Pros and cons of buy­ing a newly-built prop­erty

New homes are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar but along with the ben­e­fits there are pit­falls. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

FUEL BILLS are ris­ing and we are in­creas­ingly time-poor, which means that the lure of a low main­te­nance, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient newly-built home has never been greater.

Even those who swore they could never live in any­thing that wasn’t at least 100 years old are mov­ing from pe­riod prop­er­ties to new ones thanks to the ad­van­tages they of­fer.

Heat­ing bills in a new-build are usu­ally about half those in a Vic­to­rian prop­erty of the same size, thanks to build­ing reg­u­la­tion re­quire­ments for in­su­la­tion and air-tight­ness.

Then there are the mod cons and the en-suites – even the small­est new homes have two bath­rooms these days. Add to that the week­ends free from

DIY and dec­o­rat­ing, at least for a few years, and you can see why newly-con­structed homes are so pop­u­lar.

The Home Builders Fed­er­a­tion cal­cu­late that it could cost as much as £40-£45,000 to bring an older prop­erty up to the same stan­dard if you fac­tor in a new roof, boiler and up­grad­ing the kitchen and bath­rooms. How­ever, while the pos­i­tives are plen­ti­ful, there are still some pit­falls. Here are some of is­sues you must con­sider when buy­ing new.

Lease­hold. We are used to flats be­ing sold on a lease­hold ba­sis but the num­ber of lease­hold houses has bur­geoned since de­vel­op­ers re­alised there was an op­por­tu­nity to make more money. Class­ing a house as lease­hold gives home­builders a chance to charge buy­ers an ex­tra £2,000 to £3,000 for the free­hold. Those who de­cide not to pay the ex­tra and opt for a long lease, usu­ally 999 years, may later find that the de­vel­oper has sold the free­hold to a third party.

Home­own­ers are then at the mercy of com­pa­nies who want to max­imise in­come by in­creas­ing ground rents, which are an av­er­age of £200 a year and can rise an­nu­ally by the rate of in­fla­tion. Own­ers have a le­gal right to buy out their free­hold but of­ten find that the orig­i­nal price quoted by the de­vel­oper rock­ets once it is in the hands of an in­vestor. One buyer was quoted £2,000 for the free­hold by the de­vel­oper only to find this had risen to £38,000 after be­ing sold on to a third party. The free­holder can also charge large sums of money if you want to add an ex­ten­sion.

The gov­ern­ment is

NEW FOR OLD: con­sid­er­ing a clam­p­down but un­til they do it is vi­tal that you check the small print. Some de­vel­op­ers do not men­tion that the prop­erty is lease­hold un­til late in the buy­ing process and they cer­tainly don’t high­light the pos­si­ble is­sues. It makes sense to pay an ex­tra £2,000 to £3,000 to buy the free­hold or you may want to walk away and pur­chase from a de­vel­oper who doesn’t sell their prop­er­ties on a lease­hold ba­sis.

Space and stor­age. Show homes are made to look amaz­ing but they don’t re­flect real life and all the “stuff ” that comes with it. Stor­age is some­times lack­ing in new homes so as­sess every room and ask your­self where you will put your fur­ni­ture, es­pe­cially your wardrobes and chests of draw­ers. Is there a space for suit­cases, sports equip­ment and the vac­uum cleaner? The best de­vel­op­ers de­sign stor­age into their schemes.

Checks. Hor­ror sto­ries are few and far be­tween but it pays to be care­ful. Do due dili­gence on the de­vel­oper be­fore you agree to buy. It’s easy thanks to the in­ter­net. There will al­ways be the odd grum­ble but if there are lots and the com­plaints are se­ri­ous then alarm bells should ring.

The Home Builders Fed­er­a­tion car­ries out an an­nual cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey that gives de­vel­op­ers a star rat­ing, which will also tell you a lot and bring some com­fort. Most firms score four and five stars. www.hbf.

Qual­ity. Just be­cause it’s new does not mean it is per­fect, though it’s hard to tell when the prop­erty is plas­tered out and painted. Win­dows that aren’t square and floors that are not straight can be clues. If you are sus­pi­cious or want to be ex­tra care­ful then you can hire a snag­ging in­spec­tor, aka a sur­veyor, to check the prop­erty out be­fore you move in. Snag­ging sur­veys usu­ally cost from £300 to £600 but it can be money well spent. A pro­fes­sional may well spot prob­lems that might oth­er­wise go un­no­ticed un­til the prop­erty is out of its war­ranty pe­riod. You can find check­lists on­line if you want to DIY.

Newly-built homes are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar, thanks to their high en­ergy ef­fi­ciency rat­ings and low run­ning costs.

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