Most of us tend to look for homes that are already built. We like to see something ‘in the flesh’ before parting with our money. Of course, if you’re buying a new home, there’s real value to a builder if he can sell buildings he’s yet to finish. Doing this is called ‘buying off-plan’.
The builder is likely to have a large amount of money tied up in the development. A large part of this will be borrowed and the borrowings he has on one site might restrict his ability to borrow more money for the next site. He is also going to be keen to reduce risk and uncertainty and exchanging contracts to sell before the properties are completed means he’s likely to have a happy bank manager and a profitable scheme.
There are 5 main benefits to buying a ‘new build’ off plan. They are;
1: A Lower Price? By offering the builder an early sale you may be able to negotiate a lower price. Of course, in a rising market this might simply mean you’re fixing a price that’s likely to rise, but that’s a judgement only you can make.
2: Better Choice? By definition, getting in early and securing a unit before proper marketing has started means that you have more choice. You can secure the best unit - if you get in fast enough.
3: Certainty? Buying off plan also gives you certainty. If the building works have yet to start you might be waiting 6 months or more before the property is ready to move into. That gives you time to sell your own place and you can time completion to meet your new purchase.
4: An Easy Profit? Not all properties bought off plan are bought by the original buyer. As long as there is no clause in the contract to stop this, you may be able to sell on your contract to another buyer without even buying the property! This is only usually the case in a very buoyant market but if you do get the opportunity that 5% or 10% deposit you handed over at exchange might be doubled or more when you sell on.
5: More Bespoke Fittings? If you buy off plan the builder is able to make alterations that you might like incorporated into your dream home. This might include repositioning internal stud walls at the design stage, fitting bespoke bathroom and kitchen furniture and making changes to fittings. There will be a charge for this, but the costs are likely to be much less than if you were to do it after the property has been built.
There are potential downsides too. If prices fall, you might find yourself committed to buying at a higher price and if the market price has dropped you may need to find a larger deposit to cover the shortfall. Also, certainty is a two-way street. Once you exchange you are committed and unless the units are not built in accordance with the contract, you have to complete or face the consequences which may well include the loss of your deposit and being sued for damages.
With new homes now looking more and more attractive to buyers as cash for deposits becomes less necessary thanks to government help, it’s worth also considering if buying off plan might work for you.