As good as new?
With housing developments springing up left, right and centre, buying a new-build home may well seem like a favourable option. Before making the big move, however, there are some important things to consider
In 2017, the government pledged to build 300,000 new homes every year by the mid 2020s in a bid to address the national housing shortage, and today huge new developments are a familiar sight in most towns and cities. New homes in Surrey are particularly on the rise, as John Ferrucci, partner of Seymours Land and New Homes, explains. “2019 looks like it will be another busy year. Due to the fantastic location, the demand for new build properties is high with buyers coming from London and further afield.” With various government initiatives in place to incentivise buying new homes too, such as the Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme, more and more of us are opting to buy a sparkling new property.
Before starting your search, be aware that the process of buying a brand new home is slightly different to usual. It may well be the case that you have your eye on a development, but that the houses themselves haven’t been built yet; this is known as buying a house ‘off-plan’. In this instance you’ll visit the show-home, but don’t be won over by any lavish decoration, and try to see the house more in terms of its overall style and the quality of the finish. “If there isn’t a finished show home, ask if you can view a previous development by the same developer so you can gauge their specification,” advises Massimo Lanzalaco, director of Seymours Land and New Homes. Once you’ve decided on a plot or property, you might need to pay a reservation fee which can be around £1,000, and this won’t be refundable.
Perhaps the main benefit of buying a new-build is that everything is brand new. As a result, the house should require much less maintenance than an older property, and in theory it will be years before you need to worry about things like new windows or roof replacements. Most homes will also come with a 10-year warranty with NHBC, which will cover any structural defects with the property, and many developers will also provide their own warranty too. If you’re
buying off-plan, you are also likely to be able to have a say in the design choices that are made such as the wall colour and flooring.
Building restrictions also mean that your home will feature all the most modern facilities. “A new three-bedroom home has at least 38 electric sockets, mounted at knee height to provide easy access, for example,” says Steve Wood, chief executive at NHBC. Today’s regulations also mean that new houses have to be as energy efficient as possible, which of course means the potential for lower bills, too. “Well-insulated homes built to current regulations will cost approximately half as much to heat as Victorian homes that have un-insulated solid-brick walls,” Steve adds.
However, a new home brings with it some inevitable downsides too. There’s no guarantee that your home will be ready to move in to on the date you had initially hoped, with delays in the building process sometimes unavoidable. During this time, you are at risk of loosing your mortgage offer, as these tend to expire within a six month period. It’s also important to be wary of the ‘new build premium’: in other words, make sure the property isn’t miles more expensive than other, similar properties in the area just because it is new. Take time to research the developer thoroughly too, making sure they are reputable. Some developers will also try to sell you add-on items, so don’t be wooed by their offer of a washing machine thrown into the deal when you might be able to find a cheaper one elsewhere.
With the government’s promise to address the ongoing housing shortage, it seems that we are set to see more and more new homes in Surrey in 2019. Perhaps, this could be the year that you make the big move, but before doing so it’s important to do your research and know the pluses and minuses.