Old vs new - what type of property should you go for?

Article by Mozo

Hmmm, let’s see. Do you go for old world charm, or new and fancy? Is it an historical beauty with unending character you’re after, or fresh, clean corners for the uncluttered lifestyle you crave? It’s hard when you’re torn between two worlds and have a soft spot for both, but in the end you’ve got to choose. Then again, if you purchase the federation style you’ve loved forever, you could always put some cashola aside to renovate as you please. Style combo here we come! It’s vintage chic, dontcha know?

Inheriting old wounds

The thing about gorgeous older buildings is that they’re not perfect. Nor are new dwellings, let’s be honest. But it does seem that anyone who purchases historically listed buildings or one that’s well, older than their nana, are likely to inherit a few creaks and cracks.

But is that a bad thing? If you’re a handy person, you may find yourself enjoying the job at large. If you haven’t the budget to renovate everything at once to get your older place up to speed with your lifestyle and current living standards, then perhaps acknowledging that it’s an ongoing project will help you accomplish a whole lot more - at your pace and budget.

The downside to taking your time with degreasing your old beauty is that you may be living among dust, buckets and drop sheets for longer than anticipated. But what’s a dust mask between walls, eh? If you make friends with the roller, scraper and paint thinner, then all will be well. Here’s to looking up and being proud. *Oh look. A new house.*

The absolute negatives on buying old

You probably already know how important it is to hire a professional to check for white ants and other pesky unmentionables anyway, but before you start investing in a charismatic house or apartment, hire an expert to see if the property you’re after is structurally sound.

If you don’t check this before purchase, you may find that the apple of your eye will cost you far more than you originally thought. There’s no point in spending a fortune you don’t have to get the house of your dreams right?

What about the plumbing! Can you imagine if the Art Deco apartment block with A grade views that you so desperately want to live in has plumbing that’s punctured with trillions of rusty holes? There may not be enough money in the strata kitty to cover the $100k plus job to get that up to scratch. Imagine having to chip in to that exorbitant bill! No thanks.

Old. All the way.

Not every older building has the same problems as the other. And you’ll find that some previous proud owners have tackled them, head-on. That would reduce your task and cost by a truckload!

You’ve got to admit, the benefits of purchasing old as opposed to new are potentially endless. If the property is in good nick, then you’re looking at either leaving it as is, renovating fully to your taste or creating minor adjustments to make it your own.

Sometimes all it takes is refreshing old finishes like indoor and outdoor light fittings to give the place new life. If you can’t afford a complete repaint, have you thought about just painting a feature wall? What about giant feature pot plant? A canvas or a print? Tiny adjustments here and there can really spruce up the place without having to go all out. Not immediately, anyway.

I don’t want to renovate. I want to move right in.

The general consensus for buyers who opt for a fairly new property or one that’s off the plan, is that they want a property that’s relatively hassle-free. It’s definitely some people’s dream to just buy a ready-made, perfect dwelling without a thought or concern in the world. To move in with their fresh, clean and edgy decor, simple yet intelligent design straight out of an interior design magazine.

And why not? With our busy schedules, juggling work, family and social life, sometimes a no-brainer dwelling is perfectly the best solution out there.

But what’s the downside of buying new?

If high expectation and flawless finishes dominates your mind, then disappointment may quickly follow suit. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? But there's a typical roller coaster of emotions when you purchase and move into a dwelling that you expect to be utterly and fantastically perfect.

When you first glean over the property, you may think to yourself - yes! This is a winner! It’s perfect and I’m happy! I can live here, yay! Okay, so we don’t want to put words in your mouth, but your inner dialogue may go along something like that. However after moving in and living there during the first night, first week, first month, you start to notice the ‘things’ like:

  • The shower screen is way too narrow which causes the water to flood the bathroom.
  • The walls are much too thin and you can hear everything next door.
  • The second drawer in the kitchen doesn't close properly and this upsets you more than the next door neighbour’s excessive 2nd bedroom door slamming that often jolts you awake at 6am.

We won’t continue just now, you get the drift. But if you remain open-minded and accept the potential flaws that may be, then all will be dandy. After all, nothing is perfect!

When the flaws are unacceptable

Whether you purchase an existing newby or off the plan, the way your dwelling lives and breathes is really unpredictable until you live in it yourself or your tenants do. You won’t know the inherent characteristics of your new palace till it’s properly occupied. And sure, you’ll learn to love and adore some flaws and mishaps, but when is it not okay to accept them?

Before settling, make sure you have your solicitor and building inspectors go over your contract to ensure you’re 100% happy with the result. Or at least close to it. If you’re not, your solicitor may even be able to drive the sale price down for you. There’s negotiation when you need it most.

A recap:

Risks for both - down to the gritty bits

1. If purchasing off the plan: builder doesn’t meet construction expectations and contract.

2. Off the plan or existing: unpredictable growth. If there’s oversupply in the market, especially locally, then you could see the value remain stagnant or drop.

3. If an investment and there is oversupply in the market, then you risk not letting out the property for the price you want or at all.
Hidden costs if you don’t do your research. From:

1. Building and pest inspections

2. Structural issues

3. Maintenance

4. Easements or caveats that affect the title

5. Potential council issues if you plan to renovate or subdivide property.
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