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Guide to new homes and buying off-plan

Guide to new homes and buying off-plan

Buying The Guild 14th August 2017

Are you looking for a home, but are not convinced about purchasing an older property? Buying a new build or off-plan property may be the right choice for you. New build homes, or properties that have been built recently, have been gaining popularity over the past few years for the ease of lifestyle they provide. 

Off-plan homes, or properties that you purchase from an architect’s plan and are then built, have also seen an increase in popularity because of the ease in making the property your own. Our agents break down the considerations that should be taken into account when purchasing a new build or off-plan property. Read on for the best tips to find your dream home.


Our agents comment on the some of the best aspects of buying a new build or off-plan property, citing things from choosing your own fixtures to knowing the property has been built to the most modern standards. 

1. It’s easy to start living your life

“We live busy lives these days and don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to spend weekends redecorating or refurbishing a second-hand home. New builds are like new cars, you decide on the specification, what colour you want, the engine, optional extras, then wait for the delivery day. You can even have a test drive equivalent by visiting the show home.” Simon Powley, Rickman Properties

2. You can add your own personal touches

“When buying off-plan, purchasers are usually offered a choice of finishes included within the price as well as a range of chargeable upgrades. This essentially enables them to personalise and customise the property to their own specific tastes and requirements.” Steve Thompson, Thomas Morris

3. You’ll pay a lower fee 

“You can very often pay slightly less for a property if you are buying off-plan, sometimes developers will increase the price once the home is completed, but offer a discount for an off-plan home which gives them guaranteed revenue.” - Marc Blackmore, Simmons & Sons

4.  10-year guarantee 

“One of the big attractions of buying a new-build home is the peace of mind that comes with the warranty associated with the purchase. Most new-build homes have a 10-year warranty for building properties." Gina Burbidge, Royston-Lund

5. You can secure the price before the home is built

“One of the greatest advantages to buying off-plan is knowing that the price can be set up to two years in advance of completion, giving the possibility of capital increase.” - Margaret Towey, Lumley Estates Ltd.


With all the advantages of new build homes, there are certainly things you should be aware of before you sign on the dotted line. 

1. Homes can be hard to visualise

“Garden and home sizes on plans can be difficult to judge, and buyers may be disappointed if they are smaller than anticipated or the sun isn’t quite in the position hoped for.” - Andy Goundry, Goundry’s

2. The timescale is uncertain

“In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage with buying off-plan is getting the timing right. If you are in a chain you have to rely on either your purchaser being patient and prepared to wait for the house to be finished, or you need to go into temporary accommodation. Bear in in mind most larger housebuilders will not give you a fixed completion date, so you will be working to 10 working days’ notice or less.” - Marc Blackmore, Simmons & Sons

3. There could be extra fees 

“Be careful before you sign on the dotted line. Some new-build and off-plan companies don’t include the price of flooring, which could affect your mortgage when the home requires more than £5,000 of additions.” - Margaret Towey, Lumley Estates Ltd

4. Your new home might not look like the show home

“Be sure you study the floorplan, and check that the measurements and layout work for you. Always check the show home, and ensure you are happy with the quality of the finish. Remember the show home may not necessarily be the same size, style and layout as the plot you are considering.” – Vicki Field, Cooke & Co

5. You’ll have to exchange quickly, but wait for your home

“One of the main pitfalls of buying a new build property is that you’re required to exchange contracts very quickly and part with your deposit, but still wait for the property to be completed.” - Jonathan Keegan, Bryan and Keegan

Top Tips:

Convinced that a new build or off-plan home is right for you? Here Guild members guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible. These tips will help you navigate this process with ease. 

1. Sums up front 

“Generally, you should be wary of paying sums up-front, it is normal for developers to request a reservation fee (typically £1,000) and you will be asked for a 10% deposit on exchange. If you are asked for any further payments before completion, check the situation very carefully with your solicitor to make sure you are protected. Do not allow legal completion and make full payment until you have inspected the house yourself and are sure it is finished to the standard and specification agreed.” - Martin Moore, Morris Marshall & Poole, Powys

2. Ask about future building plans 

“Be especially aware of hammer heads and dead-end roads, you might think the plot has a nice view, but it’s almost certain that the nice view will turn into another development or become a shopping complex.” - Jayne and Nick Tart, Nick Tart. 

3. Research your builders and developers

“If you’re thinking of buying off-plan, do your research on the development, builders, and the surrounding areas. Make sure the builder is reputable and visit other completed sites if possible.  Look into whether there are any other potential developments or building works in the surrounding area.” – Gina Burbidge, Royston Lund

4. Ask questions about the property and negotiate

“It’s always worth asking the questions about finishes, as it is a really good way to negotiate the home you want. Most developers are always happy to talk about a deal.” – Will Smith, Complete Property

5. Make sure you sort out your mortgage before looking at new build or off-plan property

“Uncertain timescales can create problems with mortgages, so this should be looked at very carefully with an expert advisor.  Though there are exceptions, mortgage offers generally have a lifetime of between three and six months, and must be in place before contracts can be exchanged. If the time between the exchange of contracts and eventual completion of the build and the purchase is longer than the lifetime of the mortgage offer, then a buyer could find themselves without the funds to complete the purchase and effectively in breach of contract.” – Steve Thompson, Thomas Morris

Get in touch with a Guild Member to find out more about new build and off-plan homes in your area today. 

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