Are you buying a new build home for the first time? Or maybe you’ve bought before but need some advice? We discover 10 things owners of new build properties wish they’d known before they’d bought.
This guide to buying a new build home is based on feedback from owners who review their properties on HomeViews. One of the questions we ask homeowners when they review their property is, “What do you wish you’d known before moving in?”
The process of buying a new build home can be confusing. You may not even be sure of the right questions to ask. These tips let you enjoy the benefit of hindsight without making the mistakes yourself! Get equipped with these 10 nuggets of knowledge to make sure you buy the best new build property possible.
10 tips from owners on buying a new build
1. Be proactive in communicating with the developer
The buyers below give great advice for anyone buying a new build property: be proactive! This is especially the case if you are buying your home off plan. Make your voice heard before it’s too late. Stay on top of your timelines and don’t be afraid to make requests about anything.
“Don’t treat the developer like they’re the one doing you a favour. You are well within your right to be on their case with requests – updates on timelines, anything you’re not happy about when moving in (e.g. any snags etc), follow-up on things that are not delivered etc. Do not be apologetic, and if you’re not getting what you need from the build representative, escalate it before it’s too late and becomes yesterday’s news.”
“If buying off plan speak to the team if you have specific requirements on your kitchen preferences (I do!) they are very accommodating”
“I wish I knew more about affordable made-to-order furniture options, and curtains fitting options. Curtains are hard to figure out!”
2. Check all terms and conditions in your lease
It’s easy to skim over the small print of lengthy contract documents. Let’s face it – we all do it! But when it comes to your home, it’s vital that you carefully check all the terms and conditions of your lease. You don’t want any nasty surprises, and you may even find some nice ones!
“I wish had known the service fees would go up the way they have. I had no warning of this.”
“[I wish I’d known about the] Energy companies that you must use i.e. BT for internet only and heating companies”
“They even have a handyman available for free to help to assemble furniture, etc. for 2 months after completion.”
“The apartments are very well insulated and cosy, there is no gas in the development and unlimited 24 hour hot water and heating is included in the service charge.”
3. Check the development’s security arrangements
Feeling safe comes up a lot in the reviews we see on HomeViews. It’s important that you understand the security arrangements for any development that you’re considering buying in. Research the location, read HomeViews reviews and check that you’re going to feel secure once you’ve moved in.
“I also wish I knew the concierge was not 24 hours and that we don’t get a security as this area is in dire need of security and all the headaches I’ve had could have been avoided.”
4. Do your research on the developer and property manager
When buying a new build, there are two things you absolutely must do your research on. Firstly, the developer that built the development. Secondly, the management team, or operator of the building. The quality of the building and the service provided by the property manager are pivotal to both your happiness as a resident and the long-term value of your property. HomeViews provides ratings for developers and the management of developments, and allows you to read reviews from all their residents.
“I wish I knew the developer and the management team, I would have never put my feet in the sales suites”
5. If something is important to you, get it in writing
As well as checking what is already in your lease, you need to make sure that any extras that are important you are included as part of your contract. As this buyer laments, they were told parking would be available to them but it was not – either for visitors or to buy. Parking is a topic we see coming up regularly in reviews!
“I was told there was visitor parking. This was a lie. I was not offered the opportunity to purchase a parking space despite being one of the very first buyers.”
6. Check development plans in the area
New build homes are often built in areas that are undergoing a lot of development work. It can be hard to imagine what the neighbourhood will be like once complete. For this reason, make sure you fully understand all the plans for both the area and the development you’re considering.
“I wish I knew that the developer would be allowed to change the planning applications to build taller buildings and therefore causing decrease in the value of properties that were sold before.”
“There is a lot of development coming, make sure you look at all the wider plans for the area, we are particularly excited about the design district coming”
“[I wish I’d known that] the corridors will always be kept so plain and no decorations to them were ever going to be added”
“I wish had known that the empty stores would remain empty. I thought it would develop into a coffee shop but they have been empty for 2 years.”
7. Find out about resident groups even before you buy
Many new developments have residents’ groups that communicate via an app or online. This can make it mush easier to connect with neighbours, and can also make it easier to solve any problems once you’ve moved in. If you can, chat to a few residents before you decide to buy though – they’ll tell you exactly what it’s like to live there! HomeViews reviews can also give a very accurate picture of life in a development.
“Find out about resident groups early on because if you have an issue you will quickly find out someone else has already had to deal with it!
“There is a real community feel between the residents, people chat from their balconies and we have a WhatsApp group, picnics and parties and there’s always someone willing to lend you whatever you need.”
8. Carefully consider the specific new build home you buy
Does it really matter where your property is located within the development? According to these, and many other reviewers, it really does! The property’s orientation, layout, floor level, proximity to facilities and other similar factors will greatly affect what it’s like to live in.
“A river facing property would have been less noisy and dusty. Also purchasing a parking space would have been handy too.”
“Having an open view rather than looking directly on to another apartment block has been much more impactful than I had initially thought. This is a relatively small development and that has been great.”
9. Consider getting a snagging survey
For full peace of mind, think about arranging a snagging survey. Even brand new homes can have a range of (usually small!) issues that can easily be identified by this kind of survey. The best time to have one done is between building work finishing and your legal completion date. This means the developer has time to fix anything before your moving day.
“We didn’t use a snagging company but neighbours did and identified things such as soil quality and insulation issues which we didn’t think of ourselves.”
10. Visit the development more than once
You might fall in love with a development after your first visit. However, as any good agent will advise you, make sure you revisit more than once, and at different times of the day. It may seem very different on the weekend than on a weekday evening, for example. You’ll notice things you would have missed otherwise. It’s also a good idea to test out your work commute to or from that location!
“Visit the area at different times of the day to get a feel for the neighbourhood.”
HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, landlords and the Government to recognise high performers and help to improve standards in the built environment.