If you’re buying a new build home, it’s advisable to instruct a solicitor who is familiar with the additional complexities involved with this type of transaction. At Grindeys we have a specialist team dedicated to new build, supporting our clients through every step of the buying process.
The purchase of a new build property is a little more complicated than buying an existing home. You will often be buying ‘off plan’, the completion date might not be fixed when contracts are exchanged, and you’ll need to know what warranties are in place. The builder might also impose a short exchange deadline which must be met to ensure you don’t lose your reservation fee or any other incentives such as a contribution towards Stamp Duty Land Tax or additional contents.
We have extensive experience in new build and are proud to have earned a place on the recommended panel of many national house builders. We have the expertise to check that all appropriate planning permissions are in place for the construction of the property and to ensure that all necessary agreements are provided in relation to the adoption of roads and sewers, access rights and routes for other services. We are also experienced in handling the tight deadlines usually set by developers to meet reservation expiry dates and completion timescales.
Overview of the new build buying process
There are 4 stages when buying a new build property:
- exchange of contracts
Once you’ve found a property to buy you will be asked to complete a reservation form. This sets out the price agreed, incentives offered (if any) and the date by which contracts must be exchanged. When you reserve a new build property you will be asked to pay a reservation fee (usually between £500 - £1,000) which you may lose if contracts are not exchanged within the agreed timescale. The majority of builders stipulate a 28-day exchange deadline.
The builder’s solicitor will provide us with a contract pack, following which the required legal searches will be requested – these include a local search and a mining report depending on the location of the property you’re buying.
If you require a mortgage to fund your purchase, you’ll need to have this in place (together with your deposit) and we’ll need to receive a copy of your mortgage offer prior to contracts being exchanged.
Once plans have been approved, all enquiries responded to and satisfactory search results received, you will be asked to pay your deposit so that contracts can be exchanged. At this point you will be legally-bound to purchase the property.
It’s unusual to be given a fixed date for completion when buying a new build home. At the time you complete a reservation form you will be given an estimated date on which the property will be ready. Depending on the timescale of the development, you may receive a revised date for completion after contracts have been exchanged.
When the house is ready for occupation the builder will serve a notice which then formalises the date on which you will be expected to complete. The period of time between this notice and your completion date will have been agreed when contracts were exchanged.
During this period we’ll ask you to pay any final balance including legal fees, disbursements and stamp duty. We’ll also request your mortgage funds from your lender (if applicable). Prior to completion the builder will usually give you a demonstration of your new home, allowing you to inspect the property before moving in.
The Consumer Code for Home Builders sets out the mandatory requirements that all home builders must meet - you can obtain a copy at http://www.consumercode.co.uk/
Helpful tips when buying a new build property
- check the builders are members of NHBC to give you confidence that the property is built to a high quality
- check the house has a warranty from Zurich Municipal, NHBC, LABC or Premier, all of which provide a 10-year guarantee
- measure your property to make sure your furniture fits – show homes can sometimes have smaller furniture to make the rooms seem bigger
- check the site and house plans carefully
- stay in regular contact with the developer’s site office to keep up to date with the construction timetable
- instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf at the earliest opportunity to make sure you can meet the reservation timetable
Advantages of buying a new build home
- you often have the benefit of choosing your own fixtures and fittings, flooring etc.
- no time or money spent at the outset on maintenance or decorating
- a 10-year warranty protects you from major expenses for any structural defects
- new build homes are usually more energy efficient which means a saving on utility bills as well as reducing your household’s carbon footprint
- new homes are built to the latest safety standards with high levels of security
Help to Buy for new build homes
With a Help to Buy Equity Loan the Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your newly built home. This means you’ll only need a 5% deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest.
You can find everything you need to know about Help to Buy Equity Loans at https://www.helptobuy.gov.uk/equity-loan/equity-loans/
Pros and cons of Help to Buy for new build properties include:
- you may find it easier to secure a mortgage for the remaining 75% of the purchase price
- only a small deposit is required
- 5 years with no repayments
- the Government will own 20% of your property so any rise in its value will increase the amount repayable to them
- there are limits on the purchase price
- you can’t sub-let the property
- Help to Buy Equity Loans are only available for a main residence