stronger and more secure (though this may not always be the case, as is explained later).
With the costs of gas and electricity rising, energy efficiency is another selling point for new-builds. The government's increasing focus on environmental friendliness and sustainability means most housing has to meet certain efficiency standards before it can hit the market. This should result in lower bills for you, as well as a warmer, more comfortable living space.
- Easier to personalise
- Lower risk of problems
- Cheaper to maintain
- More energy efficient
Why you should consider buying old
While it can feel great to be in a brand new building that nobody has ever lived in before, many people will argue that modern houses and apartments lack the character and charm often found in their older alternatives.
A home's appearance - inside and out - will tell a story of its history. It may contain features closely associated to a certain period of time, for example, or it might have a bit of a rustic look, having stood the test of time through many families' lives. Ultimately, though, the building should be unique, with its own little quirks. In contrast, you'll find that most new-builds look the same - simple, plain and completely neutral.
Size is another consideration, and it's something many of the HomeOwners Alliance's respondents picked up on. Forty-five per cent of those asked said that smaller rooms put them off of new-builds, and with older houses often around 20 per cent bigger, it's a no-brainer if you're looking to house a growing family.
It's also been suggested that, in the rush to meet demand, some developers are simply erecting homes as quickly and cheaply as possible. Despite the new regulations that older homes may not have had to adhere to, many believe that build quality in new homes is poor in comparison. The HomeOwners Alliance CEO and co-founder, Paula Higgins, said: "We need more new homes, but they have to be homes that people want to live in, not homes that are quick, easy and cheap for house builders to throw up."
As you might expect, older homes are, on average, cheaper than their brand new counterparts - up to 20 per cent cheaper if you believe some sources. You may, therefore, get more home for your money by looking at older properties; just be aware that you might have to carry out a little extra work on it in the long run, so be sure to factor this in.
Benefits round up
- More character and personality
- Larger rooms and gardens
- Possibly a better build quality
- Value for money
The decision is yours!
So with all that said, where do you stand? Both new-builds and older homes certainly have their benefits, but the final decision should be made carefully with your own needs in mind. If it's your first time buying, you may be able to get more for your money by going old. If you're determined to make the new place feel like yours quickly, the blank canvas of a new-build will offer more flexibility. Weigh up the pros and cons and see what suits you best!