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How to Buy a Newly Refurbished Property

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There are many advantages to buying a newly refurbished property from a developer. But, of course, there are disadvantages as well.

When you buy a newly refurbished property from a developer, it’s important to understand there are a different set of rules in play. This isn’t simply buying a second-hand property.

Until you get the keys and move in, treat this as a business transaction.

If you approach this transaction with your eyes open, you won’t go far wrong.

You are the one who is going to be parting with a lot of cash, so it’s advised that you query anything that seems unusual.

But, if you like what you see, there is no reason why you shouldn’t proceed (with caution).

What to do before buying

Before you start the process of buying, there are a few initial points that require your consideration.

  • Research the developer. Find out as much information about them as you can.
    • What’s their experience?
    • How many projects do they typically complete in a year?
    • What do their peers say about them? Are there any reviews you can find?
    • Are they registered with the Federation of Master Builders?
  • Everything is up for negotiation
    • Confirm with the developer how the building will be finished, considering the price they are asking for it.
    • If you make an offer ‘subject to contract and survey’ it means that the house price is negotiable. During the negotiation phase, it is perfectly acceptable to put in requests.
    • When buying a refurbished property from a developer, you are well within your rights to demand high quality finishes to your exact specifications.
    • When you purchase a refurbished property from a developer, your offer should include the level of finish that you expect, and your specifications. If the developer currently has plans to finish the property differently, include the changes that you want in the offer.
    • Have a snagging list and agree it prior to exchanging contracts. Make sure that you have a guarantee in place that the developer will return within a set number of months, to put right anything that may have gone awry during your settling in phase.
    • Your solicitor will advise suitable wording for a financial retention to be included in your legal contract. All of the above will determine what you include in your offer to the developer. Remember that all agreements must be made in writing by everyone involved in the development.
    • Ensure you pay close attention to the details, because ultimately that is what you are spending this money on. You will have a property that is bespoke to your taste, you’re not just moving into someone’s old home.
    • Always let your solicitor know that the property you are buying is being refurbished.

Be savvy when buying a refurbished property

It’s important to be savvy when buying a refurbished property, here’s how.

  1. Remember it’s your money
    • Developers know all the tricks of the trade, so you have to be alert to make sure they don’t get the better of you.
    • Once you have agreed a deal with the developer, don’t accept changes to the goalposts that they may try to implement after the agreement.
    • Ensure you have guarantees and certificates in place to ensure you are covered in the event of anything going wrong, once you have taken control of the property.
    • Reduce the chances of the developer misbehaving by demonstrating your commitment to the deal, and your ability to stump up the cash when the time comes to exchange contracts. For the developer this is purely business, and businesses rely on cash flow, so the quicker you can complete the deal, the quicker they can move onto the next property.
  2. Don’t rush things
    • As soon as you have reached an agreement, the developer will be keen to proceed as quickly as possible to ensure you don’t have a chance to renege on the deal.
    • Expect to be put under pressure by their agents and solicitors to move things along quickly. But remember, you are the one who is parting with a large sum of cash, so don’t do anything rash. Don’t let yourself get backed into a corner.
  3. The final touches
    • You get one final chance to ensure that everything is as you want and expect before you exchange contracts. This is the time when you want to make sure that you have all paperwork completed and all answers back to any questions that you or your solicitor may have put to the developer. Bear in mind it’s not your solicitor or your surveyor buying this property, it’s you, so it’s their job to ensure everything is done correctly.
    • But, for your peace of mind, double check everything yourself. When you finally exchange contracts, and you agree a completion date, you should refer back to your snagging list that you agreed during negotiations.
    • You can now relax, knowing that what you have purchased is going to be what you expected. Finally, before the completion date, take a last look around the property to check that everything is as it should be. Don’t leave this to the last minute though, because you may need to revisit the site several times before signing off on everything.

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Last Updated: August 12th, 2021