Brand new vs pre-loved home: which is best?

There are some things that even a brand new home cannot beat when compared to a pre-loved one. Picture: Max Rahubovskiy/Pexels

There are some things that even a brand new home cannot beat when compared to a pre-loved one. Picture: Max Rahubovskiy/Pexels

Published May 20, 2023


The idea of moving into a brand new home and being the first residents to ever live in it is exciting; it is a blank canvas on which to build memories, and a clean slate to decorate as you please.

Not only this, but everything within the property is brand new, including fixtures, fittings, and all electrical connections.

Given a choice for such a home and an existing one, would anyone really choose the latter?

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Actually, say the experts, there are some buyers who would, although many do prefer the idea of brand new.

“The right home is the one that works best for you,” says Gus van der Spek, chief executive of Aview Properties.

“It depends where you are in your life stage and what you are after.”

Harcourts South Africa chief executive Richard Gray says one of the main benefits of buying a property in a new development is that the properties are typically brand new and come with guarantees from the developer.

"New developments often offer modern, stylish homes that are built to the latest standards and trend, and come with guarantees from the developer, giving buyers peace of mind.”

Another benefit of buying a property in a new development is that they are often designed with security in mind, including gated access, CCTV surveillance, and 24-hour security patrols.

"New developments often provide security services and features that are included in the levies, meaning buyers don't have to worry about additional security costs," he says.

In addition, new developments often offer amenities that are not always available in the second-hand market, such as communal facilities like swimming pools, clubhouses, and gyms. These amenities “can be a big draw” for buyers who are looking for convenient and enjoyable lifestyles.

However, there are also advantages to buying in the second-hand market.

"The second-hand market often provides larger properties and more space than new developments, which can be a major consideration for buyers who value space and privacy. In addition, buyers in the second-hand market often don't have to deal with levies and homeowners association fees, which can be restrictive and expensive in some new developments."

Gray emphasises the importance of doing research before making a decision on whether to buy in a new development or the second-hand market.

"It's important for buyers to consider their individual needs and preferences, as well as their budget and long-term goals, when deciding between a new development or the second-hand market.”

If you opt for a new build however, you will be rewarded with modern features, more amenities, a greater resale value, and flexible financing, Van der Spek notes.

Also, you will not need a deposit, says Andre van der Merwe of Chas Everitt Benoni. In most cases there are no bond or transfer fees needed either.

“The major reason for choice of new builds is primarily that the property is brand new with little maintenance required.”

David Sedgwick, managing director of Horizon Capital Residential says new home advantages also include being able to personalise it more with your own finishes.

“There is also the feeling of ‘new’ and being the first person to live in it. New properties include a five-year latent defects liability, and as newer buildings are more energy efficient, monthly operating costs are generally lower.”

Property professionals says that developers will often be open to allowing you to select their own internal colour scheme and choice of finishes, provided you commit to these prior to installation.

But there are disadvantages too – new homes take time to build and you should expect delays, Sedgwick says. There may also be a difference in your expectations and the reality of the end product. In addition, a new build is sold at a premium price compared to existing properties.

“The advantages to older buildings is that they usually have a larger square meterage than new developments. You can also physically see what you are buying.”

Van der Merwe agrees: “Often a brand new home comes at a premium in terms of both price and the smaller size of the home. But existing homes still have transfer duty payable and often may require a deposit.”

Furthermore, existing homes can have hidden maintenance issues that are only picked up later on, Sedgewick says. Older buildings are also not as energy efficient as newer ones, these properties may also need some updating or renovating, and there will be a transfer duty cost.

Furthermore, older homes may have issued with design flow, and when fixing up or extending, it is often difficult to stay in budget. By buying a new build though, you are saving on the ‘hassle-factor’ and dreaded ‘unknown final price’ of attending alterations/renovations when customizing an existing property.

What to take note of when buying a new build

Van der Spek says you must do your homework on the developer.

“Look for a company with a reputable track record and good references. Also be sure to conduct snags and put everything in writing.”

A large component in deciding on a new build is the team employed to deliver on expectations, Upton adds.

You should also ensure you understand the agreement you signed and know when occupation will take place, and what the occupational costs will be if you move in before it is registered in your name, van der Merwe says.

“Know what the estimated levies and rates will be if it is a sectional title property, and take these amounts into consideration for your affordability.”

Another important aspect of purchasing into a new development is understanding the product being offered, the orientation of the home, privacy issues, and specification of finishes down to the finer detail.