Choosing between a shiny new-build or older characterful overseas property can be baffling. Cheryl Markosky seeks advice from the experts.
Some people are diehard fans of brand spanking new homes where you can march in and not worry about doing a thing. Others wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a new home, preferring period property with personality.
But is a period home a black hole for cash, with the maintenance you have to lavish on it simply to keep it upright? And what of bland new homes that are cookie-cutter boxes modelled on a computer plan provided by a developer?
Although he can see the merits of old and new, Roddy Aris, of Winkworth International, is generally on the side of older re-sales.
He points out that Britons have an idea of quality that’s not necessarily replicated by an overseas developer. “To make the house builder realise your dream is unrealistic. At best, you’ll only get about 80 per cent of what you desire.”
Whereas with a re-sale, if you don’t like it you can quickly knock a few walls down, paint and install a pool to create your vision, Aris says.
Also, Aris believes that it’s harder to find high-end new homes in prime locations in the Balearics or on the Riviera. “Good spots have already been built on, so most new developments end up in B areas. If you want an A-list spot, you’re more likely to find older homes.”
As long as you’re buying from a reputable builder you can take comfort in a new home purchase, suggests Michael Cunnington from MJC Associates in Mallorca.
“I tell people buying from a trusted developer, such as the Bendinat Group, means they won’t need a lawyer to check anything. But I wouldn’t say this with a private seller or some other house builders,” he explains.
A big plus in buying new is the 10-year guarantee against structural defects that comes with the property, similar to NHBC’s home construction warranty in the UK. “If your property’s second-hand and the 10-year guarantee hasn’t run out you’ll still be covered,” notes Cunnington.
Equally, he argues that if you bought off-plan at the beginning of construction, generally your asset will have increased in value by the time it’s completed. As there’s a shortage of sites where house builders can build now in Mallorca, a new-build property is bound to climb in value.
When purchasing a re-sale home, Cunnington advises employing a good lawyer who will carry out due diligence to ensure the property was built where it was meant to be and there have been no illegal add-ons.
“It’s not usual practice to have surveys carried out here. I can recommend builders who can take a look at a property, but of course this is no guarantee,” he says.Cunnington reassures purchasers by noting that old Spanish fincas have been on the island for more than 200 years and are still standing.
However, he cautions buyers searching for homes in blocks that are about 25 years old to find out the age of the plumbing and when it was last renewed. “The plumbing in your apartment might look okay, but sometimes pipes running through the building to it aren’t in great shape.”
Ray Withers, chief executive of Property Frontiers, comments on new build projects, such as Bacolet Bay on Grenada in the Caribbean. “Generally, buying new-build provides more security, providing it’s been built well and to international standards. This is not the case with older properties, but a survey can offer some certainty.”
He cautions buyers that many properties outside of Europe weren’t built to last. In the Caribbean, building technology is improving all the time.“Brand-new buildings will have the highest hurricane rating. The Caribbean climate and salt air can age materials quickly and new buildings use technology to cope with this.”
In Italy, old and new hold appeal for different buyers in equal measure. Paul Belcher, MD of Ultissimo, says it’s down to individual taste – there’s no right or wrong.
“Turn-key convenience, the attraction of shared facilities and maintenance costs are all drivers for new homes. Downsides are higher purchase taxes, including a 10 per cent IVA payment (Italian VAT) and no kitchen – it’s regarded as moveable furniture rather than part of the fittings,” he comments.
Meanwhile, those wanting the charm and authenticity of an older property might have to carry out significant work to bring it back to life. But this is where greater value’s to be found, Belcher argues.
Something old, something new – properties for sale:
The best of both worlds – a villa in Puerto Andratx, Mallorca, for £4,900,750. Built in 1986, it has been renovated with modern under-floor heating, air-conditioning and a modern pool and gym installed.
Dating back to the 1890’s, this restored Liberty Villa is in Barga, Tuscany, Italy, is on the market for £1,894,407. It has original vaulted ceilings, a formal dining room and grand main staircase.
Three-bedroom, three-bathroom updated 1968 house in Vero Beach, Florida, USA. It is on the market for £432,913 and boosts views of pool, dock and water.