What Buyers Should Know about New Build Conveyancing

Residential conveyancing for new builds is a detailed process and takes longer than conveyancing for older properties. First, you need to ensure that your finances are secured. Most developers prefer that buyers have their mortgage financing ironed out before signing any contracts. Note, though, that most standard offers are only viable for six months. If the conveyancing does not complete within this period, you would have to apply for an extension or a new mortgage altogether. You could also look for lenders offering new build deals with extended deadlines.

Buyers also need to ask to see full landscape drawings, electrical plans, and other specification details. Visit sites by this developer, especially ones with a similar design to the home you intend to buy. Often, developers will not let buyers view the actual property they will purchase until after its completion, so seeing similar ones in person could help determine if they meet your standards.

Before the conveyancing process, it is also helpful to know what incentives the developers are offering. Many will offer free parking, a choice of fittings and appliances, and coverage for miscellaneous fees like stamp duty. Ensure you always know what is included in the computation when you begin.

What to Know About the Actual Process

Once the developer makes an offer, you should have a conveyancing solicitor to start the process. Here are typical steps you can expect.

Securing a Reservation Agreement

Once both parties agree upon a sale, the buyer will have to pay reservation fees within 28 days or an agreed-upon period. This fee could range from £500 to upwards of £2,000 on high-end properties, which is deductible from the property’s total cost. If the buyer cannot exchange contracts within the specified timeframe or has to pull out of the sale, they cannot refund this sum.

Make sure the reservation agreement contains a breakdown of the purchase price. According to The Consumer Code for Home Builders, these agreements should include the cost of management fees and other charges. You can ask to have this in the contract if the seller does not readily provide it.

Paying the Deposit

Upon exchange of documents, buyers must pay between ten to 30 per cent of the new build’s total price. You will also need to sign a contract which states that you agree to buy at the advertised price and that you’ll pay the balance upon the build’s completion. 

This stipulation is tricky for many buyers. It is because mortgage lenders’ property valuations differ at the beginning of a build and after completion. When prices fall within that period, a lender could interpret that as a reduction in security, which means the buyer will not secure a mortgage. Consequently, he could lose the deposit because of a breach of contract.

Prospective buyers should ensure that they can “lock” a price upon contract exchange. Their agreement with the seller should also include what to expect from either party should prices rise or fall before the build’s completion. An experienced residential property lawyer would know how to ensure a “locked” price for his clients.

Carrying Out a Snagging Survey

At times, buyers could feel that the quality of work on the property they buy does not meet their expectations. No one wants this to happen, so it’s crucial to have a snagging provision in the contract that allows buyers to survey and itemise errors for the builder to repair. These defects can range from simple cosmetic ones to structural problems.

Before the final payment, you should carry out the snagging survey. The builder can disregard issues that arise after you move in as wear and tear due to habitation. Most new builds come with a ten-year NHBC warranty, providing you with some insurance against structural defects, though the NHBC can take a while to resolve issues. The bottom line is that you need an independent survey before completion or as soon as you move in to ensure a fair assessment of the property’s condition.


New build conveyancing is a complex process. Arguably, it is even more so compared to the ones for other types of homes. There are so many other things that could go wrong when buying a new build, so you’d want to have an experienced solicitor at the helm.

Conveyancing Expert is your trusted provider of legal services in the residential property market. We are conveyancing solicitors in Manchester strongly committed to streamlined, customer-focused processes and excellent service. Get a free, no-obligation quote today!