The Time is Ripe for ‘New Builds’

Finding the ideal new home is not easy in the current climate. Many existing property owners are still reluctant to put their property on the market when they may have to accept a lower offer to secure a sale and be faced with the uncertainty of finding a new property themselves. There are however, a healthy number of new build properties available lying vacant, in the early stages of construction, or merely in the planning stage, with developers only too keen to negotiate a sale.

The thrill of being the first owner of a home with the opportunity to create a garden from a blank canvas and establish a new community within an estate development is an exciting attraction for many would be property owners. Whilst the process of buying a new build is the same as buying an established property there are a number of additional factors to consider.

In order for the property to be acceptable to a lender it must have the benefit of a new home warranty of which the NHBC Buildmark, the Zurich 10, the Premier Guarantee and the LABC Hallmark are the most common. For small developments or conversion properties the developer may offer instead a Professional Consultants Certificate… But beware, the terms and extent of this Certificate should be thoroughly checked before any expense is incurred on mortgage product fees or legal fees as lack of an adequate Certificate will mean that the property is unmortgagable for at least the first six years.

When buying a property in the course of construction or ‘off plan’, it is important to inspect and agree the specification for the property with the developer, as this will prevent any misunderstanding or dispute during the construction or on completion.

The local authority will grant planning permission to the developer for the building of the properties. Often there are numerous conditions and obligations imposed by the authority and a careful check will need to be made of those conditions to ascertain whether they will limit or prevent any future plans for the extension, alteration or use of the property. These may also impose a liability on property owners to contribute to the maintenance of communal facilities.

The legal documentation for the property should contain all necessary rights of access and services. All arrangements should be in place for the respective local authority to take over responsibility for the roads and a water company for the drains when an estate is finished. This will ensure that the property owners are not burdened with the future maintenance of roads and drains.

By consulting an experienced property lawyer at an early stage in your property purchase issues such as those highlighted above can be checked, negotiated and resolved, and the result? A good deal on a brand new home; somewhere to make your mark and start on those plans for the garden!

Ridings Magazine Article for September 2009

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