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The pros and cons

ust as some of us wouldn’t consider second-hand clothes, some of us think that vintage items from a different area have more style or character

than something fresh from the production line. And so it is with houses, to some extent, though of course there are far bigger issues to consider that are not just about taste, especially if you are buying as an investment more than pure lifestyle.

Whether a pristine new-build with all the latest integrated technology or a century-old stone house with original features fl oats your boat, have you considered all the pros and cons of new vs old?

Off-plan projects have fallen off in both production and popularity since the global downturn, but with new-builds often being sold at similar prices to resales due to a surplus on the market, there are important aspects to weigh up. So, with resales, what you see is what you

get. You can see the location, whether the pool area actually catches the sun, and you get a feel for how something has been lived in, how it

works as a home. Obviously there will be wear and tear unless

it’s just had a brand-new refi t,and a period home will have been maintained/renovated many times, but how well is the key. Period homes come with their own quirks – whether low ceilings, small windows or outdated plumbing so it’s essential to have a survey undertaken before you buy. In many countries, like France and Spain,

it may not be commonplace to get one done when you purchase – but it will pick up potential problems with the property that could end up costing you money. Does the property comply with modern building regulations? Have any alterations been done with the correct planning permissions? Get your lawyer to check. Complex inheritance laws where properties are co-owned by several people who will need to give their permission for a property to be sold could mean long delays. With newer resales this won’t be an issue, but obviously you don’t get the pristine blank canvas

that is a new-build, which can mean a far simpler purchase process.

In love with the new Brand-new properties can be divided into those that are bought off-plan (before they are built) and those that have already been constructed. Until fi ve years ago, buying off plan was the

investor’s favoured method of buying property, but then thousands of new homes stalled on the drawing board or building site. In some buoyant markets, off-plan is still thriving again (Istanbul is a good example) and buying this way has historically been a way of paying less for a new property - purchasers secure a discount by funding the building process. After paying a deposit you then pay the rest in stage payments as the build progresses. These days, when prices of resales have dropped considerably, many people won’t take the risk of buying offplan although there are advantages to cherry-picking the best units in a development and having a say in the fi xtures and fi ttings.

Check the developer’s track record and recent projects – the same thing you should do if buying a newly completed property. There are dozens of developments on the

outskirts of holiday resorts, or poor locations that should never have been built: look beyond the price tag and don’t buy on a failing community struggling to maintain itself. That said, new-build has many fans, especially amongst the high-end sector, where buyers expect the latest technology, fi nishes and remote-controlled appliances. New-builds are built to the latest building standards, and usually with a ten-year guarantee – though remember, these might not be the same as the UK – and in countries such as Italy fi tted kitchens aren’t always included in the price. New-builds are easier to maintain for holiday

rentals, and are often more popular in the resort apartment sector. Guests prefer contemporary minimalism and new, modern fi ttings. Although you may be liable to a VAT type tax on

new-builds (in France it is 20 per cent), generally you could expect very little extra outlay on top of the purchase price.


Will you need to spend to maintain and/ or update the property? Do you know exactly

what you are getting? Will it appeal to the local holiday rentals market?

NEW What other projects

has the developer previously delivered? Can you envisage

how the property will work for you? Are you buying

something in a good location in a healthy community?


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