Buying a new build property? What to check beforehand

New build homes, with their up-to-date amenities, offer peace of mind for the property buyer. However, there are still many factors to check before completing your purchase.

Here are some of the issues to look out for.

Compare the house you want to buy with the show home

Show homes are professionally packaged to show off the developer’s houses to their best advantage. Often furnished to a minimum to give a sense of space, you should check dimensions carefully to see they meet your expectations and fit your lifestyle.

Where is the house you are buying situated within the development?

Questions to consider include:

  • Does it back onto a busy road?
  • Are there large trees that may affect the lighting levels?
  • How close is it to neighbouring properties?

Find out how large the development will be

If you are an early purchaser on the development, be aware that ongoing house-building will generate a good deal of disruption around your new home. Road surfaces will be dirty and there will be a lot of background noise. Check how long before all building is complete and decide whether you can live with the interruption. It might affect the plot you choose.

Are the builder’s timescales realistic?

Building projects are often beset by delays and a developer’s assertion that your new home will be ready to move into in 8 weeks may not be realistic. Question this carefully as it may not only affect you but also the purchaser of your existing property. It is better to be realistically prepared for a move in the spring, rather than unrealistically optimistic of being settled in by Christmas.

Are there any extras included?

Many developers offer extra incentives to help sell properties on a site quickly. Doing so means they can move onto their next project.

Offers may include:

  • Part-exchanging your existing property
  • Paying legal fees
  • Cash bonuses for early completion
  • Paying the stamp duty
  • Offering white goods or flooring

It is worth asking if they are prepared to offer these, even if they are not advertised.

Negotiate the asking price

Most buyers tend to assume that there is no flexibility on the price of a new build home. Be prepared to negotiate hard on the price, just as you would if buying a previously occupied home. If you don’t ask, you won’t get, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Have your finances in place

It helps to have a mortgage in principle offer in place before you start house-hunting. Not only does it show the seriousness of your intent but also gives leverage to any negotiations.

Be aware though that mortgage inn principle offers may only last for 90 days, so if your search takes longer and your circumstances change in the intervening period, the offer may not be still valid.

Avoid doing things that might affect your financial situation, such as changing jobs. It is also prudent to keep your savings intact. Lenders will need to reassess your application and may not offer as much if you have spent some of your deposit or taken out more credit.

What warranties are there?

80% of new build homes are covered by the NHBC’s Buildmark warranty, which lasts for 10 years, but other warranties are available. However, not all builders sign up to a warranty scheme, so you should check carefully before you commit. If you decide to sell your home within a few years, a lack of warranty may adversely affect its value.

Remember to check for snags

Once you’ve moved in you may find a number of small jobs awaiting completion or checking by the builder. These are known as snags. Particularly check electrics and plumbing and that doors and windows open, close and lock properly. Write a ‘snagging list’ and give this to the builder. Keep in close contact to ensure the snags are fixed to your satisfaction, otherwise they may be left indefinitely.