Is it better to buy new or old ?

16 December 2023

The choice of buying new or old depends on individual tastes and plans. They meet different expectations.

Buying a new-build property involves having a house built to plans or buying a new-build property that has already been completed.

The most common situation is the VEFA (vente en l'état futur d'achèvement) of a property to be built. In this case, you need to find and buy a plot of land, then wait for the building work to be completed. (one year or more)

Buying off-plan allows you to have your home fitted out and equipped to your own taste, while still being modern, functional and comfortable.

New homes are also highly energy-efficient, so you can save on electricity bills.

The price per square metre is higher in new homes than in old ones (around 15 to 20% higher), but notary fees are lower (2 to 3% of the value of the property).

Buying a new property also means that you are exempt from property tax for the first two years. The exemption applies from 1 January following completion of the building. It should be noted, however, that a local authority has the right to set a ceiling, or even abolish altogether, its share of the exemption for all or certain new buildings constructed on its territory.

The future homeowner benefits from a number of legal guarantees, particularly in the event of problems with the building or equipment:

- The builder's structural damage insurance can be activated for two years.

    - The ten-year guarantee comes into play in the event of defects affecting the durability of the construction of the new home. The builder is liable for ten years.

There is some assistance available for buying a new home:

    - Local authority grants are available in addition to government grants, and are subject to a means test.

    - The zero-rate loan (PTZ), which is intended for first-time buyers of a principal residence, can be used to finance up to 40% of the purchase price.

    - In certain areas earmarked for urban redevelopment, VAT on new homes is reduced to 5.5%.

Certain tax relief schemes, such as the Pinel and Pinel + schemes, can be used for rental investment, provided that the investment is in a property located in a multi-family building in a prime location (A, Abis or B1), and subject to a ceiling of €5,500 per m² and €300,000 per annum.

Buying an older home has its advantages and disadvantages, not least the availability of the property.

Buying an older home means you can plan for the real thing, rather than a blueprint. It's easier to manage the time involved (moving in, etc.), and future homeowners can get the keys in about 3 months.

Buying an old property may also require renovation work. You'll need to take into account the estimated cost of this work and factor it into your purchase budget.

The older the property, the more maintenance and renovation costs may be added. However, if the property is less than ten years old, the benefit of the ten-year guarantee underwritten by the builder is transferred to the new owner. In co-ownership, some maintenance work is recurrent (maintenance of car parks, rendering, etc.).

Notaire's fees represent around 8% of the sale price for the purchase of an older home. There is no exemption from property tax, but there is a temporary exemption for energy savings. To qualify for this, the cost of the work must exceed :

    - 10,000 per dwelling in the year preceding the first year in which the exemption applies,

    - 15,000 per home if the expenditure was paid in the three years preceding the year in which the exemption applies.

Support for buying existing property is particularly available for projects involving work, notably the zero-rate loan and the Denormandie scheme, which runs until 31 December 2023. A cousin of the Pinel scheme, its eligibility conditions are identical and the tax reduction applied is that of the Pinel +. 

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