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Should you invest in off plan or refurbish a property

Posted in Property News on 11 Nov 2019

If you’re looking around for properties, you could end up facing a decision whether to buy a new property off-plan or an older property that you can refurbish.

Both offer different benefits, but which option is best for a property investor?

WHAT IS BUYING OFF-PLAN?

Buying off-plan means purchasing a property when it’s in the planning or development stages.

As the property is not yet built, you’ll have to rely on the accuracy of the plans. Therefore, you need to be able to trust the developer. Do some research to check out their reputation and the standard of their other builds. Are they known for the high quality of their developments?

You also need to be clear about the purchasing process. Off-plan properties are often purchased in stages. A percentage of the cost will be due at different times. You need to ensure you have the required amount at each payment stage.

THE ADVANTAGES OF BUYING OFF-PLAN

There are some advantages to buying off-plan as new builds can be more energy efficient than older properties and require less maintenance. They’ll also have a contemporary design and modern features.

Off-plan projects are sometimes competitively priced at the early stages to attract investors. This may be enticing for a residential buyer, but it doesn’t always work so well for a property investor.

THE DOWNSIDE OF BUYING OFF-PLAN

You could end up tying up funds in a property that decreases in value during the time it takes to be built. Or, in some cases, never gets built at all. Property developers can end up having problems securing finance. In a worst-case scenario, the development company may collapse before the property is finished.

Mortgages can be another problem when buying off-plan. Most mortgage offers are only valid for a period of six months, which means you can’t lock in your mortgage rate. This gives you the additional risk of having to source a competitive mortgage at the time of the project’s completion.

THE ADVANTAGES OF REFURBISHING A PROPERTY

There are many benefits to purchasing an older property and refurbishing it. Firstly, older houses are generally more spacious, giving you greater flexibility in how you utilise the property.

The beauty of a refurb is that you can assess the current market and decide what’s most in demand. Then you can adapt the house or apartment to appeal to that audience. For example, if you intend to turn it into a house in multiple occupation (HMO), you can include design features that will appeal to these tenants.

Property auctions are excellent places to find suitable refurb properties, and you can often pick up a bargain as the seller may be looking for a quick sale. If you go online, property websites will use terms such as ‘unmodernised properties’ to advertise refurbs.

THE DOWNSIDE OF REFURBISHING A PROPERTY

If you’re planning to refurbish an older property, you need to have a good idea of how much the whole project is going to cost at the outset. Then make sure the investment stacks up against the potential returns.

As well as the repairs or renovations required, you may need to boost the property’s energy efficiency.

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