With their competitive, fixed pricing, scenic locations, the prospect of the house being “new” and the seemingly endless choice available, it is no wonder than New Builds are as popular as ever. In the pandemic laden year of 2020-21, almost 15,000 New builds were sold in Scotland alone, with over 25,000 the year before. Personally, in November 2021, I took the step from conveyancing solicitor to new build purchaser and bought a New Build.
Undoubtably, they have many qualities and the majority of transactions go smoothly. However, there a few things which make purchasing a new build different from buying an established property and it’s helpful to be aware of some of the nuances you might experience. Here are my top 5 top tips on how to make sure your experience of buying is as stress free as possible.
Tip 1 – Sales teams and Legal teams are different.
The Sales teams for developments are often some of the best people to help you with your move. They are full of knowledge, helpful and can help you find the right home at the right location. However, they are not the legal team. As such, occasionally you might hear something from the sales team before it has actually filtered through all of the solicitors. We will of course keep you informed of any updates that we receive from the other solicitors, but if you hear something from the sales team before you’ve heard from us, it’s best to let us know so that we can confirm the position.
Tip 2 – date of entry is not a guarantee
Like with many things in life, nothing is guaranteed. This is certainly the case with the dates of entry for new build properties. Remember, at the stage you reserve, the builders often will not even have started building the property yet and as such, it can be very difficult for a builder to predict exactly when a property will be ready. As such, most builders will give you a “window” where they expect to be able to complete, usually of around a month or two. The builders, the sales team and the legal teams will keep you informed of any updates as to the predicted date, but the actual date will not be fixed until the build is complete and the property has passed its final inspections. At that point, the builders will notify us and you, and there is usually a period of two weeks to allow time to organise yourself for the move. Due to the nature of the building trade, you will understand that the predicted dates will often have to change through matters out with the builders’ control and even things like the weather can make a difference. There are so many moving parts, with so many different parties, that I would recommend you bear in mind that there is always the possibility of the date changing until you are given your official two weeks’ notice from your solicitor.
Tip 3 – be prepared sell and buy on different days
This tip is directed at those who are selling their property before buying a new build. You will have to bear in mind that due to the changing nature of the entry date on new build properties, it can occasionally be difficult to make sure that your sale and purchase dates coincide. This is more likely to be the case if the new build is not far along in the build process. Sorting this out early can help alleviate any extra and unnecessary stress during your sale process. If you do want to sell and buy on the same day, talk to the builder and your solicitor early on, to make sure that can be accommodated. You will often find that the buyer of your property is the main factor in this. When marketing your own property, you should ask your estate agent to ‘target’ buyers who are flexible and understanding that the entry date may need to change depending on the progress of the new build.
Tip 4 – the builders have standard terms
When buying an older property, generally the terms of the Missives (the legal contract) are based on a set of standard terms which both parties will vary and negotiate between one another. However, when buying from a builder, most builders will provide you with their own standard contract with the terms that they set out at the beginning. We will always review and report to you on the general terms and highlight anything that we think you should be aware of, including details of any deposit due to the builder and any criteria that the builder requires you to meet. The specific terms will vary between each builder, but in general tend to contain similar provisions and in order to ensure fairness across all of the sales, builders understandably do not allow substantial changes being made to the contract. Luckily, we usually don’t need to make many changes!
Tip 5 – it is not always easy starting new!
This point is more practical, and comes from a personal, rather than professional, experience. New Build properties by their very nature, are new and as such, certain things may not always be in place right away. It can occasionally take a while to appear on post code finders and utility companies/Local Authorities may not have a note of your new address. It is highly recommended that you start looking in advance of moving, and try and arrange for as much as possible to be done or organised in advance of moving. Contact the assessors office to get the property valued for Council Tax purposes. Ask the Council to deliver wheelie bins for the entry date. For things that you cannot do in advance, it is best to start the ball rolling get in touch with them as soon as possible, to avoid getting bills which have accumulated.
New Builds are generally good homes, often situated in desirable areas and the process can be, and often is, smoother than a “traditional” transaction as there is no onward chain. However, as you will see from the above there are aspects of buying them that are different from second hand homes and you may find out above tips helpful.
If you have any questions, please contact a member of the Blackadders Residential Conveyancing Team working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and across Scotland.