Buying a new build property can be a complex process, especially compared to buying an older, traditional property.
That’s why it’s essential to hire a qualified conveyancer to help you through each stage of the process.
In this article, we’ll take you step-by-step through the new build conveyancing process.
Do you need a conveyancer for a new build?
The simple answer is ‘Yes’! That’s because the legal side of acquiring a new build property is more time-consuming and involved than any other kind of conveyancing.
The prospect for something going wrong with a new build purchase is higher than for older homes, including:
- Not complying with planning rules;
- Not arranging NHBC inspections;
- Not having agreements for new roads and sewers;
- Not planning for the future maintenance of the development’s common parts.
A good conveyancer will ensure that everything is done correctly so that you don’t run into any problems further down the line.
They will also help to protect your interests, for example, by negotiating with the developer on your behalf or advising you on what to do if there are any delays in getting the property ready for you to move in.
If you’re buying a new home, it’s worth investing in a good new build conveyancing expert to make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
What searches are done when buying a new build?
When buying a new home, there are conveyancing searches that need to be carried out to ensure the property is compliant with planning regulations and that the developer has all the necessary permissions in place. The most common searches are:
Local Authority Search
This search will provide details of any planning applications or enforcement notices that have been made against the property or the local area.
This search will highlight any potential environmental issues, such as contaminated land or archaeological remains.
This search is carried out to check whether the property is in a conservation area.
A mining search will reveal whether there is any potential for coal mining or other mineral extraction in the area, including former mine works.
A water search will identify any potential issues with the water supply, such as a lack of mains water or an insufficient water supply.
It is important to instruct a solicitor who is experienced in handling new build purchases, as they will be aware of the searches that need to be carried out.
How long does a new build conveyancing process take?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring property from one person to another and will normally take between four to six weeks. It can take longer if there are any complications.
The new build conveyancing process can be a little easier as you don’t need to rely on a chain of buyers or sellers, though it’s important to make sure that you’re aware of the timeline for conveyancing.
That’s because you don’t want to be caught out by any delays, especially if you need to move into your new home by a specific date.
The good news is that most of the work on newly build properties can be done before you even exchange contracts.
This means that the process can move a lot faster once you’ve exchanged contracts and are ready to go to legal completion.
Is new build conveyancing more expensive?
New build conveyancing is usually more expensive and their fees cover the amount you’ll pay to make sure the legal side of a house purchase is handled correctly and, considering the purchase price of your new home, will be money well spent.
Conveyancing fees can be split into two parts:
- Legal fees: This is what the conveyancer or solicitor charges for doing the work.
- Disbursements: This is what third parties charge for certain services, such as searches.
So, what are the conveyancing fees for a new build?
The fees for a new build can be more expensive than for an existing property because there are often more legal processes involved. For example, you may need to pay for:
- Searching the local authority planning register to check that the development has planning permission and has been built in accordance with the planning regulations;
- Searching the Land Registry to check that the seller is the legal owner of the property and there are no mortgages or charges registered against it;
- Searching the water and drainage board’s records to check there are no unpaid bills or other problems with the property’s water supply or drainage.
The solicitor will also prepare a draft contract, rather than using a standard form, and arrange additional insurance, such as title insurance, to cover you against any problems with the title to the property.
Obviously, the cost of these searches and processes can add up, so it’s important to factor in the extra cost when budgeting for your new build purchase.
Why do conveyancing solicitors charge more for a new build?
Having examined the costs involved when conveyancing a new build, you need to appreciate that this type of purchase can be fraught with potential problems, so it’s not surprising that conveyancing solicitors tend to charge more.
We looked at the potential issues earlier that cause delays and financial headaches but new-build buyers should appreciate that there is usually more paperwork involved in a new build purchase.
You will need your solicitor to check that everything has been done correctly by the developer.
This can include checking the planning permissions, the NHBC guarantees, and other warranty providers.
Finally, there is often a lot of negotiating to be done in new build transactions, as both the buyer and the developer hope to secure the best deal possible – and this can add to the cost of the conveyancing process.
Should you use a new build’s developer’s solicitor?
When buying a new build, you may be asked to use the developer’s solicitor.
But should you really?
Panel solicitors will have a good relationship with the developer’s legal team and can exchange contracts quickly – but does this mean they’re any better for you?
There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s important to weigh up all the options before making a decision. Here are some things to consider:
Any solicitor you work with will be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). This means they must act in your best interests at all times.
Relationship with the developer
Panel solicitors usually have a good relationship with the developer’s legal team. This can be helpful as they may be able to exchange contracts quickly, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re any better for you.
Exchanging contracts quickly is important for developers – it secures the sale and the buyer’s deposit. However, this doesn’t mean your solicitor won’t have enough time to do a good job.
Using the developer’s solicitor may not be any more expensive than using your own. Speak to your chosen solicitor about their costs and whether they offer a fixed price for new build purchases.
Your solicitor will have years of experience in property law. This is something that you don’t want to compromise on.
Ultimately, the decision about whether to use a developer’s solicitor is up to you so consider the pros and cons and make the decision that’s right for you.
Can I complete on a new build property before it’s finished?
Most people buying a new build will complete it before it is finished. This is known as ‘completing in advance’.
In most cases, you will have to pay the developer for the work that has been done so far, and then you will have to arrange for the rest of the work to be completed.
You should always check your contract to see what is included in the advance completion. For example, you may need to pay for external decorations and finishings, and for some fixtures and fittings.
There are a few things to think about before you decide whether or not to complete on a new build before it is finished.
For example, you need to make sure the property is ready for you to move into. You also need to make sure that you are happy with the work that has been done so far.
If you decide to complete on a new build property before it is finished, you should talk to your developer about what needs to be done.
They will be able to give you a timeline for the work that needs to be completed.
What should I ask when buying a new build?
When buying a new build, you may want to have some questions to ask – which the new build conveyancing solicitor may also want answers to!
What is the build date?
Make sure you know when the house is expected to be completed. This will help you gauge whether the developer is on track and how long you may have to wait before you can move in.
Are there any show homes?
If so, take a look at them! This will give you a good idea of the quality and style of the development.
What is the developer’s reputation like?
Do your research! Ask around or look online to find out what others have thought of the development and the developer.
Are there any restrictions on who can buy?
Some developers may restrict who can buy the properties in their development. This could be for a number of reasons, so it’s important to find out upfront.
What is the price per square foot?
Be sure to get an idea of how much each square foot will cost you. This will help you budget and decide if the development is within your price range.
Are there any service charges?
If you are buying a new build flat, for example, be sure to ask about any service charges that may apply. This will help you budget for your new property.
The New Build Conveyancing Process
While it may be an exciting undertaking to buy a new build home, you should always use a reputable and experienced new build conveyancing solicitor.
They will ensure the legal process has been followed and there won’t be any major issues in the months and years to come – and help you avoid potentially expensive mistakes.