The cosiness factor means buyers are warming towards new homes
Buyers are putting property snobbery aside as new homes tempt them with cheaper running costs and easy living. Sharon Dale reports.
RISING fuel prices may seem like bad news all round but they’ve been a blessing in disguise for developers.
Those who live in draughty old properties can feel the difference when they walk into a show home thanks to the Government’s insistence on high levels of insulation, energy efficient boilers and air tightness in every newbuild.
Many buyers cite running costs as a main motivator for moving out of the cold and into new homes, which are about four times more energy efficient than old ones. Figures show that they can slash £556 off average utility bills.
A change in lifestyles has also made the low maintenance new-build more popular as a fastpaced society leaves little time or desire for DIY.
Andrew Beadnall, of Beadnall Copley estate agents, says: “We have definitely seen a big change in attitude in those who would previously only have looked at period property and a lot of that is due to the huge reduction in heating bills you can achieve with a new home.
“The costs of maintaining an older house also comes into the equation, especially in this economic climate. Older houses can be very beautiful but you sometimes need deep pockets to run and maintain them.”
While there is still some property snobbery around homes built on large developments, those buying at the top of the market won’t turn their noses up at bespoke one-offs.
Homes on a small, select site are attractive as is the chance to own a contemporary grand design.
There is a lot of interest in oneoff design-and-build packages such as Wharfe Bank House in Collingham, near Wetherby.
The eco-friendly, five bedroom property is priced at £1.2m through Beadnall and Copley.
However, even though there is interest few will buy until they see it out of the ground.
“If something is highly individual and has green features there is unquestionably demand for it but people won’t usually buy off plan because they can’t imagine what it will look like or how big it will be. Only when it starts to take shape will they commit,” says Andrew.
When they view, adds Beadnall and Copley’s Darryl Digpal, they are more likely to buy if the space flows, though they will also be tempted by deals, offers and the knowledge that a new home is always chain free.
“That’s one of our great strengths in a market like this. We have a lot of tools to help people buy that are not available on second-hand homes.
“We have part-exchange deals, shared-equity and deposit paid schemes, which are all very appealing, though our toughest job is getting people to a new development for the first time. Once they are there their minds are more open to the idea of buying new” says Barratt Yorkshire’s sales director Ian Ruthven, who is delighted with the sea change in attitude towards new-builds
For years the industry was blighted by various scandals over poor build standards and dull design and in the recent boom there were complaints that developers were squeezing too many properties onto plots, driven in part by Government insistence on high density.
“There has been a gradual move away from three-storey town houses and flats and sites aren’t quite as built-up as they were. We are seeing a definite move towards traditional, two-storey, three- and four-bedroom detached houses,” says Ian.
Quality and design are also crucial when competing for buyers in a slow market.
“There were a lot of featureless homes built but now a lot of thought is invested in how people will live in them and on making them look stylish. Buyers expect en-suite bathrooms and they like open plan, flexible spaces with plenty of light,” says Ian.
“People also want to know they can move in and not have a long snagging list and if there are problems they want to be sure they’ll be resolved. We have the usual NHBC warranty but we also offer a five-year warranty ourselves and that has certainly given us an edge.”
There are, of course, areas where new homes cannot compete with older ones. Although you can create a great contemporary look, you cannot give a new home history or the sort of character that is built up over decades. Neither can you have a fabulous garden full of mature trees and shrubs.
Location is another area where you may have to compromise. Many of the best sites have already been built on and developers have slim pickings.
“A new house can have great design but you can’t make into a rustic farmhouse or an 18th century cottage,” says Ian.
“But while you may have to compromise on location you will get a good deal more for your money.”
WARM RECEPTION: Wharfe Bank House, Collingham, gives buyers the chance to create their own grand design.