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.

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 per cent — 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 per cent — less than buying a privately built flat, and more than £283,000, or 52 per cent, 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.


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 fallout from the Brexit vote.

Adrian Plant, director and head of new homes at estate agents Currell, says: “With 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 in 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.



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 most risky 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.

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 to residents, talk to the local paper, study police crime statistics and visit the flat during the day and at night.


How will the general election affect house prices?

The announcement of a snap general election in June came as a surprise to many. If you’re considering buying or selling in the near future, this is how the election may affect you. Certain areas of the UK’s property market have been running hot in recent years, to the point that both the Bank of England and the previous government have brought in regulations to cool prices. Despite these strong market conditions, major political events often kick off a period of uncertainty.

Here, we take a look at what’s likely to happen to house prices in the run up to the election.  You may have heard that transactions tend to ease off in the build up to a general election, as buyers and sellers wait to see the outcome. Spring also tends to be a particularly busy period for the UK housing market, with the number of sales often climbing from February through to June.

Will a snap general election make any difference? If anything, it’s likely to have less of an effect on house prices than a standard general election. With only six weeks to go until polling day, there will be much less time than usual for any hesitancy to build. It’s also worth remembering that political uncertainty has become the norm recently – and that last year’s referendum on leaving the EU had little effect on the residential market. How will the election result affect the property market? It’s too early to tell, as parties have not yet released the full details of their policies. With the proposed ban on letting fees now unlikely to come in to force until next year, continued debate over stamp duty reform and full details of the first starter home schemes yet to emerge, it promises to be an interesting year for the property market, no matter which party wins on election day.

‘Property Brothers’ has to be one of the best Property show


Property Brothers is a Canadian reality tv series that is produced by Cineflix, and the original show in the Property Brothers Franchise. It airs on HGTV  in the United States. The series features identical twin brothers Jonathon and Drew Scott (born April 28, 1978) who help home buyers to purchase and renovate “fixer-uppers.”

10 Ways to Find or Add More Space to Your Home


We all want more space, better space, more beautiful space and best-value space – but what are the best ways to find it?

Start with what you’ve got
In-up-out-down: this is my mantra when it comes to adding space to a home.

In general terms, in-up-out-down is the sequence of cost-effectiveness when it comes to finding the additional space you need. ‘In’ is the space you already have, ‘up’ might be a loft conversion, ‘out’ could be an extension, and ‘down’ would be a basement. So number one on the list of most cost-effective ways to find what you are looking for is inside what you already have.

It’s extraordinary how often it is possible – by remodelling and rearranging spaces, and making best use of the square feet taken up with corridors, hallways, under-stairs areas and landings – to find tremendous additional space and transform a home with very little building work.

Reach up
Second in line, and often the most cost-effective way to add significant amounts of additional space, is to go up.

The most common and popular way to do this is with a loft conversion. Lofts can be very budget-friendly because there are no ground works or foundations to worry about and there is often the possibility, without any need for a planning application, to add a whole new floor to a house.

Loft conversions, and loft extensions (when combined with a dormer roof extension) are particularly appropriate for adding bedrooms and bathrooms, but are also very popular for a home-based office.

Extend yourself
An extension to the rear or side (or both) of your property is next in line on my list of cost-effectiveness.

While the need for new foundations will often make this a more expensive option than a loft conversion, if the additional space you need is on the ground floor – such as for a larger kitchen or living area – then an extension might be the best choice.

It’s really important when designing an extension to think about the layout of the whole floorplan, not just of the extension. All too often, a box is added to the rear of a property and the effect on the existing rooms is not taken into account, often creating a gloomy middle area, far from any windows – so always look for ways that your extension can open up existing spaces as well.

Dig down
While adding space with a basement is generally speaking the least cost-effective option in terms of price per square foot, that doesn’t mean it’s always poor value. In many cases, all other options have been exhausted or are not feasible, and where property values are high enough, a basement extension can add tremendous value to a home.

The key is often to really think through how the additional space is going to be used. If what you want is a home cinema or a gym and sauna, then lots of daylight might not be a requirement, but if the space is wanted for a kitchen, living space or bedroom, the art is often to design it so the space feels as un-basement-like as possible.

Work with plans
My starting point with any project where space is at a premium is to get a floorplan down on paper. When exploring how different spaces can work together, how the circulation will work, what the views across and between the spaces might be and how the daylight might flow, a floorplan is hugely helpful.

By creating a scaled floorplan of the existing footprint and then laying tracing paper over the top to sketch possibilities, you can really start to discover all the different options and assess which are the most promising.

One little aside is that estate agent’s floorplans can be a helpful guide, but they are often less than accurate and sometimes can be terribly misleading. Ideally (and always before building anything) invest in a proper set of accurate drawings, prepared by a land surveyor.