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.

 

7 THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING PRIOR TO MOVING INTO YOUR FIRST HOME

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As a first-time buyer, the responsibility can be quite daunting when moving yourself and your belongings into your new haven. Fortunately, for you, the buying process is made easier if you used the more traditional method, via Estate Agents. However, as soon as the keys are in your hands, the responsibility is yours!

So we’ve curated and listed below, our top 7 tips that we believe you should be doing prior to moving into your first home:

TIP #1: Change your address

There is nothing more annoying than having your utility bills, doctors’ appointments and random promotional letters being sent to your old address. Not only is it annoying for you to go back and forth to collect post or have your previous neighbours (family) have to update you on your letters that are flooding in, but it also means that your life is still registered at your old address.

So make sure you’ve updated your Driver’s License, Doctors, Water/Gas Providers or whoever it is that you’ve moved. I can tell you from experience it definitely saves you a LOT of hassle!

TIP #2: Change the locks

Now that the victory key has been placed in your palms, it’s time to throw it away and get a new one. No seriously get a new one!

Estate Agents, tradesmen, previous owners, neighbours, cats and dogs, whoever who may have had access to the house prior to you owning it will probably still have a spare key to your new home lying around. So for your sake and the sake of your sanity; have the absolute reassurance that no-one but you can get into your new home, look into getting new locks installed ASAP.

TIP #3: Spring clean the place

Whether you bought the property in Spring or not, give the place a good scrub. You might be lucky and have the previous homeowners clean up the place for you, but it’s still best to add your touch to the cleaning as you can definitely be certain that your new home is nice and clean, ready for you to decorate.

TIP #4: Don’t throw it away, paint it

If you happen to have a surprise chest of draws left in the masters’ bedroom and you don’t know what to do with it, definitely don’t throw it away!

You may not be excited about the colour or hardware of the leftover furniture, but upscaling and adding your own style to it can definitely reinforce that rewarding feeling of owning something as well as saving you money, but you can also brag to your friends about your handy work. So don’t throw it. Paint it. Style it. Repurpose it.

TIP #5: Get familiar with the community

Now, I’m not saying that you have to attend community meetings 6 weeks consecutively prior to your move or sign up to all the local clubs so that you can become familiar with everyone in the area and have Julie who lives across the road fill you in on the community gossip. I mean if you want to do that you can, and I’m sure Julie wouldn’t mind filling you in.

But rather, we suggest that you acquaint yourself with the local transportation, get a clearer understanding of the local shopping/market on offer and familiarise yourself with the key hotspots/locations around the town. It will save you a lot of mindless confusion and time. So you don’t necessarily have to research the communities’ historical records or look for a Julie.

TIP #6: Check the hardware around the house and mechanical equipment is serviced

Even though some Estate Agents offer those additional services and can recommend to you servicemen/traders to do the job before your move, it’s even more beneficial if you keep on top with the condition of the gas cooker or that the heating and cooling system are still running nicely and have had a good clean.

TIP #7: Throw a party!

Even though this tip applies more when your home has properly been furnished, it is one of our top recommendations.

Invite some friends over for a meal or a drink, not necessarily a party as you might have that one friend who after one or two drinks may decide to wreak havoc among your nicely decorated china display. A get-together is a good way to celebrate your achievement and also make your home homier.

So these are the main things we would recommend you budding first-time buyers consider doing when moving into your new place. Also, an additional checklist would come in handy (that’s a bonus tip), we’ll be providing you with one of your own checklists in the coming weeks!

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘First Time Buyers’ series.

[Opening image sourced from Martin&Co Chelsea listing, check out the property now http://bit.ly/2xuSeEK]

How to deal with noisy neighbours

Struggling to sleep at night because next door like to have 12-hour rave parties in the wee hours of the morning? Rather than losing your cool, take a look at these tips to help you resolve the conflict.

While most people were ringing in the New Year for 2013, I was pounding my fist against my bedroom wall and wishing unpleasant things on my neighbours. A group of students moved in next door and host monthly parties that start at around 11pm and don’t end until 11am the next day. As can be expected, this results in very little sleep and a lot of frustration. So what’s the best way to deal with this without creating a ‘neighbours from hell’ scenario?

Your rights with noisy neighbours

According to the Noise Act 1996, any excessive noise between 11pm and 7am the next day are deemed to be causing a nuisance. The definition of ‘excessive noise’ is a bit hazy, so there is no hard and fast rule for this. As a general guide, any noise above 85 decibels (dB) is considered to be the level of noise that can cause damage after prolonged exposure, and anything above 50 dB at night could be considered noise pollution.

Don’t try to live with it, and don’t reciprocate

Trust me on this one – don’t try to live with the noise, because it won’t get easier. If you’re expecting the constant thrum of dubstep to become part of the background noise, you’ll be disappointed. Nip it in the bud as soon as it happens, otherwise you’ll only get angrier and more frustrated every time it occurs.

On the same note, don’t try to reciprocate their actions e.g. hammering the wall in annoyance, turning your music up even louder or deliberately making more noise than they are (I’ve been guilty of all three). This will only escalate things further, so don’t be tempted to vent your frustration elsewhere. Hammering the wall is also likely to leave a dent, leading to an expensive home insurance claim and a very awkward conversation with your landlord. Don’t try that.

Talk to them, but time it well

If you’re anything like me, telling your neighbours that they’re being too loud and rowdy is just about the most uncomfortable thing you can think of. That being said, about a third of all people with noisy neighbours found that actually communicating the problem to them resolved the issue straight away, according to the HomeOwners Alliance. If face-to-face interaction fills you with dread (as it does me), then leave them a polite note to explain the facts.

Timing is essential for this to be most effective. You don’t want to storm into a house full of drunken revellers during a party and start shouting at them; that’ll only lead to a bad situation. You’re better off catching them when they’re having a quiet moment so you can have a word without losing your temper.

Reporting noise pollution

This may vary depending on your local council, so check with them to ensure you’re following the best method. You can find your local authority on the Directgov website.

It’s the responsibility of your local authority to investigate any instances of noise pollution (this comes under ‘statutory nuisance’, which also covers light pollution, smoke and insect infestations). The government’s definition of what counts as a ‘statutory nuisance’ is anything that is ‘unreasonably interfering with the use or enjoyment of your premises’. So, if your next door neighbours are throwing wheelie bins at one another at 4am (this was the same New Year’s party that kept me awake all night) you’ll have good reason to initiate a complaint.

Depending on your local council, you might be provided with an email address, phone number or online form to register your complaint. Remember to stick to the facts and not to let your frustration influence what you say.

What happens next?

The noise pollution officer will visit the house and issue a ‘noise abatement’ order. This basically tells them to pipe down or they’ll face legal action. If they break this order, the noise officer is within their rights to confiscate any noise making equipment (stereos, TVs, or in my case, a set of professional, festival grade amplifiers that were brought in by a DJ) and fine them up to £5,000.

Suggest that your neighbours let you know in advance if they’re planning on having a get together. That way you can make plans to be away or be out while they’re making their noise. This shouldn’t mean that you’re forced to leave your home whenever your neighbours get a bit loud, but knowing in advance will ease the situation and allow you to keep your options open.

If things get out of hand …

Sometimes it’s not just noise that’s the problem. Where there’s a party, there’s usually alcohol, and that can bring with it a whole host of problems. If you hear any arguments or see the beginnings of a fight breaking out, then call the police straight away. If the party spills out into the street and the revellers are generally being disorderly, then that counts as a breach of the peace, and you should also call the police to deal with that.

Dealing with noisy neighbours in this way means that you’ll be able to deal with the problem quickly, maintain the moral high ground and minimise any conflict between you and your neighbours. Have a good night’s sleep!

How have you dealt with your noisy neighbours? Let me know in the comments below!

Jamie Gibbs is the lifestyle blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com. He keeps a pair of noise cancelling headphones and a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell by his bedside table ready for whenever next door have a party.

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.