Buying a new build property in the UK can be an exciting venture, offering modern designs, energy efficiency, and the opportunity to be the first owner. However, purchasing a new build comes with its own set of considerations and unique aspects that buyers should be aware of. From understanding warranties and contracts to navigating snagging issues and managing completion dates, being well-informed is crucial.
In this article, we will explore some of the key factors to consider when buying a new build property in the UK.
Researching the Developer
Before committing to a new build property, it is essential to research the developer and their track record. Look into their reputation, financial stability, previous projects, and customer reviews. Establishing the developer’s credibility and understanding their commitment to quality construction and customer satisfaction can provide reassurance about the reliability of the project.
In the worst case scenario, where a developer goes into administration or becomes insolvent between exchange and completion, you could be left without the flat and no way to get back your deposit paid! The development site might be sold to another developer or a third party, the sale proceeds from this sale would usually first go to the creditors and the remainder of the sale proceeds (if any) will then be divided among the remaining purchasers who had paid a deposit.
It is also important to find out whether the necessary planning permission has been obtained before the exchange of contracts.
Comprehensive Inspection and Snagging
While new build properties are expected to be in pristine condition, it is important to conduct a thorough inspection and snagging process before completion if possible. Snagging refers to identifying and rectifying any defects, minor issues, or unfinished work on the property. Engaging a professional surveyor can help ensure that all necessary repairs and finishing touches are addressed before you take possession of the property.
It is important to confirm if the developer has agreed to any post-completion repair obligations. This will help determine whether the developer is obligated to address any defects or minor issues found after completion.
Understanding Warranties and Guarantees
New build properties typically come with warranties and guarantees that protect against structural defects and substandard workmanship. The most common warranty in the UK is the NHBC Buildmark warranty, but other providers, such as Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty, also offer similar coverages. Familiarise yourself with the details of the warranty, including its duration, coverage, and any additional guarantees provided by the developer.
Reviewing the purchase contract thoroughly is crucial when buying a new build property. Pay close attention to the payment schedule, completion dates, and any contingencies or conditions that need to be met before completion. Ensure that the contract includes provisions for potential delays, penalties, and dispute resolution mechanisms. Seeking legal advice from a property lawyer specialising in new build transactions can help clarify any uncertainties and protect your interests.
Completion Dates and Delays
Completion dates for new build properties can sometimes be subject to delays due to construction issues or external factors beyond the developer’s control. Early completion can also happen which would have significant implications on the funding and lending of the purchase. Maintaining open communication with the developer and staying informed about the progress of the construction can help manage expectations and ensure a smooth transition to your new home.
Completion of the property is also not conditional upon your securing a mortgage offer. Most mortgages are only valid for 6 months, and the period between the exchange of contracts and completion of a new build purchase can sometimes span several years. Therefore, it’s essential to plan with your financial arrangements for the purchase and ensure you have the necessary funds ready for completion. If the contracts have been exchanged and you are unable to secure a mortgage by the completion date, you would be in breach of the contract, and the developer is likely to rescind your contract and forfeit the deposit you’ve paid.
Ongoing Development and Amenities
Consider the surrounding area and any ongoing development plans that may impact the property and its surroundings in the future. Research the local amenities, such as schools, transportation links, shops, and recreational facilities, to ensure they meet your requirements. Being aware of any planned infrastructure projects or changes in the vicinity can help you make an informed decision about the long-term prospects of the area.
If you intend to purchase a new leasehold property, such as an apartment, you must consider the amount of service charge you will be paying and pay close attention to the structure of service charges. Most new leasehold developments appoint a management company to maintain the development and the building, and the level of service charge can vary.
Excessive service charges may negatively affect the property’s marketability, as potential buyers could be deterred by the amount of service charge, they would have to pay. Mortgage lenders also take the amount of service charge into account when determining the mortgage amount a borrower is eligible for.
Everything you need to know
Buying a new build property in the UK offers many advantages but it also carries significant risks, so it requires careful consideration and due diligence before deciding to go this route. Researching the developer, conducting comprehensive inspections, and understanding warranties and guarantees are crucial steps to ensure the property meets your expectations. Thoroughly reviewing the purchase contract, managing completion dates and potential delays, and staying informed about ongoing development in the area will contribute to a successful purchase. By being well-informed and seeking professional advice when needed, buyers can navigate the process of buying a new build property and embark on their homeownership journey with confidence.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.