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Things to know when buying a new build home

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Buying a newly built home offers a number of advantages, including the idea that you will be getting a pristine property with no wear and tear from previous owners. If you can buy off-plan, before the property is finished, you can also often get a significant discount on the standard price of an equivalent property.

However, there are some important things you need to consider before buying a new build property to ensure that you do not get caught out with any unexpected issues or on-going problems that end up costing you time, money and a lot of effort to sort out.

Is the property leasehold?

Many new build homes, both flats and houses, are now sold on a leasehold basis. This means that rather than owning the building outright, you are merely paying for the right to occupy the property for a fixed period of time.

In many cases, the lease will be for 999 years, giving you long term security, but you will still be under certain legal obligations to the freeholder. This normally includes being required to pay an annual ground rent and service charges to cover upkeep of the building, cleaning of communal areas etc.

There have been a number of stories recently about developers including conditions in the leasehold agreement, such as that the ground rent will double every 10 years, which could significantly impact the long term cost of living in the property and your ability to resell the lease. It is therefore strongly recommended to have an experienced property lawyer to review the leasehold agreement before putting down a deposit.

Your consumer rights

If you buy food from a supermarket, a toaster from an electrical shop, or most other kinds of goods, you have certain consumer rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods Act. This includes the right to return the item and have it repaired or replaced if it is faulty.

There are no such protections, however, for buying a property. This means that, once you have bought a new build property and moved in, if the roof leaks you have no automatic legal right to your money back or even to have the issue fixed.

That said, in practice any new build home will normally come with a warranty of at least 10 years, meaning that if you do experience any problems, the developer should put them right.  Having a warranty in place from the developer will usually be a requirement for any lender before they will offer you a mortgage.

What does the developer’s warranty cover?

Typically the warranty will cover most issues for the first 2 years after the property is finished, expect for standard wear and tear and minor defects, such as small cracks in the plasterwork. After the first 2 years, only major defects, such as structural issues or faulty weatherproofing will tend to be covered.

Again, it is strongly recommended to get an experienced residential property solicitor to review the warranty you are offered before buying a new build property. They will be able to advise you as to whether it provides sufficient protection and what other precautionary measures you should take, such as having a building survey.

What happens if there are any problems with the property?

Before putting down your deposit, make sure to find out exactly what the procedures are for reporting any issues and what the developer’s policy is for fixing them. For example, if your roof is leaking or your heating doesn’t work, is there an agreed time limit within which the developer guarantees to fix the issue?

It is also a good idea to do some research into the developer’s track records with these kind of problems and previous customers’ experiences of dealing with them. This can give you an idea of whether a particular developer is likely to be responsive to any issues and how confident you should be about buying from them.

Get reliable conveyancing support when buying a new build home

Bird & Co Solicitors is a long-established law firm offering conveyancing services for properties across England and Wales from our 3 East Midlands offices. Our highly experienced residential property team can make the process of buying any home as easy as possible. We have the experience and expertise to ensure your interests are protected, no matter what type of property you are buying.

We are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, meaning you can be sure that we operate to the highest possible standards and can provide fast, efficient and cost-effective conveyancing for your first home.

To find out more about our conveyancing for new build property, or any other type of property transaction, call us today on 01476 591711 or use our contact page to find details of your nearest office.