Should you buy new build homes?
Whether you're on home number 5, want your first home, want to create a family, downsize or want a more fuel-efficient home, new builds can be the perfect avenue to consider.
However, there are certain pitfalls to having a new build home compared to a second-hand home.
Buying a new build home is an entirely different experience from buying a more traditional one. Luckily, there are various benefits and schemes to help you buy new build homes, especially if you are a first-time buyer.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know before buying a new build home, how you search and buy one and what you should do before moving in.
What are the benefits of buying a new build?
New builds are often built in clusters or new-build estates. Most often than most, these estates can be found in the suburbs of a city or large town, and the people who move into them can be like-minded looking to start families.
Overall, new builds tend to be more spacious than existing buildings. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average size of a new build is around 100m2, whereas second-hand homes tend to be around 93m2. New builds tend to be larger in the South, with London having the most extensive square footage.
If you want to find the perfect home, a reputable property developer will allow you to create and design the property to your desired specifications before moving in. However, you should ensure that any work done is appropriately fitted.
Usually, parks in the centre of the developments allow for a safe space for children or dogs to run free.
There are numerous other benefits of buying a new build property, especially if you're bored of period properties with many underlying problems:
The National House Building Council (NHBC) will cover any structural defects in the new build property. In the first two years of living in the property, the builder will cover the cost of putting problems right; in the later eight years, the NHBC will cover it.
Additional warranties are available, which allow for the covering of any white goods - fridges and washing machines provided by the developer.
No Seller Chain
Buying from a new build developer means you don't have to worry about seller chains falling apart, which can be a massive relief for most home buyers.
As there are no previous homeowners, you can choose interior design choices before you move in, like Kitchen cabinets and bathroom tiles.
The chance of an existing building transaction falling through is at 20%, but this is minimised with new builds — as property developers will look at the purchase as a business transaction and are less likely to pull out.
New build developments also work on a first-come, first-served basis meaning the earlier you register your interest in a property, the more likely you are to receive the property you are after.
Developers have to follow the House Builders Code of Conduct, which sets out rules which must be met. You run no risk of a house sale derailing due to a failed survey; if the property does not comply with what was agreed, the developer is legally obliged to amend any issues.
Most new build properties are built with energy performance in mind, from insulation to high-efficiency central heating. You should expect to pay less for your heating bills.
How long does it take to buy a new build?
If you're looking to buy a new build property, the process from offer to exchange will typically take around seven weeks, depending on the speed of your conveyancer. But, new build properties can either be purchased when they have already been built or as off-plan new build developments — which can drastically change the purchase timescale.
What does buying off plan mean?
Buying a new build home off plan means purchasing a home that has yet to be built. This means you can customise the home to meet your needs which is especially important if you're looking to grow a family or want to future-proof your home.
You may also double-check what's already included, like kitchen fittings and carpeting, to ensure you know what you're moving into. You should check that your mortgage lender accepts off-plan properties, as some don't.
Some property jargon used when buying an off-plan new build:
Short Stop Dates: When a developer expects to be finished building.
Long Stop Dates: The date at which a developer must legally be done.
Set the expectation of moving in closer to the long stop date than the short stop date, as most developments take much longer than initially planned.
How do I find a reputable new home development?
It is crucial to research any estate agent or new home developer before you make any decisions, especially on a significant investment like buying a property. It is wise to look for reviews online from previous buyers, which can be found on either Google reviews or TrustPilot.
It would help if you also considered visiting the development in person to understand better the quality of construction, neighbourhood and team behind the development. Additionally, with consent, you could ask existing homeowners on the development for their thoughts on the area and their dealings with the developer.
Are new build homes better in London?
Although London's new builds can be more significant, they are sometimes better because they are located in London. Regarding value for money and potential capital growth, newly built homes can be more attractive than existing properties in London.
But, it will ultimately depend on the developer, the property's location, the quality of the build, warranties offered, and any local infrastructure, transport links and amenities.
Most property in London, new or old, can be seen as overpriced compared to similar areas in the North of England. Certain areas of London have higher prices for new builds than the rest of the country due to a higher demand for housing in the capital.
7 Steps to buying a new-build home
As with most ways to buy a home across the UK, there are several steps you can take to ensure the process remains as smooth as possible. If you are looking for a new home near you, consider driving around the local area and see if there are any developments in your direct vicinity.
1. Check your finances
Before you make an offer on a new build home, ensure that you can take the financial risk and can afford to buy a new property. By looking at your current financial situation, from your savings to any debt you may have, to your credit score, you should be able to determine whether buying a house makes economic sense.
Buying a home is usually a massive investment but can be highly rewarding. In purchasing your new build, you will still be liable for the costs of buying, including solicitor fees, moving expenses and any potential stamp duty.
Something that should also be considered is the ongoing costs of running a household post purchase, like household utilities, gas, electricity and adding personal touches.
2. Finding your dream new build home
Most new homes for sale can be found on traditional property portals like Rightmove or Zoopla, but in most cases, they will also have their websites or social channels to market themselves away from the regular market.
You can buy off plan when you hunt for a new build home.
Can I buy a new build on my own?
You can buy a new build independently, as with most other property types. You should understand your financial situation and seek guidance from a financial advisor.
Going through a house purchasing process can be pretty daunting, but that doesn't mean you're alone — there are support networks available to help you buy, like solicitors, lawyers and advisors.
Are all new builds freehold?
Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is that new build apartments are leaseholds and houses are freeholds, but you should always ask the developer before making any choices.
If you are looking to buy a leasehold, you will have to pay ground rent to the freeholder and will have limitations on what changes you can make to the building.
3. Reserving your dream new build
Once you have found your dream new build home and secured your mortgage, it's time to get the ball rolling and reserve the property, which lasts around 28 days. The reservation period will give you enough time to exchange contracts and solidify the process.
Usually, you will pay a reservation fee, ranging from £500 to £1000 — which will be deducted from the total price if you haven't pulled out. If you decide to pull out during the sale, you will lose the reservation fee.
At this stage, you can still negotiate the price of your home — be sure that you try and wiggle the price down if you think that's fair. If the developer doesn't take you up, you can counter the offer at a higher price.
Is buying a new build a good investment?
Buying a new build property can be a risky investment and make excellent returns — it ultimately depends on your situation. You should make sure you do your research into the local area, the developer of the new build, the potential resale value and the interest rates available.
4. Appoint A Conveyancer
A conveyancer is just a solicitor who will help you with the legal process of buying or selling any home. They will do much of the necessary legwork on your behalf to ensure the entire transaction is as smooth as possible.
5. Attaining Your Mortgage
Some mortgage lenders will only lend to new build properties because of the uncertainty of the developments.
But, there are many schemes available that will support you through the process:
The Help To Buy Equity Loan: Aimed exclusively at people looking to buy new builds. The government will help people get onto the property ladder by lending between 15% and 40% of the purchase price, depending on your location, after you put down a 5% deposit.
London Help To Buy Scheme: Similar to the help to buy equity loan, but allows people in London struggling to get onto the property ladder to receive a helping hand.
Shared Ownership Schemes: Some new build developments offer shared ownership schemes which is a great first way to afford a property if you can't pay it outright. You purchase just a portion of the home and pay rent on the remaining share.
Can you get a mortgage on a new build?
Yes, you can get a mortgage on a new build; you should be prepared that it may be slightly more complicated than buying a property.
You will need the funds to cover the purchase price and closing costs, be required to have a larger down payment and provide proof of income. You will also need a good credit score and a steady job to be approved for a mortgage on a new build property.
6. Paying your deposit
When paying your deposit, you should ensure your finances are well in check. Once you exchange, you may be liable to lose the deposit if you decide to pull out — even for a valid reason.
How much deposit do you need for a new build?
With a new build property, depending on the developer, you could be looking to pay a deposit of anywhere from 10% to 30%, with an agreement to pay the remainder upon completion.
The developer of the properties will also want reassurance from your mortgage lender that the mortgage is guaranteed.
7. Exchanging & completion
When you exchange contracts, the process becomes legally binding, and you must pay your deposit on the day of exchange. Your conveyancer will handle much of this process for you, but you should ensure that they have made sure the developer has followed all the necessary regulations.
New build warranties like the Premier Guarantee or NHBC will protect your deposit after the exchange if anything goes wrong with the building development.
What to check for before moving into a new build property
Before you move into your new home, you should complete a snagging survey to see if the developer needs any last-minute amendments. This is often like fixing plaster boards, light fixtures or skirting boards. The survey will cost around £300 to £600 but will be much cheaper than later down the line.
As mentioned above, most new homes come with a 10-year NHBC warranty covering any significant structural defects — but most developers will offer a shorter warranty for two years as going through the NHBC can be lengthy.
Sometimes new build developers will have well-experienced marketing and sales teams supporting them, who will push for higher prices. You should ensure that you are getting bang for your buck when purchasing a new build home.
When dealing with property developers, you should have an exact idea of the short and long stop dates and have them agreed with the developers and your solicitors. They may be penalised if the developer doesn't meet their agreed long stop dates.
Should you buy new build homes?
Ultimately, whether you should buy a new build home will depend on your circumstances, and financial capability. New build homes can be significantly more expensive than the a traditional property of the same size.
But, with the option of obtaining a First Time Buyer Deposit Scheme, or trading part of your existing properties equity with the new build developer while you Buy-Off Plan, new build homes can be a great way to get a brand new property, with a larger square footage than the average home.
If you do decide to get yourself a new build property, you should ensure that you remember to snag any issues that arise in the final phase of the property development.
How do I sell my current home for a new build?
Selling your current property and buying a new build can be a great way to upgrade and future-proof your living situation.
The first step is to determine what your home is worth, which you can do by researching similar properties in your area and getting a house valuation done by an estate agent.
Alternatively, press "get offer" below, and we'll contact you with a no-obligation cash offer.
Once you know how much your property will sell for, you can either put your property on the open market or auction house or sell to a cash buyer – like us!
We are a leading UK cash buyer who can buy your home quickly for cash in as little as seven days. However, we can complete it in a timescale that suits your situation and allow you time to move into your new build by its long stop date.
One of our property experts will handle the entire house-buying process, so you won't have to lift a finger – we'll even cover all your solicitor and survey fees. We have an excellent track record with thousands of exceptional ratings on TrustPilot for our customers and overall service.