Ed Jephson of Stacks Property Search says, “In the country, more and more buyers who used to say ‘period only’ will be looking at both new and period. There’s an aspirational funkiness to owning a good new eco home. Downsizers in particular will be looking for properties that are low maintenance, energy efficient, and that incorporate modern design features. Low outgoings are always a priority.
“But a good new build in rural areas can be hard to find. Most new developments are either large scale housing estates at the lower end of the market or very high end one-off projects. Middle market developments are few and far between and demand is high for the good ones.
“There’s a growing appetite for properties that tick all the environmental boxes, and buyers should accept that significant premiums will apply. The cost of retro-fitting old draughty period properties is eye-wateringly high, and it’s generally buyers who have looked at this option and started to appreciate the upheaval and finance that is required who are most enthusiastic about buying new.”
James Law of Stacks Property Search says, “Buying brand new, or a property that’s been built in the last five years or so can be a fantastic way of future-proofing against rising energy costs; but not all new is equal. The required standards for new builds are woeful, so it’s a big mistake to assume that buying new guarantees great insulation and low energy consumption, and it’s important to be sure that what you’re buying is sustainable for the long term.
“Some of the best properties are those that have been custom built for the owner that were never intended to be sold on or profited from but that have come onto the market due to unforeseen circumstances. The quality tends to be high compared with properties built by developers.
“Check that sustainable building materials are being used that are environmentally friendly and have minimal impact on the environment. Be clear about what energy efficient features are specified, for instance solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal systems. These will reduce the property’s carbon footprint and also its reliance on fossil fuels.
“Don’t ignore the outside space. The developer should use green landscaping techniques such as rainwater harvesting, composting and planting of native plants to minimise water usage and promote biodiversity.
“A good starting place is to look at other properties that have been completed by the developer and if possible to talk to the current owners about their experience of buying and living in the property.
“Reserving a property at an early stage in the build can be hugely advantageous, both financially, and because buyers are likely to have the opportunity to customise the design, layout and spec to suit their specific requirements.”
James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search says, “In the UK, there are some niche developers who are doing everything right, designing beautiful new passive properties that are world class, but most developers are doing the minimum that’s required of them by law. Including environmental features does increase the cost of the build and consequently the finished property. Many of the best projects are one-off designs being built by individuals.
“Young families heading into a new build property should make sure it’s fit for purpose for the future. The extra spend now is money that won’t be required to retrofit old properties in the future, and of course there will be huge benefits in terms of energy usage. It’s a hard decision to take when it involves taking out a bigger mortgage, but the benefits are enormous.
“The younger generations are certainly more consciously active in looking to future proof the planet and their lives and demand will increase for well insulated properties with key features so developers will have to adapt their offering. In the meantime, anybody buying a new property should check developers claims carefully.”
Stacks Property Search, 01594 842880 / www.stacks.co.uk