In 2021, around one in every 10 home purchases were new-build properties, with a third of those bought off-plan. Indeed, buying property off-plan is becoming increasingly popular with buyers, but what’s driving the craze? Here, we’ve got everything you need to know about buying a home off-plan, from the benefits to getting a mortgage and more.
What does off-plan property mean?
Buying off-plan means purchasing a home before the developer finishes building the property. In some cases, you may buy the property before the developer has even started work on the construction. With most off-plan homes, the buyer puts down an initial deposit, paying the rest once the house is finished. When buying off-plan, you typically get a say in the design, fixtures, and fittings.
Why is buying off-plan suddenly so popular?
Demand for homes in the UK far outstrips supply, and properties can’t be built fast enough to meet people’s needs. That’s why any new house or apartment earmarked for construction is highly sought after; it’s not uncommon to find queues of people waiting to see a show home at the development.
Government schemes, such as Help to Buy, have also boosted interest, with buyers receiving discounts when purchasing an off-plan or new-build property over an older home. These factors combined have led to an increase in demand for off-plan properties.
Benefits of buying property off-plan
Buying off-plan has several advantages over buying an older home, the obvious one being that you’re getting a brand-new property that hasn’t been lived in yet. That’s not the only benefit, though. Buying off-plan has other advantages, such as:
- The home could be worth more than you paid for it by the time construction finishes and you move in
- You can get a Help-to-Buy Equity loan to move into many off-plan properties
- Developers often offer discounts on the purchase price for off-plan homes. Get in early, and you could reserve one of the best plots
- You might be able to style the home to your taste before moving in, choosing the fixtures and fittings (this usually comes at an additional cost).
How does choosing the interiors work?
With an off-plan property, you typically get to choose the fixtures and fittings, from the kitchen appliances to the flooring. However, these come at an additional cost – higher-quality items are more expensive. Still, if you have the budget, being in control of everything, from the brand of fridge and washing machine to whether you want carpet or wood flooring, only adds to the excitement of moving into a new-build property.
How to buy a property off plan
Find out your affordability
Once you know how much deposit you have, speak to a mortgage broker to see what you can borrow. They’ll be able to provide an estimate and may get you a mortgage in principle, so you’ll know how much you can afford for an off-plan property.
Search the market
Use the property portals (remember to tick the ‘new build’ box) to look for new homes or speak to a local estate agent in your chosen postcode. Once you have an idea about the off-plan properties available, book a viewing to see a show home.
Reserve an off-plan home
After you find an off-plan property and know you can afford it, it’s time to make a reservation. Reservation fees vary but tend to cost a flat fee in the region of £1,000.
Get legal help
You’ll need to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal side of buying a home at this stage. They will run the necessary checks, such as whether the property is a leasehold or freehold and if any other significant work is planned in the area.
Sort out your finances
If you’re not a cash buyer, you’ll need to ensure you have a mortgage in place (more on that in a moment).
Exchange contracts off-plan
After the paperwork is completed and the solicitor or conveyancer has run the necessary checks, it’s time to exchange contracts. This stage differs slightly from buying an older horse – once you exchange, you’ll need to wait until the home has finished being built. You can visit the property while it’s under construction to see how the work is progressing.
Once your home is finished, you can move into the property.
Can I get an off-plan property with a mortgage?
Mortgage offers only tend to last for six months, and it might take longer to build the property. Ideally, there won’t be six months until the property is finished, and some lenders will happily extend the offer if needed. Still, it might be worth seeing if you can insert a get-out clause in the contract before you exchange, just in case the mortgage offer expires. To avoid any issues, ensure the developer gives you a clear time frame of when the property will be completed.
Planning for buying property off-plan
Buying a property off-plan allows you to move into a brand new home. It’s an exciting time for any home buyer, but you must ensure you know the ins and outs first. Having a clearer understanding of how to get a mortgage, as well as how long the property takes to complete and what type of fixtures and fittings you can include, will help you feel more confident about buying a home off-plan. Now, you just need to look forward to moving into your shiny new house.
Last Updated: July 28th, 2022