News – What to look for in a new-build home

Follow these top tips to hold the value of a contemporary property

Francesca Steele
Are you attracted by the bumper bargains now being offered by developers on new-build homes? Then try to think ahead if you are intending to sell the property when the recovery arrives. Will that cheap two-bedroom flat hold its value as well as a Victorian terraced house?

Potentially, says Liam Bailey, director of residential research at Knight Frank. But you have to consider what future buyers will want. Bailey explains: “We are moving away from an investment and buy-to-let culture to an owner-occupiers’ market. Buyers are going to be much more concerned with long-term costs and build quality. They are not asking for hugely complex solutions or expensive fixtures and fittings. They just want somewhere that is well built, with a parking space, some good convenience shops near by and somewhere to store a bike.” Clearly, bike storage is becoming increasingly important as more workers choose to commute on two wheels. Other tips include:

– Make sure that a surveyor does a thorough inspection to ensure that a property is solidly built and carefully fitted. It may cost you up to £1,000 but cash-strapped developers can scrimp on fittings and finer details, and repairs will cost you more in the long run.

– “Check everything from the shower and bath fittings to the durability of the materials used,” says Andrew Warner, of the surveyors Dalton Warner Davis. “Windows fitted with unseasoned timber, for example, can cause the frame to warp, which will mean the windows will eventually cease to fit.”

– If you are buying on the basis of the show flat, take extra care because any problems in build quality here bode badly for the rest of the development. A developer who has cut corners on the show flat may be more intent on dropping the price and selling quickly than on finishing the development to a high standard.

– Glass and metal exteriors can look trendy but, as with some other contemporary designs, they are often based on commercial construction techniques. This may mean that they will last only 30 or 40 years. Check with your surveyor and developer to ensure you know what future repair costs are likely to be. Even if you are planning to own the property only a short while, future repair costs will affect the value when you sell it on.

– New-builds with private outdoor space will be a cut above much of the market. Look for somewhere with a balcony or winter garden, as well as communal gardens. Make sure that there are built-in cupboards or a utility room, and on-site parking.

– However convenient that studio apartment may seem for you now as a single professional, be aware that studios are notoriously difficult to sell on, and that mortgage lenders are likely to be wary as a result.

– Finally, if there is a service charge ask for a breakdown of what it will be used for, because this can be difficult to renegotiate with the management company later on, and check it against a comparable development with similar facilities. “Ideally, some money should go in to a sink fund for future repairs; not all of it should go towards on-going costs like the concierge service,” Warner says.