The two weeks before Christmas could prove to be the best time in the whole year to buy a new home. Builders are on the back foot, and it’s not entirely due to Brexit blues. Buffeted by stamp duty hikes and with an oversupply of expensive new homes in regeneration zones, such as Nine Elms, the market is ripe for offers.
There are deals to be done across all price brackets, especially at developments where only a few properties remain. Builders like to tidy up and move on with all stock cleared ahead of the new year’s launches.
As well as being aware of Christmas deals, it pays to know when developers’ financial year-end falls. All housebuilders quoted on the Stock Exchange have to keep shareholders happy and need to demonstrate that sales targets have been met.
Often there is a flurry of activity in the days before the financial year deadline, with eager sales staff willing to accept lower offers. Taylor Wimpey, Linden and Persimmon all have a financial year-end falling this month.
New transparency rules introduced after the 2008 banking crash require builders to disclose any inducement they are offering buyers at the time of purchase. This enables lenders to see exactly what makes up the purchase price.
One potential downside of incentives is that a mortgage lender may judge that the property is overpriced in the first place — and offer a smaller loan as a result.
Usually the best approach is to ask the developer to convert the value of any incentive into a price reduction. The opportunity may not last long. More overseas buyers are taking advantage of the weakened pound to shop for a home at a discount price, and property investors are circling, too.
Estate agents say the market has returned to a traditional pattern after the gold rush of recent years: sellers set a price, buyers make an offer, and negotiations start.
While Barratt has announced 10 per cent price cuts across its London schemes, most developers prefer to dress up discounts in the guise of incentives, such as stamp duty and legal fee refunds, furniture packs, free parking spaces and commuter season tickets, homeware vouchers — even “tech hampers” full of gadgets such as flat-screen televisions and iPads.
You are more likely to bag a bargain if you are business-like and can act quickly — preferably not having the misfortune to be stuck in a chain, though part-exchange deals are available, too. So have your mortgage finance lined up and your solicitor ready to move.
WHERE TO START YOUR CHRISTMAS BARGAIN HUNT
Getting a good deal at the same time as buying into an up-and-coming or prestigious area will bring extra rewards down the line.
Galliard has launched a winter sale across six developments in cheaper but improving London locations such as Slough — not an area that would win a beauty contest — and Hounslow, with quick travel times to London. Prices start at £139,995. Call 020 7620 1500.
Higgins Homes, which offers good-value flats in Zone 2 areas, has trimmed prices at Oval Quarter and Clissold Quarter in Stoke Newington. Prices from £440,000. Call 020 8108 4981.
Dylon Works is a rare new-build project in Sydenham, in south-east London. Trains from Sydenham station take 15 minutes to London Bridge. Flats cost from £379,995. Call Crest Nicholson on 0800 088 6430.
Reserve a home at Canonbury Cross, Islington, and get John Lewis vouchers to the value of £3,000. This low-rise scheme of flats and townhouses sits in a coveted conservation area, one of London’s nicest neighbourhoods.
The houses, priced from £1.84 million, form a new street tucked behind pretty Canonbury Square, and have a family-home layout that includes a lower-ground floor which opens on to a patio garden, and a shared communal courtyard with views of Union Chapel. Two-bedroom flats cost from £780,000.
Notting Hill Sales, an offshoot of the housing association, is also offering a £3,000 incentive, made up of John Lewis vouchers and a legal fees contribution, at Brackenbury Square in Hammersmith and Riverside at Kew Bridge Road. Call 020 3797 3469.
L&Q, another big housing association developer that sells private homes, has unveiled stamp duty deals across its London projects, including St Agnes Place in Kennington, Harvard Gardens in Walworth, Quebec Quarter in Rotherhithe and The Schoolyard in Wandsworth. Prices from £688,000. Call 0333 003 03710.
Good-value flats priced from £575,000 at Camden Courtyards, in a former optical works, are ready to move into. Clad in patterned brick and Cor-Ten steel, the architecture picks up on the site’s factory heritage and has an innovative S-shape that allows for two internal residents’ courtyards and communal roof terraces. Call 020 7428 4455.
Kidderpore Green in Hampstead has reduced-price two-bedroom flats costing from £1.25 million, with stamp duty refunded. This redevelopment of a college campus has created 128 new Arts & Crafts-style homes within a prized conservation area. Call 020 7472 0090.
Four two-bedroom apartments at Nine Elms Point, Battersea, come with stamp duty paid and a furniture package. Prices from £795,000. Call 0844 358 3271.
Two four-bedroom houses priced from £1.18 million are for sale at Putney Rise, by Barratt. Apartments cost from £530,000. Call 0844 811 4321 for more information.
BUY THE SHOW HOME
A show home can be a good buy when a builder is keen to shut up shop, as at Soho 13, where a swish three-bedroom apartment is on the market for £3.75 million. Call Barratt London on 0844 811 4321 for more information.
Finally, if you want a bargain-priced home but cannot find a buyer for your place, part-exchange can be a solution.
Buy at Laggan House, a handsome new block of mansion flats near Sunningdale in Berkshire, and developer Kebbell will take your existing home for a price set by independent valuers. Call 01344 874162. Barratt’s Movemaker scheme operates in a similar way.
GET A WIGGLE ON
Help to Buy, the Government deposit scheme, is being swept away at the end of the year — a prospect that spurred first-time buyers Oliver Johnson, 30, and Amelia Blake, 23, to snap up their one-bedroom flat at Bentley Place, Hammersmith.
The couple paid £599,950 — just below the £600,000 Help to Buy threshold. “By using the 40 per cent government equity loan we were able to add £200,000 to our budget when searching for a home,” says Amelia, a sales co-ordinator. “And our mortgage repayments are half what we were each paying in rent.”