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Demand for fixer-uppers slumps as shortages of builders and materials bite

Demand for “fixer-upper” homes is falling as house hunters fret about long waits for builders and spiralling project costs. Find Your Durham Home

Properties in need of work have traditionally been seen as a bargain, with savings on price used by buyers to make their own improvements.

But estate agents say a growing number of families are snubbing older houses in favour of new ones owing to fears they will have to wait months to carry out renovations in the face of labour shortages.

Many are also concerned about the fluctuating availability of basic materials, including cement, bricks and glass, which could leave them saddled with sudden budget-busting cost increases.

It is the latest example of how supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, Brexit and the energy crisis are rippling out and affecting ordinary consumers.

Travis Perkins, the British builders’ merchant, warned on Thursday that the annual rate of goods price inflation had accelerated to 11pc in the three months to September, compared with 7pc in the second quarter.

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at estate agent Knight Frank, said the turmoil was prompting cautious buyers in cities such as London to avoid homes in need of improvement.

He said: “If there’s a lot of work to do, buyers are thinking about how quickly they can get a builder in, because of the supply chain disruption we’ve seen. Of course some will just decide to wait. But in London we are now seeing people looking for new homes instead because they can just move straight in.”

Jeremy Leaf, an estate agent based in north London, said he was seeing clients both small and large rethinking major purchases because of worries about building work.

“The costs of building materials and the difficulty in getting labour are definitely pushing more people towards new homes. That is because trying to find a builder who can start within a reasonable time is one thing at the moment, but knowing roughly what they are eventually going to charge you is another altogether.”

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