Purchasing a property on a new build development is appealing to many home-buyers, especially first time buyers.
Not only can you move into a brand new house that requires minimum work, most come with a warranty that covers any defects or issues within a certain period of time.
However, it’s not all positive. While there are many pros to new build homes, there are also quite a few cons to note. So, it’s essential that you know everything about the new build property you’re buying.
The best way to find out as much information as possible about a new build property is to simply ASK! But, that’s easier said than done.
Like with any property search, remembering all the questions to ask when buying a new build house can be tricky.
To help you out, we’ve compiled an extensive list of all the key questions you should ask when buying a new build home or flat. From how the company operates and what the neighbourhood’s like to your rights as a buyer and future plans for the development.
So, to give you a little peace of mind that you’re making the right purchase, here are — questions to ask when buying a new build house in the UK. Enjoy!
This might seem obvious when you’re buying a brand spanking new house, but buying a new build home off-plan means you won’t be 100% sure exactly what you’re getting until it’s fully complete – and this might be after committing to the purchase.
To make sure you’re happy with what the end result will be, you should ask for a list of everything the property includes, such as:
Make sure you find out exactly what you get and put in writing before you commit to an off-plan new build home.
It’s also important to ask questions about any new build hidden costs that might be involved so you don’t end up spending much more than you budgeted for.
When looking at new build developments, even if they’re by well-established building companies, you should always ask for examples of their completed work.
If one of the company’s complete developments is nearby, it’s definitely worth going to see it. And, if you happen to come across any homeowners while you’re there, ask politely about their experiences with the builder.
You’ll want to be certain that your new build developers have a good reputation before you commit to purchasing an off-plan new build home.
Another question to ask when buying a new build house or flat is whether it’s freehold or leasehold.
If you’re purchasing a new build flat or apartment, it will very likely be a leasehold property. This means that you have the lease from the freeholder to use the property for a certain length of time (usually between 90 and 999 years).
Leasehold flats usually come with rules and regulations determining what you can and can’t do with the property, such as making alterations or keeping pets.
If the new build you’re buying is a leasehold, it’s also likely that you’ll have maintenance and ground rent to pay. You should check whether these additional costs will rise every few years, and go through the terms of the lease to make sure you’re happy with everything before committing.
Most new build houses are sold as freehold, but some are still leasehold. New build houses sold as leasehold have caused some controversy in recent years, due to builders charging huge, rising fees for ground rent.
The government has claimed that they will ban leasehold new build houses being sold in the future. But, in the meantime, you should establish the terms behind the property you’re buying, for both flats and houses.
When viewing houses, it’s important to determine whether a new build is best for you. To do this, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons of buying a new build vs old house.
Many buyers assume that there is no room for negotiation when it comes to new build properties. But, this is far from true.
Just because it’s new, doesn’t mean you have to pay the asking price. As with any traditional property, you can negotiate the purchase price. The only difference is, you’ll be negotiating with the developer rather than the seller.
Ask the new build developer how sales are going to get an idea of how much interest they’re getting. If things sound like they’re moving slowly, try to determine why.
If you’re still keen to buy the property, try making a reasonable offer, or ask for some additional extras if paying the asking price. Often, some new build developers will offer incentives to encourage you to purchase a property, such as paying stamp duty or upgrading fixtures and fittings.
Another important question to ask when buying a new build house is “what’s included in the warranty?”.
National House Building Council (NHBC) warranties are applied to more than 80% of new build homes in the UK and provide buyers with a safety net.
Most new home warranties apply to the first 10 years after the property is purchased. However, you should note that NHBC and other warranties are essentially insurance policies. This means you have to actually make a claim and payout is not always guaranteed.
Before you purchase a new build property, find out what the warranty on it includes and ensure the ‘snagging list’ can be rectified directly with the developer.
You should also ensure that warranties and guarantees for accompanying white goods are handed over to you.
If you’re buying a new build off-plan, there’s always a chance that it won’t be complete as quickly as you’d hoped.
No one can be 100% sure when the building of a property will be finished. So, if the building isn’t complete by the agreed date, it could hold up the rest of the house-buying process, including your mortgage offer and completion. If you’re in a property chain, this will hold up the process for everyone.
With that in mind, it’s important that you ask the home builder for a long-stop completion date to be inserted into your contract of sale. This way, if your property is not ready by the agreed date, you will be entitled to compensation.
Restrictive covenants are often used by home builders on large developments to prevent homeowners from changing the appearance of their property, so that everything remains ‘uniform’.
So, if you have big plans for your new build home, such as an extension or installing CCTV, a restrictive covenant might mean it’s not allowed.
These types of covenant usually stay with the property, too, so can have an impact on your ability to sell the home further down the line.
Thus, you should ask about any restrictive covenants that are in place on the new build property before committing to purchase it.
Think about it… you wake up each morning in your new build home looking at views of green space and trees. Until, that is, your house builder decides to extend the development. Now, your stunning view is somebody else’s house.
That’s why it’s essential that you ask the developer about any plans to build more homes.
Not only could this spoil your scenic view and increase traffic, it could cause your new build house to lose value when you come to sell it.
You wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that the answer is ‘yes, of course’. But, sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Many home builders and developers try their best to pressure buyers into using their recommended conveyancer when buying a new build property.
However, this is very often not the best option. Your conveyancer or solicitor should be acting in your best interest when buying a new build, not the developers.
No matter what type of property you’re purchasing, you’ll want to know who your neighbours are going to be, right?
Sometimes, this is especially the case when buying a new build as lots of new people will be moving in around the same time.
So, make sure you ask the builder how many units have been sold and who has purchased them.
Are your neighbours going to be families, first time buyers or investors looking to rent the homes out?
So, if you’re planning on purchasing a new build property, be sure to ask all the important questions. If you’re unsure about something, just ask!
Buying a house is a huge commitment, and you don’t want to do it if you’re not 100% certain of your choice. That being said, when viewing properties, it’s a good idea to keep in mind all the questions to ask when buying a new build house.
Knowing what questions you need to ask when buying a new build could save you a lot of money and hassle further down the line.
Find out more first time buyers guides here.
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