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property matters; Thinks of all the benefits of a new-build property.

A FRIEND said to me on the weekend: "I'd love to buy one of those older properties. You know, the ones with the big bay windows, light airy rooms, high ceilings - lots of character...." as she drifted away into some glazed romantic fuzziness of home ownership.

She's right of course. For the most part, from the outside, older properties do seem to have loads more character. But get inside and the problems can begin, which is why new-build properties have lots of advantages - and will save you money.

With new-build, of course, you get to choose what you want. Buy off-plan and you can work with the developer to design many things to your own style, including kitchen and bathroom suites and finishes, some degree of the internal layout, even the colour of the paint on the walls.

And right now developers are bending over backwards to get these properties off their hands. So look for a deal. White goods should be standard, but maybe carpets and curtains will be thrown in. They may pay your stamp duty or your solicitor's fees.

You might even get help with your removal fees.

Raising the funds is an obvious difficulty at the moment, so where do you start? If you are a first-time buyer, think about buying with family or friends to help you get on that ladder.

Alternatively, there are shared-ownership schemes where you effectively buy into a percentage (usually minimum25 per cent) of your property and pay rent on the remainder, with the option to increase your share of ownership over time as you can afford it.

There are certain eligibility criteria for taking part in these (look up the Communities and Local Government website on www.communities.gov.uk/housing and follow the links).

A lot of the smaller developers now offer various finance schemes to help first-time buyers or buyers stuck in a chain.

Deferred equity schemes allow you to provide just 80 per cent of the funds now, with the remaining paid in five years' time, usually with no interest penalty.

You own your property 100% from day one, which is an advantage. Part exchange is another way of getting the housing market moving, with the developer taking the risk on your home in exchange for the new house.

They may seek a slightly lower valuation on your current property but weigh that up against being stuck where you are.

Also, new houses come with National House-Building Council warranties that guarantee faults and structural issues will be sorted out.

Richard Jones, director of boutique housebuilder, Ludlow Lewis.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 21, 2008
Words:430
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