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Old or new – Which is the best when buying property?

One thing you won’t be short of when you announce you’re considering buying property is advice.

Whether it’s directly from friends and family or indirectly from the internet, there’s so much information out there, sometimes it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed.

Just as everyone has their own favourite conveyancing solicitor, removal firm or estate agent, they probably have equally entrenched opinions on whether you should be looking at buying a brand new home or something with a little age.

To be honest, the answer is subjective; like music or sport, it’s down to your personal taste and circumstances. But there are pros and cons to both so, if you’re new to buying property or just struggling to decide, we thought we’d offer a few pointers to help.

The older home…

Advantages: If you’re buying an older home and it’s been around a while, it’s likely to be pretty solid. The old designers built things to last and tended to over-engineer; the walls will be thicker, the floors robust, for example.

There’s often more space inside older properties too; rooms may be bigger and have higher ceilings. With that in mind, there may be options to extend or redesign the interior; if the basic structure is solid, you may be able to add to the loft, knock down a couple of internal walls or realign the staircase (although we’d always advocate professional advice first).

Disadvantages: On the other hand, pick the wrong home or scrimp on the survey and you could find yourself investing considerable sums of money just rectifying problems.

Is the house damp? Are the big rooms hard to heat because half of warmth goes out of gaps in the windows? Is the loft insulated or – equally importantly – what’s up there? For example, you don’t want to move into a home and find you’re sharing it with bats or a family of starlings.

If you have plans to extend, it’s best to check first to see if planning permission is going to be an issue. Have a good look at other homes on the street first to give you an idea if a conservatory or loft conversion are likely to be permitted.

Also, remember some older homes were built when there were nowhere near as many cars so is parking going to be an issue? There are few things more frustrating than getting home after a busy day to find you have to drive around for 20 minutes just to find somewhere to park.

The new home …

Advantages: Just like a brand-new car, there’s something about moving into a brand-new house which you know no one has owned before. It’s pristine; a blank canvas just waiting for your defining touches.

You should be protected by a builder’s guarantee and some even come with carpets, curtains and kitchen appliances, all ready and waiting. New homes are designed to be bright and airy and most will come with either parking or a garage for the car. Developers of larger new estates are also obliged to provide community facilities such as play areas, green spaces and traffic calming.

Disadvantages: Developers are businesses just the same and will always want to get as many bangs for their buck as possible. That means homes are as sometimes closely-packed or condensed inside and out. The rooms may be smaller, the ceilings lower and the property’s build-quality may not be quite so robust.

As a result, you may be able to hear your neighbours cough or a bit of rough-and-tumble between the kids might lead to a hole in a plasterboard wall.

But the most important advice we can give is to ensure you read the small print; first to check whether the terms of the purchase are for a freehold or a leasehold agreement and also to ensure you understand your rights when it comes to your guarantee.

Developers will usually honour their obligations when it comes to “snagging” – issues which can arise as a new home settles in the first few years after its construction. However, consumer stories in the media often include examples of disputes between construction firms and buyers who presumed they were entitled to more aftersales care than was ever on offer.

Hopefully, we’ve given you enough pointers to help you make up your mind which one works best for you but, if there’s anything else you think we might be able to help with, why not have a browse through our earlier blogs, give us a call or drop us a line? We’d love to assist if we can.