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10 Questions To Ask When Buying A New Build Property

Buying a property on a new build development is hugely appealing to many buyers.

Not only do you move into a property that is brand new, with no work to do, most come with a warranty that covers any defects or issues within a certain period of time.

But new home developments do come with worries and concerns just like buying a traditional property, so making sure you know everything about what you're buying is crucial.

Like with any home search, though, remembering all the questions you should ask a developer is easier said than done.

So, here are 10 key questions to ask when buying a new build house or flat...

New build properties: What should I ask?

1. What other developments have you worked on?

When looking at any new development, even by well known, established build companies, always ask for evidence of other work they have completed.

If a complete development is within driving distance, take the time to go and see it.

If you spot any homeowners while there, ask politely for their experiences with the home builder.

You'll want to be sure they have a good reputation before you commit to an off plan home.

2. What do I get with my new build?

This might seem like an obvious answer - you're getting a brand, spanking new home to live in!

But buying off plan means your new home is likely to be just a foundation or, at best, the framework of a house - so there's very little to see.

Ask for a list of everything the property includes. What white goods are included and will the garden be landscaped?

In the case of flats, does your purchase include a parking space?

Finding out exactly what you get in writing before signing away on a sales contract is hugely important to avoid confrontation further down the line.

3. What does the new home warranty include?

National House Building Council (NHBC) warranties are applied to more than 80% of new homes built in the UK and provide buyers with great peace of mind.

Most warranties like this apply to the first 10 years after the home is purchased, but it's worth being aware that NHBC and other warranties are essentially insurance policies - meaning you have to make a claim and a payout is not always guaranteed.

Try to find out what the warranty on your new home includes and ensure that the 'snagging' list - things like doors not closing properly or sticking on the carpet - can be remedied directly with the property's developer.

Also make sure that warranties and guarantees for white goods supplied with your new build home are handed over to you.

4. Is the property freehold or leasehold?

If you're buying a new build flat or apartment, it will almost certainly be a leasehold property - meaning you have a lease from the freeholder to use the property for a certain amount of time.

This is usually between 90 and 999 years on new build properties.

Leasehold flats often come with rules and regulations from the freeholder when it comes to things like major alterations or keeping pets - often due to the fact other people reside in the building, too.

Find out what you will be paying in maintenance and ground rent, and whether it rises every few years, and go through the terms of the lease to make sure you are happy with everything before committing.

Houses sold as leasehold properties have caused something of a furore in the housing market in recent years, due to house builders charging huge, rising fees for things like ground rent and the restrictions mentioned above applying to these properties.

The government has said it will ban leasehold new build houses being sold in the future, but in the meantime, establishing the terms behind what you are buying, for both flats and houses, is vital.

5. How many other properties have been sold and who has purchased them?

If you were buying an established property, you'd want to know who your neighbours were, right?

Well, it's no different with new builds. Find out from the home builder how many units have been sold and ask who has purchased them.

Are the buyers families or have property investors snapped up most of the development, meaning many homes will be rented out?

6. Are you open to offers?

It's amazing how many buyers assume the asking price is the only price they can pay for a new build home.

Yes, it's new. But that doesn't mean that you should always pay the full price any more than you would for a traditional home.

Find out from the developer how sales are going, as we mentioned above. If things are moving slowly, try to establish why.

If you're still keen to buy, try making an offer or asking for some additional extras if paying the asking price. Some developers will pay things like Stamp Duty - which could result in a huge saving for you as a buyer.

But as with anything, if you don't ask, you don't get...

7. Will you put a long stop completion date in place?

If you're buying off plan, there's always a chance that your property might not be built as quickly as you hoped.

That can cause problems with mortgage companies, whose offers are usually only valid for a maximum of six months.

So, if your new build home is delayed, you might have to reapply for a mortgage.

And if your circumstances have changed, for instance if you have a new job, that could affect your borrowing ability or even your ability to get a mortgage at all.

With all of that in mind, speak to the home builder and ask for a long stop completion date to be inserted in your sale contract.

This means if your property is not ready by a certain date, you are entitled to compensation.

8. Are there any restrictive covenants?

Restrictive covenants are often used by home builders on large developments to prevent homeowners from changing the appearance of their property so everything remains 'uniform'.

This could mean that the extension you were thinking of for your new build further down the line won't be possible.

Or perhaps you were thinking of installing CCTV or a satellite dish to your property? A restrictive covenant could mean this is not allowed.

These covenants usually stay with the property, too, so can impact on your ability to sell when you come to.

Find out if any restrictive covenants are in place before committing to buying your new build home.

9. Are there plans to extend the development?

Picture the scene: You're gazing out across acres of glorious green space standing in what will soon be your new south-facing garden.

Then, 12 months after you move in, news filters through that your house builder is extending the development you live on and your stunning view will soon be of someone else's house.

Make sure you ask your developer if there are plans to build more homes in further phases.

Not only could this affect your property in terms of over-looking or light, the additional cars could soak up off-street parking or cause jams at peak times.

10. Can I use my own conveyancer?

You might assume the obvious answer to this is 'yes, of course'.

But some home builders and developers try to pressure buyers into using their recommended solicitor or conveyancer when buying a new build home.

As your solicitor should be acting in your best interests when purchasing any kind of property, be wary of developers who pressure buyers into using their own recommended legal firms.

Developers think solely from a commercial standpoint and like to exchange contracts quickly, hence often having their own panel of solicitors.

But while a quick exchange is always nice for both the seller and buyer, when it comes to buying a new build home, and the money involved, you should always use your own solicitor who will put your interests first.

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