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Guide to Buying a New Build: Expert Tips & Advice

Before Reserving your New Build

Research the Developer

It’s important to research the developer before reserving your new build. You don’t want to waste money on a cowboy. When buying an older property, you’ve got the reassurance that it’s stood there for years, decades, or sometimes even centuries. You can often get insight about the property from the current resident. But with a new build, you’ll be the first person to live there (for some, that’s part of the appeal). And you’ll probably be buying direct from the developer or housebuilder – so you’re putting a lot of faith in one firm. For that reason, it’s crucial to do your research.

Apply for a Mortgage in Principle

Before reserving your new build, it’s important to apply for a mortgage in principle. This will give you an idea of how much you can borrow and what your monthly payments will be. It will also show developers that you’re serious about buying. At Hamptons, we can provide you with quality financial & mortgage advice through our partners Capital Private Finance.

Get a Conveyancer

A conveyancer is a legal professional who will handle the legal aspects of buying your new build. They will ensure that everything is in order and that you’re getting what you paid for. It’s important to choose a conveyancer who has experience with new builds because they will be familiar with the nuances of the process. For example, they will know what to look for in the contract and what to ask the developer. They will also be able to advise you on any potential issues that may arise during the purchase process.

You can ask your developer for recommendations or do your own research. Look for someone who has a good reputation and who has dealt with new builds before. You can also check online reviews to see what other people have to say about their experience with a particular conveyancer.

Ask about Management Fees

New builds often come with management fees. These fees cover the cost of maintaining communal areas such as gardens and hallways. It’s important to ask about these fees before reserving your new build, so you know what you’re getting into.

Ask for Specifications of the Property

Before reserving your new build, ask for the specifications of the property. This will give you an idea of what you’re buying. You’ll be able to see what materials have been used and what appliances are included. It is really important to check the specifications instead of just relying on the promotional material and viewing the show home.

Revise Reservation Agreement

Before reserving your new build, make sure you, and your solicitor/conveyancer, read and understand the reservation agreement. This is a legally binding document that sets out the terms of the sale. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, ask your conveyancer to explain it to you.

Buying a New Build 'Off-Plan'

If you’re buying a new build ‘off-plan’, you may have the option to customise certain aspects of the property. This could include the kitchen, bathroom, or flooring. It’s important to discuss these options with the developer before reserving your new build.

Buying off-plan means that you’re buying a property before it’s been built. This can be a great way to get a new build at a lower price. However, it does come with some risks. For example, you won’t be able to see the property before you buy it. You’ll have to rely on the developer’s plans and drawings.

When buying off-plan, it’s important to do your research. Make sure you understand what you’re buying and what you’re getting for your money. You should also make sure that the developer has a good reputation.

It’s also important to be aware of the legal and financial checks that need to be carried out when buying off-plan. Your conveyancer will carry out these checks to ensure that everything is in order. They will also be able to advise you on any potential issues that may arise during the purchase process.

Process of Buying a New Build Home

Reserve the Property

Once you’ve found a new build you like, you’ll need to reserve it. This involves paying a reservation fee. The developer will then take the property off the market and start building it.

Customise Options

If you’re buying a new build ‘off-plan’, you have the option to customise certain aspects of the property. This could include the kitchen, bathroom, or flooring. It’s important to discuss these options with the developer before reserving your new build.

Legal and Financial Checks

Before exchanging contracts, your conveyancer will carry out legal and financial checks on the property. This is to ensure that everything is in order and that there are no issues that could affect the sale. The legal checks will include verifying that the developer has the right to sell the property and that there are no legal issues that could affect the sale. The financial checks will include verifying that the property is worth what you’re paying for it and that there are no issues with the mortgage.

If any issues are identified during the legal or financial checks, your conveyancer will advise you on what to do next. This could include renegotiating the price of the property or pulling out of the sale altogether.

Survey the Property

Before exchanging contracts, it is crucial to survey the property. This will help identify any issues that need to be addressed before completion. A survey is a detailed inspection of the property that can reveal any structural defects, damage, or other issues that may not be immediately apparent. It is important to have a survey done before exchanging contracts because once the contracts are exchanged, you are legally bound to purchase the property, regardless of any issues that may arise later.

A survey can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises after you have moved in and can also give you leverage to negotiate a lower price if any issues are found. There are different types of surveys available, such as a homebuyer report or a full building survey, and the type of survey you need will depend on the age, condition, and construction of the property.

Exchange of Contracts

Once everything is in order, you will exchange contracts with the developer. This is a legally binding agreement that sets out the terms of the sale. Once the exchange has taken place, the contract is said to have been made. This marks the point when the contract becomes legally binding. The time at which the contract is made will depend on the method of exchange. The main methods used for the exchange of contracts are telephone exchange, personal exchange, postal exchange, and document exchange.

Completion and Handover

Once the property is complete, you’ll complete the sale. This involves paying the remaining balance and taking possession of the property. You can now grab your keys from the developer and start moving into your brand-new home.

Snagging

After completion, you’ll have a period of time to identify any issues with the property. This is known as the snagging period. The developer will then fix any issues that are identified.

Top Tips for Buying a New Build Home

New Build Quality and Finish

NHBC warranties and other new home warranties are not going to cover workmanship and quality finishes. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you are happy with the quality of the build at every stage of the process. By the time you instruct solicitors, you should have seen copies of the plans and specifications of what the developer intends to build. The more detail this shows, the better. If you are buying a new build home ‘off-plan’, do not rely solely on the developer’s promotional material and a visit to the show home.

Warranty Insurance

NHBC and similar new home warranties are supposed to give peace of mind for the first 10 years after the construction of the property. Make sure there is a “snagging” provision in your contract to allow you to get little issues sorted directly with the developer. During the first two years from completion of your home, NHBC will step in if you claim against the developer and the developer fails to carry out the remedial work.

Warranties of White Goods

When it comes to your white goods - such as cookers, dishwashers, fridge freezers, hobs, washing machines, and dryers - that you have specified in your new home, ask the developer to hand over guarantees to you on completion. You’ll want to have this stipulated in the contract.

Pros & Cons of Buying a New Build

Pros:

  • Low Bills: New builds are designed to be energy-efficient, which means you could save money on your energy bills in the long run.
  • Ready to go: You can move into a new build as soon as it’s completed, without having to wait for previous owners to move out.
  • Modern Living: New builds are designed with modern living in mind, so you can expect contemporary features and amenities.
  • Design a home - buying off-plan: If you buy a new build off-plan, you may be able to customise the design and layout of your home.
  • Chain-free: As you’ll be the first owner, you won’t have to worry about any chains of buyers above you.

Cons:

  • New Home Premium: New builds can be more expensive than older properties, and you may have to pay a premium for the privilege of being the first owner.
  • New Build Conveyancing: The conveyancing process for new builds can be more complicated than for older properties, so you may need to hire a specialist conveyancer.
  • Quality & Snags: New builds can sometimes have quality issues and snags that need to be fixed, which can be frustrating.
  • Delays: There can be delays in the construction process, which can affect your moving-in date.

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