Why is conveyancing different for new-build homes?

When purchasing a new-build property, buyers are regularly faced with exchanging contracts and committing to the purchase before the property is built.

A buyer may purchase a property before construction has begun, or maybe later in the construction process, but often only the show-home will have been seen.  Instructing a solicitor who understands how new-build contracts work and has experience in dealing with planning permission implementation and road and drainage adoption is a distinct advantage in achieving a smooth, stress-free transaction.

The majority of house builders give the buyer only 4 weeks from reserving the property in which to achieve an exchange of contracts, and it is imperative that this time-scale imposed by the house builder is adhered to, otherwise you may be at risk of losing your reservation fee and house.  In a buoyant market, house builders can be particularly ruthless and therefore a major part of this process is instructing a good solicitor who understands the complexities of purchasing a new-build property and the deadlines that are involved, and who can work with the house builder to achieve a successful outcome.

To reduce the chances of losing the property, buyers should instruct solicitors as soon as the property is reserved, and mortgage enquiries should be submitted quickly.  Due to the fact that it could be several months and even years between exchange of contracts and completion, the mortgage offer may need to be extended, but it is important that you ensure a mortgage could be obtained.

Completion of a new build is different from buying a property in the second-hand market.  With builders having to rely on various factors, such as supply of materials and weather conditions, often no fixed completion date can be given.  When the property is structurally complete, the builder gives to the buyer written notice that it is ready, and then completion must take place within the period specified in the contract, usually 10 working days.  This allows time for any final inspection that may need to be carried out by the mortgage lender’s valuer, for the buyer to prepare a snagging list — which gives the builder time to rectify these items — and for the mortgage funds to be released in good time for completion.  No matter what house builders might say, they will rarely be tied down to a completion date unless the property is already structurally completed.

At Blaser Mills we pride ourselves on the service we offer to new home buyers.  We understand the tight deadlines involved and are able to guide a buyer through each stage of the process using plain English. We will always go the extra mile to make sure that we achieve a successful outcome for our clients, and we are committed to:-

  • Achieving builders’ exchange deadlines
  • Direct service offering nationwide coverage
  • Personal contact throughout
  • Liaising regularly with the on-site sales teams
  • Efficient communication with all parties
  • Advice in plain English, no legal jargon
  • Using the latest technology in conveyancing to cut the time it takes to move.  We also have the benefit of the full range of support services you would expect from a large regional law firm, ensuring that work is always dealt with quickly and efficiently.  Our aim is to make the whole process as quick and stress-free as possible, using our professional experience to drive the process forward smoothly from start to finish.

Existing property to sell?

Both our Commercial and Residential Property teams have a wealth of experience and are practised at working to tight deadlines while at the same time ensuring that the conveyancing for the sale of any existing property also progresses efficiently.

Part-exchanging?

Part-exchanging an existing home with the builder can be as complex as any home-buying process.  The builder’s solicitors must ensure that all legal aspects of the property are in order, because the builder will then be reselling a property of which he has no personal knowledge.  We are experienced in the unique requirements that part-exchange transactions bring, and we therefore offer a comprehensive advice package.

General Conveyancing Process

Stage one – agreement of sale

Once the sale is agreed, Blaser Mills will:-

  • Liaise with the house builder’s solicitors to obtain the draft contract paperwork
  • Raise any relevant enquiries based on the paperwork received from the house builder’s solicitors. Blaser Mills will check for planning and building regulations approvals and identify any issues relating to the drains and roads that will serve the property.  These issues are usually complex and we will need to ensure that, for example, there are sufficient rights of access to the property, and that planning conditions have been fulfilled.  This will prevent any difficulties during your period of ownership.  New-build insurance (such as NHBC) will also be considered and the terms of the policy examined to make sure that they cover you against any problems that may occur, including structural damage.  If you are buying with a mortgage, this sort of guarantee is essential.
  • Organise searches at the Local Authority and other relevant search providers on your behalf, and we will ask you for a payment on account of such expenses
  • Deal with the formal mortgage offer and all the conditions on your behalf.  Mortgage offers for new-build properties generally have special procedures, and you should check the terms of any mortgage offer especially to ascertain whether it could be extended if required.
  • Receive the search results and report to you on the outcome of the same
  • Receive replies to questions raised and report to you with the contract and mortgage deed for signing
  • Request your deposit.  This is usually 10% of the purchase price.

Stage two – exchange of contracts

Once contracts have been exchanged, Blaser Mills will:-

  • Hand over the deposit to the seller’s solicitor
  • Prepare a final completion statement for your approval
  • Collect any balance of funds required in readiness for completion.  This may be delayed if the completion date is not fixed at the time of exchange of contracts.
  • Organise final searches to check for debts and bankruptcy

Stage three – completion

On completion, Blaser Mills will:-

  • Send the balance purchase money to the house builder’s solicitors on the day of completion.  If a fixed completion date was not agreed on exchange of contracts, completion is usually 10 working days after the house builder has structurally completed the property and it has been signed off by Building Control.  They will then serve us with notice that completion can now take place in accordance with the contract.  You should ensure that you inspect the property prior to completion and take this opportunity to advise the house builder of any snagging items.
  • Receive and arrange for payment of any stamp duty to Revenue & Customs
  • Prepare and send off an application to the Land Registry to register your ownership
  • Register your ownership with NHBC or any other New Home Guarantee provider and forward the certificate to you
  • Advise your mortgage company that your ownership is now registered at the Land Registry