How to buy a property off plan like a pro

Buying off plan can be nerve-wracking for any buyer but, with our step by step guide, you’ll be purchasing your new property like a pro.

Step 1: Choose a developer

So you already know where you want to live and what kind of property you’re looking for, that’s the tricky part, right? Not quite. If you’ve decided upon a new build property, choosing your developer is a very important factor when buying off plan, as not all developers are equal. You’re about to embark on a journey with the company, whoever they are. So you want to make sure they are a) trustworthy, b) fair, and c) have an exceptional customer service record. You also want to make sure that the properties they build are what you’re looking for. 

Step 2: Secure your mortgage

Next, secure your mortgage in principle. This is essentially a statement of intent from the bank that says it will lend you the appropriate funds for your property. 
Only certain banks provide mortgage products for buying off plan, so it may be useful to speak to a Mortgage Advisor who can put you in touch with the right lenders. 

Step 3: Reserve a property

You’ve got your mortgage in principle and you’ve identified your dream home. Now it’s time to reserve it. In most cases, your reservation fee is a separate, smaller sum than your deposit that secures the property in your name. 
It shows your developer that you’re serious about the purchase and starts off the official process of purchasing your property. 

Step 4: Instruct your Solicitor

Boring – we know. But you now need to appoint a specific kind of solicitor known as a conveyancer to carry out the legal proceedings on your behalf. Again, buying off plan is a slightly different process, so appointing a professional with experience of that property type will make the process simpler. Appointing someone with experience in the area where you’re buying, for example if you’re buying in London, may also help things go smoothly on the legal side of things. 

Step 5: Finalise your paperwork

Finalising your mortgage, exchanging contracts and paying your deposit will set you on the road to securing that property once and for all! This is usually the final step before the wait for your keys begins.

Step 6: Move in

There could be a sizeable wait between steps 5 and 6 as the developer builds your home. Though in the meantime you may be asked for your preference on things like kitchen finishes, wall colours and bathroom fittings.  

Questions to ask…

1. How much is the reservation fee and deposit? 
2. What proportion of properties within the development are already sold? 
3. How experienced is the developer in new-build projects? 
4. What are the estimated timescales for each stage of the buying process? 
5. What proportion of new homeowners move into their property on time?
6. How long will the entire project take to be completed? 
7. What is the process for snagging after moving in?

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