Buying new properties off plan went through a boom period but declined sharply during the recession. But with many housing developments planned in Mid Wales and Shropshire, what are the benefits now?
Martin Moore from Morris, Marshall and Poole’s Shrewsbury office, who has sold hundreds of new homes over the last 20 years explains.
“Firstly let’s explode the obvious myth. There isn’t always a financial benefit to buying off plan. In fact the best value homes on a new development are often found at the tail end of building, when the developers are keen to move on. The problem here is that these will be the less favoured plots and this may prove a disadvantage if you need to sell in the future.
“At the moment the prices are trending upwards so when buying off plan agree a fixed price and secure this by exchanging contracts or gaining a firm commitment from the developer. You will then be protected if prices go up whilst the property is being built but remember, prices are not guaranteed to increase and could fall. Don’t buy off plan for profit alone but there are other advantages.
“The first real benefit to buying off plan is that you will have a choice of plots and can select the one that suits you best. Think about the size of garden, orientation and sunlight, how overlooked will it be, views, street scene, traffic, parking and can you extend in future. These are all features that will enhance your home and make it more attractive to buyers when you come to sell.
“Having chosen your perfect plot you can then turn to the building itself, most developers will allow off plan buyers to select a kitchen, bathroom suite, tiling, probably carpets / floor coverings and decoration. Many will also allow make layout changes or reassign rooms, if the planning permission and building regulations allow it."
“To get the best out of buying off plan you need to take advantage of this but be realistic, if the house is already at a sensible price don’t expect a load of extras for nothing.
“It is best to agree all the changes you want at the outset and fix the extra price if there is one, once construction is underway it can be much more difficult and costly to add, move or take things away. Be very specific, keep confirmation letters and get your solicitor to add them to the contract of sale to avoid any misunderstanding. I know it seems a lot of effort but there are real advantages to customising a home to meet your exact needs.
“There are some pitfalls to avoid. Don’t sacrifice a bedroom unless you have to, don’t convert a garage to a living room unless there is good alternative storage and keep kitchens neutral, unless you know you will be staying for a long time.
“Once the property is being built pay frequent visits and don’t be afraid to ask questions and point out concerns. Most developers subcontract elements of the construction and you do get breaks in communication, it is much easier to correct problems it they are identified early. If you think there is something seriously wrong, get your surveyor to check or speak with the new build warranty providers and ask their inspector for advice.
“Generally we don’t suggest getting involved with making large payment before completion, you will pay a deposit on exchange of contracts, normally 10% but it is negotiable and you may have to pay towards major alterations before completion.
"The bulk of the purchase money will be paid on completion of the building and before doing so your solicitor will check the warranty and building control paperwork. They will also suggest that you check your new home carefully and get any defects or problems put right before they transfer the cash, again you can always get help from your surveyor at this time if needed.
“Buying off plan can be a fantastic way of creating your perfect home and may well bring a financial benefit, best of all is knowing that your property will be different from the rest in the street and quite unique to you.”
For more details or to talk to Martin, call 01743 247755 or visit www.morrismarshall.co.uk.
Morris, Marshall and Poole has offices throughout Mid Wales and Shropshire. Click here to find your nearest office www.morrismarshall.co.uk/offices
Caption: Martin Moore of MMP's Shrewsbury office (top right) and a new build home (courtesy of Primesave Properties).