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Buying a home: New or used property?

A red cottage front doorWhen it comes to buying a home are you looking for a new-build to move straight into, or a used property to do up and make your own?

The credit crunch made life a lot harder for first-time buyers, as mortgage lenders tightened their lending criteria.

And this tougher lending criteria is still in place, with buyers needing around a 20 to 25 per cent deposit to unlock the best mortgage deals.

In a bid to get the property market moving and to stimulate house building, the government announced the NewBuy Guarantee scheme earlier this year.

New-build mortgage schemes

This allows prospective buyers to get onto the property ladder with a 5 per cent mortgage deposit – as long as they're purchasing a new-build home.

More than 2,000 people have now reserved new homes through the NewBuy scheme since its launch in March, according to figures released this month by the Home Builders Federation.

But suppose you're not after a new-build?

Boxy rooms and a lack of storage space are just some of the reasons cited by those who are turned off by new-build properties.

But there are advantages to buying new. If you buy off-plan, for example, you can get to choose the layout of your property.

Energy efficiency

Newer homes also have the bonus of being more energy efficient than their older counterparts.

As a result of building standards introduced in 2006, new homes are now 40 per cent more energy efficient than homes built at the beginning of the decade, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Despite this, many house buyers still dream of a period property with character as opposed to what many see as a bland new-build.

Rachel Ridge, 34, a TV producer from Caerphilly, south Wales, has recently moved from a newer property to an older one.

New vs. old

She says: "When I bought my last property I was single and wanted something I could put my mark on without too much hassle.

"I was happy to do some cosmetic work to make the place my own but I didn't want to end up ripping out the kitchen or bathroom and knocking down walls. 

"I probably could have got a bigger, older house for the same money but I was worried about what I might find if I started stripping wallpaper in a Victorian property."

But when Rachel saw her dream property earlier this year she decided to go for it, despite it needing renovating.

"Now I'm a few years older and have a husband who's actually pretty keen - and capable - with DIY.

'Forever home'

"We wanted a place we could have as our forever home."

Rachel even managed to save money on the property.

"As it needed some work to get it up to scratch, this meant it was a bit cheaper than similar houses of the same size in the area. 

"I would say that if you want a hassle-free home you can move into without any worries then buy a new property. 

Buyer beware

"On the other hand, I know people who've had problems buying straight from developers and have ended up with long snagging lists. 

"I guess it's reassuring to have someone to complain to if there are problems but it can take a while to sort things out. 

"My advice for people buying an older property would be to have a proper survey done before you commit to buying it - at least a Home Buyers report, but a structural survey if you can afford it.

"This way any major issues are flagged up and you can get quotes for the essential work needed."

What do you think?

New versus used homes: Which do you prefer?

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Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick reports on all things personal finance at Confused.com. She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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