5 June 2018

Buying a new build

By Stephanie Connor, Solicitor.

Buying a new build property is very different to the purchase of an existing property. Sometimes new builds are bought ‘off-plan’, before a brick has even been laid. In these circumstances you are reliant on the specifications given by the developer which can change whilst the property is being constructed, leading to disappointment if the finished house is dissimilar to the show home.

When you put in your offer to buy, you are normally expected to pay a non-refundable reservation fee which can be in the region of £500 – £2,000. The fee will be forfeited if you do not exchange contracts within the timeframe set by the developer, which tends to be 28 days. There is no upward chain because the developer is simply selling the property to you and they are not buying at the same time.

Mortgages can be an issue when buying a new build property. Standard mortgage offers last for six months and often contracts are exchanged with completion taking place long after that. Delays can occur during construction, so it may be necessary to seek either an extension on your mortgage or apply for a new one, which could be on different terms.

You will be the first owner of the property, and one of the benefits of that is that the property should not need any major works for some years. In addition, you will normally receive guarantees for appliances fitted in the property as well as the standard construction warranty from a company like NHBC. You can make your mark on the property and often have the chance to choose tiles and other fittings. The property will be constructed to the most up-to-date specifications in respect of building regulations.

New build properties tend to have smaller rooms than older buildings, and have smaller gardens. If you are one of the first to move in on a new estate then you are likely to be living in a building site for many months. The roads may not be fully made up until all the properties are sold. Although snagging issues with the property are normally dealt with around the time of completion of your purchase, sometimes issues with the property itself are not apparent straight away and it can be difficult to ensure the developer rectifies these when they have already left the site.

It is important to seek advice from a Solicitor with experience of new build properties. They will advise you of any additional requirements, and seek to ensure your purchase goes through smoothly.

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