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New builds vs older homes

Kieran Witt, 18 August 2023

New build

What’s this article about?

New build or old home? Learn the pros and cons of each in this article. We cover price, ongoing costs, resale value, energy efficiency, and home decor.

Among the many choices you'll have to make when buying a home is whether to buy a new build or an older home. Both options have their own advantages and disadvantages that you should have a think about before making a decision.

We'll take a closer look at the pros and cons of each, but first, let's clarify what we mean by "new builds" and "older homes." A new build is a home that nobody has owned before you. It's a fresh property. In many cases, they are sold before they are built. An older home, on the other hand, is a property previously owned by someone else, even if it's not that old.


New builds tend to come with a fixed price, so it's less likely you'll get into bidding wars with other buyers. What you see is what you get, which is great if you've got a set budget in mind. You might also be eligible for a home equity loan or shared ownership scheme. Some housebuilders throw in freebies like free conveyancing. However, you can expect to pay a bit more for a new build.

With an older home, the price can vary dramatically depending on location, size, and condition. Older homes are often priced as "offers over," meaning the seller accepts bids above the asking price, and you might have to get into a bidding war. On the one hand, you could pay above the asking price, but on the other, you might have room to haggle too.

Ongoing Costs

With new builds, there may be additional costs for factors, which are external companies responsible for maintaining surrounding grounds and communal spaces. Typically, factors are assigned to a specific building or estate, and opting out of their services isn't possible. As a result, this becomes an ongoing monthly expense. However, when purchasing a new home, you receive a warranty, meaning that if any repairs are necessary within the first few years, the property developers will cover the costs.

In contrast, you are responsible for all repairs from the outset when purchasing an older property. If the property is a freehold, you are responsible for the interior and exterior maintenance costs. If it is a leasehold or commonhold property, someone else must maintain the exterior or communal areas, but you must contribute to these costs.

Resale Value

If you keep your new build property in good condition and house prices continue to rise, you can still profit when reselling. However, if you purchase an older property that requires renovations, your potential resale profit may increase significantly. Money spent on upgrading features such as parquet flooring could become an investment.

Buying Process

New builds are "chain-free," meaning you don't need to work with previous owners on negotiating move-in dates or transferring ownership. However, building delays could mean waiting a while (and paying rent in your current place for longer) until your home is ready.

With older homes, there are no construction delays, but there could be delays when transferring ownership. On the plus side, you could negotiate with previous owners to include furniture or white goods (e.g. fridge/washing machine) in the price.

Energy Efficiency

The 'newness' of new builds definitely impacts energy efficiency. New boilers, new insulation, and less wear and tear can really help you save on bills. Plus, some property developers allow you to add more efficient energy initiatives like solar panels or even chargers for electric cars. These could cost you extra, though.

The energy efficiency of older homes really depends on the previous owners. If they've cared for the property and renovated it over time, it could be as good (or even better) as some new builds. On the flip side, if the home report shows that the energy rating is relatively low, you can use that to negotiate a lower price (and put that money you saved towards improving the energy efficiency).

Home Decor

If you prefer a clean, contemporary space to build your home, then new builds are an excellent option. These homes offer a blank canvas to create your dream interior design. Moreover, some property developers may allow you to customize your build, from bathroom fixtures to kitchen worktops.

In contrast, older properties boast unique period features that add character and charm to your home. From intricate ceiling roses to Victorian tiles or mid-century panelling, original features are exclusive to older homes. When viewing an older property, looking beyond the previous owner's decor and envisioning your style is definitely needed.

In summary, each option has its advantages and disadvantages. However, whether you opt for a new build or an older property, proper research is essential to make the best decision for your needs and style. Ultimately, the goal is to create a space you love and can make your own, regardless of the property's age.