Buying any new build property is both different and more complex than buying existing property. To ensure your purchase is smooth and stress-free, make sure you get a conveyancing solicitor with plenty of experience in buying and selling new build property. This is particularly important if you are buying a property off-plan [which refers to the situation where the property hasn’t been built yet and all you can see in advance are the plans].
Our experienced property team handle new build conveyancing both locally in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset and throughout England and Wales – from our offices in Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Andover and Amesbury.
For a no strings attached conveyancing quote, call our team now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544.
How does purchasing a new build differ from other conveyancing?
The sale itself may be a sale of part of the plot. This occurs when the developer owns the whole area of land and is selling off individual plots with properties.
In order to reduce the risk of losing your new build property, make sure that you instruct conveyancing solicitors as soon as you decide to reserve a new build. You should be thinking about obtaining a mortgage offer in time for exchange of contracts. You must therefore let your lender know of the expected completion date (which will always be an estimate) and make it clear that this could be subject to change.
When it comes to completion, the developer will notify you of when the property should be finished. They usually allow you a 10 working day gap prior to completion to inspect the property and produce a ‘snagging list’. This list will highlight to the builders any practical or aesthetic problems you have with the property. Your lender may also require a valuation of the property. You should be aware that even at this point a developer will rarely tie themselves down to a fixed completion date.
Buying a new build flat? Click here to find out more about buying a leasehold flat
What does a conveyancing solicitor do in the purchase of a new build?
Your conveyancing solicitor should be familiar with the tight timescales of a new build purchase. Therefore they need to have a good understanding of what pre-exchange issues and searches must be done. The developer will want a deposit for the property from you at the time of exchange; it is therefore vital that your solicitor has identified any potential issues prior to this point.
Your solicitor should be able to offer you advice on the potential risks of buying a new build off plan. They should also inform you of what pre-contractual obligations are normally agreed at exchange to ensure that you get what you bargained for when your purchase goes through.
Mortgage applications for new builds are subject to special procedures.
Our conveyancing team have a wealth of experience when it comes to dealing with new build transactions. We are frequently asked by developer clients to act as preferred legal advisors for new build buyers. Our experiences reach to leasehold developments as well as freehold purchase, this includes; retirement complexes, shared ownership developments and sheltered housing.
We can help your in your new build purchase by:
- Providing you with copies of all appropriate documentation related to the transaction;
- Dealing with any conditions that your lender may have as pre-requisites to the purchase (such as reinspection or guarantees);
- Drafting full reports on the contract of sale and any relevant documentation;
- Offering specialist advice on obtaining new building warranties; and
- Keeping in touch regularly with the developer’s on-site managers and legal representation to ensure that you are on top of the process of your new build.
Confused by legal jargon? Click here to find those awkward Conveyancing Terms Explained
What is needed prior to the exchange of contracts?
Your conveyancing solicitor will draft a contract of sale for you. This contract may have some conditions contained within it, which should ensure that you receive the agreed standard of property upon completion.
One example of other important issues which can be agreed upon within the contract, is rights such as easements attaching to the property. Your solicitor must ensure that these rights include; a right of way over estate roads, a right to drainage, sewerage and water and a right to use all pipes and cables for utility services.
Click here to find out more about the conveyancing process timeline
What additional documentation or information is required?
In addition to the Energy Performance Certificate and other normal conveyancing documentation, your solicitor will also need to obtain the following:
- Planning permission – your solicitor will double check that planning has been granted for your particular property and that any conditions of the grant are being kept to by the developer.
- Estate roads – you will need appropriate access to the property and do not want to be paying towards any maintenance of any access road. Your solicitor will need to check that an s.38 (Highways Act 1980) agreement has been entered into between the developer and the local authority. This agreement confirms that the estate roads are the responsibility of the developer until they become publicly maintained (adopted) by the council. Default of this agreement should be insured against by the developer.
- Building regulations consents – your solicitor will need to check that appropriate building regulations were obtained by the developer. Building regulations provide a set of standards for the construction industry to stick to regarding the use of certain materials and the methods employed to ensure that the construction of new properties is done at a good standard. The local authority has an unlimited retrospective time period to enforce building regulations and there can be hefty fines involved if the consents were not obtained.
- Structural guarantee – as a precaution, a structural guarantee should be obtained from the developer and/or building contractors. This ensures that in the event of a structural fault (becoming clear after you buy the property) you are able to get compensation. A guarantee of this type may be requested by your mortgage company as a condition to the loan. A structural defect does not just cover the external mistakes , but also internal problems such as bad plasterwork and decoration.
- New building insurance – such as the NHBC Buildmark scheme. This scheme provide you with a warranty and insurance protection for your property for up to 10 years. In the initial 2 years after completion NHBC provides default action to any problems incurred that are not fixed by the developer. After the 2 years have passed you can seek direct rectification of any structural defaults from NHBC for the following 8 years. It’s worth noting that these insurance policies are limited to problems caused by the building work carried out by your developer. These policies are not the same as the buildings insurance that cover disasters such as flood, fire or subsidence.
- Easements –this is the legal term for rights of way over land. The purchase contract should provide for all the necessary easements (rights belonging to the property) including; a right of way over the estate roads until adopted by the local council, a right to drainage, sewerage and water and a right to use all pipes and cables for utility services.
Do I need a survey?
A full structural or building survey is not normally necessary when buying new build property. If there are any problems, you should be covered by the new building insurance policy.
But it’s definitely worth considering a snagging survey. These special type of surveys are unique to new build property – they should identify any relatively minor problems which need fixing before you move in. The kind of issue that your professional snagging survey should pick up include minor issues like an ill fitting door and on rare occasions, they can even it up on something more serious.
For new build advice you can trust, contact our conveyancing lawyers today. Call FREEPHONE 0800 1404544.