New build vs. Second-hand homes in London: house price report reveals six-figure gap between new and resale flats

There’s a huge gulf between the average price of old and new-build flats in London. New builds can offer peace of mind while ex-councils flats are best for value so weigh up the pros and cons carefully before you buy.

Ex-council vs. new-build prices in every London borough

The six-figure price gulf between new and resale property, and between privately built and former council homes, is revealed in a new study focusing on London.

Research comparing the cost of one-bedroom flats in every borough shows pre-owned homes cost an average £542,715, while a new-build one-bedroom flat costs an average £679,671. That’s 22 percent — or almost £137,000 — more.

An ex-council one-bedroom flat is the best value of all at £396,317 on average, the Hamptons International study shows. This is more than £146,000 — or 31 percent — less than buying a privately built flat, and more than £283,000, or 52 percent, cheaper than a new-build flat.

New build is always the premium buy, for the peace of mind that comes with a modern, well-insulated home, often with such extras as communal gardens and sports facilities. In today’s tricky market some developers are offering good deals such as paying buyers’ stamp duty to stimulate sales, but the property will always come out more expensive with annual service charges on top.

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New — what £350,000 buys you: a flat at Leven Wharf, Poplar, with a terrace and city views but only one bedroom. For sale with My London Home (020 8012 5708)

Not long ago you could have said a new-build flat, bought off-plan, would make you a profit by the time you moved in. The direction of the current market is anybody’s guess because of stamp duty hikes and the fallout from the Brexit vote.

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Adrian Plant, director and head of new homes at estate agents Currell, says: “With the new build, you hope you know that for the first 10 years there will not be any major costs. You won’t need to pay for builders and plumbers, and many developments now come with a concierge to handle maintenance and sort out issues like arranging for parcel delivery or laundry, at a cost of service charges.”

Buyers of older homes pay less to purchase, but often then stump up for renovations and/or extensions. Of course, an older home may bring the bonus of period features such as cornicing, wide staircases, stained glass and Victorian tiled floors.

WITH GREAT VALUE COMES GREATER RISK

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Old — what £329,999 buys you: a second-floor ex-council flat with two double bedrooms in Clapton E5. Former council homes can be great value, but ask locals what life on the estate is like before you commit to buying

Ex-local authority homes are fantastic value but this is the riskiest sector to buy into. Generally, those built before the Sixties and Seventies are higher quality and larger than a more modern home. But on estates blighted by years of underinvestment, flats can be shabby, common areas depressing and getting a mortgage can be a pain.

However, Stephen Lovelady, sales manager at Foxtons’ Pimlico and Westminster branch, says ex-council homes on his patch are often well built, with good security and sometimes well managed. He says most lenders will offer mortgages on ex-local authority homes in central London, although some will not lend on buildings above six storeys, or of poor construction standards.

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Beyond Zone 1, broadly speaking, lenders are happy with ex-council homes in desirable areas and less keen on run-down locations. Buyers must research whether there are any major repairs planned for the block or estate because they, unlike the council tenants, will have to pay a share of the cost. Request a work plan from the local council which will give a five-year list of any projects plus an estimated cost. Your solicitor should investigate any major works when conveyancing your sale.

Communal halls, lifts and walkways are often grim. Bad management, crime, drugs and gangs of teenagers making life a misery are all possibilities on a big estate. A safer bet is a small, low-rise block that’s well integrated into local streets, although this might be more expensive than average.

So before you buy, contact the tenants and residents association to discuss any major problems, knock on doors and chat with residents, talk to the local paper, study police crime statistics and visit the flat during the day and at night.

 

Protecting Vacant Property

With a recent and controversial change in the law making squatting a criminal offence, the media has been awash with opinion pieces on the matter. Alongside all the polite debate and raging arguments, there has been a very public renewal of interest in the security of properties which are vacant, for however long and for whatever reason. Property Property Property are pleased to present the following guest post from the nice folks at Safe Site Securities, who have some advice about leaving your property vacant. Rent in London can take a chunk out of your monthly income; so you don’t want to be paying out to replace stolen objects or repair broken property.

When your property becomes vacant, it is paramount to ensure that you don’t get caught out when it comes to insurance. The majority of standard property insurance policies only continue to provide cover for a maximum of 30 days should the property become unoccupied, with the most generous policies only allowing up to 45 days.

Why is a Property Vacant?

Both residential and commercial property can become vacant for a number of reasons. It could simply be a time lapse between tenants for a landlord, or a death in the family may leave a property vacant whilst probate is administered and the property is left until prepared for re-sale, and sometimes property owners simply aren’t able to manage resulting in properties lying dormant. A job relocation could result in a property lying vacant whilst a buyer is sought, and many holiday homes are only occupied during certain times of the year. Both professional and amateur property developers regularly buy a renovation property at auction which may lie empty for many months before it is ready for occupation once more.

Why bother with Specialist Insurance?

The answer is simple – to protect your assets. Vacant properties are at constant risk from vandals, arsonists, thieves and decay. Whilst at first glance opting not to take out vacant property insurance may seem a risk worth taking, spend a few moments thinking about the consequences if something does go wrong.

Left unnoticed and not dealt with, prolonged water damage can ruin the fabric of a building. Whether the source is simply a blocked drain or missing roof tile water can quickly penetrate walls and joists potentially resulting in hefty repair bills.


Any obviously empty property offers a great temptation to both vandals and squatters. The damage caused by such criminals can be endless – from smashed doors and windows, to fires, theft of fixtures and fittings, graffiti and the build up of debris and detritus. The eviction of squatters can be both a lengthy and costly affair, and the bill from professional repairs and a thorough cleanse of a property really can run into thousands of pounds.

Conditions of Empty Property Insurance

Vacant Property Insurance comes with a host of conditions that must be adhered to for the cover to remain valid. Some of these can be considered common sense, such as ensuring adequate locks are fitted to all doors and windows. Other conditions are more extreme, such as the requirement to ensure the property is inspected on a regular basis for signs of damage, decay and developing problems, and any concerns are both recorded, reported and dealt with swiftly. There may be a requirement that surrounding land is kept maintained, as well as simple tasks such as ensuring a letter box is regularly cleared.

Call in the Specialists

If your property is to remain vacant for a long time period, it pays to call in the experts. Not only will this enable you to obtain the highest levels of vacant property insurance, it will ensure that your property is far more likely to remain safe and secure. Security specialists can not only advise on securing doors, windows and other access points effectively, they can carry out enhanced security measures such as installing steel security screens and mobile security alarms. If your empty property isn’t local to you, reputable security firms can be a god send, able to carry out professional property inspections both internally and externally weekly or bi-weekly as required by your insurance firm.

Whilst all this might seem a little extreme, in my mind it makes perfect sense. Property is money, why risk it?

Safe Site Facilities are empty property security experts, with extensive knowledge of the concerns and risks that property owners face with their uninhabited properties. SSF know that with a few simply deterrents and barriers, you could save many thousands of pounds in damages.

Protecting You and Your Property This Halloween

Recent Aviva research illustrates a significant annual increase in home damage during Halloween. According to the insurance company, the period spanning the end of October and the first few days of November brings about a rough increase of 150% in claims of malicious damage to the home; meanwhile, damage to cars rises by half as do car thefts which go up by 20%.

The Halloween festivities encourage a free-for-all around this time of the year, with the consequences being most evident in the exteriors of properties up and down the country. More youth are out in public until a later time at night. Because this crowd have a valid excuse and are in costume, they have the opportunity to get away with tricks. This encourages a higher frequency in reckless behaviour, though this blame shouldn’t be pushed on kids alone. Potential damage can be attributed to young adults, with many attending parties and enjoying more alcohol than normal, on Halloween itself and the nearest weekend. Heavy alcohol use usually results in varying levels of destructive consequences anyway through scuffles, accidents and driving while intoxicated. More specifically, if individuals rent in London, Manchester or a similarly large city with an active nightlife, and they live close to town or main roads, tenants shouldn’t be surprised to receive more attention through foot-traffic. It’s also getting darker, sooner in the evenings, providing an excellent opportunity for vandals and burglars to strike under the cover of darkness.

So how does this affect those in the property-game, who own and let out accommodation? Well, individuals can very well expect to spend the next day on the phone with repair-men to arrange visits and quotes for work to be done. Many tenants will be phoning up their landlords, sheepishly reporting damages that have “just happened” (that is if they actually report it rather than fix it themselves or even hide it). Agents and Landlords will commonly hear of incidents including broken windows, damage to paintwork, spray-painting and produce being thrown. More complicated examples can involve plumbing too

Those who don’t report damage to their landlord or letting agent, but instead go about covering up any problems themselves, can safely expect the damage to be discovered on inspection of the property at a later date. Agents and landlords regularly inspect properties, and can do so with just 24 hours notice (or none if their is a concern of damage to the property). Common discoveries include chipped furniture and stains on carpets.

Because Halloween is a popular annual tradition, it’s guaranteed that there will always be young trick-or-treaters and older party-goers out and about, abstaining from their usual behaviour. Unless there is a prevalent fear amongst members of a community with a prior negative experience to point to, Halloween fun and games will be tolerated unless they breach the law. Due to budgets cuts and the expected incidents around this time of year, emergency services will be stretched even further. Preemptive measures by property-owners can help. Because Halloween is an annual holiday, it’s generally accepted by landlords and agents who let out properties that these incidents will happen. Holidays like Halloween and the behaviour it brings out in others is one of those things to consider when deciding where to live. For those who want to avoid such festivities but still wish to rent in London or another major city, flats which offer more security from the outside, area safe option. On the other hand, if you want to be more active, like hosting a party yourself, a house, rather than an apartment, will provide more space to dance!