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five ways to pay less for — or upgrade — your new-home buy this festive season

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Thu 28 Nov 2019

five ways to pay less for — or upgrade — your new-home buy this festive season

As developers cut their prices and offer freebies in the festive period, there are many bargains to be had.

From negotiating your offer to asking for carpets and flooring thrown in, here are the best ways to save yourself money if you're thinking of buying a new home this Christmas.

1. Make a smart offer

Don't assume the advertised price is set in stone. If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so make a smart offer.

“Often developers prefer to negotiate only once an offer has been formally presented rather than splash incentives across all advertising material, as this can often devalue a scheme and make the developer look a little too keen,” explains Michael Stone of Stone Real Estate.

Discounts on new builds can vary from three to 20 per cent.

2. Do your homework

Homework is imperative — you need to know how many homes have already been sold on the site.

The common wisdom is that developers are particularly keen to seal a deal soon after a scheme first goes on sale, and later, when they have just a few units left to shift.

So get in first — or last — for the best deals.

Walter Mythen, new homes director at JOHNS&CO estate agents, advises buyers to research the recent sale prices of other nearby homes and use that as a basis for deciding how much to offer.

But don’t be insulting. “Don’t shoot too low as this can often alienate a developer from the start.”

3. Get an 'Agreement in Principle' before you start

Back up your offer with evidence you are a viable buyer. It’s good to get a mortgage approval in principle and a solicitor lined up.

4. Savings don't always mean money

If you can’t get a cash discount there are other ways of saving money. Developers commonly offer enticements from stamp duty or legal fees contributions, to service charge discounts, furniture packages or gifts such as an annual travel card.

Some freebies are worth more than others.

One of the most valuable extras is a parking space — even if you don’t need one yourself, it’s very good when the time comes to move on.

5. Ask for upgrades

Make life easy for the developer, says Thea Heaton, head of new homes at Strutt & Parker in Guildford.

“It’s worth asking for carpets, landscaping, upgrading flooring if it hasn’t already been laid, and stamp duty paid. These are the easiest things for developers to facilitate.”

Finally, a note of caution: don’t get carried away with the freebies. Some sound great but aren’t really worth very much in cash terms. If you don’t like the house, don’t buy it.