Pointers for buying off plan

Zoe Davies, senior associate of Carter Jonas, who leads the national property consultancy’s new homes sales in Peterborough and Cambridge plots out what it means to buy off-plan

Zoe Davies of Carter Jonas

Buying ‘off-plan’ means reserving a home that has yet to be built. You will always see brand new homes developments – whatever their size- offered for sale as ‘plot’ numbers.  Sometimes these will relate to the final number of the house but not always.

There are many benefits in buying off plan, but it is important to establish a good working relationship with the agent or the developer’s sales adviser from the outset and for it to be sustained throughout the build-process.

Many developers build showhomes or viewhomes.  The distinction between the two is that a viewhome will just be decorated and fitted with carpets and kitchen and bathroom fittings but a showhome is fully ‘dressed’ with furniture, soft furnishings and knick-knacks and ornaments to suggest a ‘lived-in’ feel.

Showhomes are more common than viewhomes in order to give the best impression of living space.  Many people find it difficult to envisage size and living space without furniture and furnishings in-situ.

It is rare for a large new homes development to have showhome examples for the complete range of house designs that are available for sale on the site.

So just think of a showhome as a representation. The agent or adviser should explain the similarities and differences to the house type you are considering.

Buying off-plan can mean a degree of influence about the internal layouts or orientation of the space inside the house providing it does not affect the overall approved design of the house.  However, this does not apply to every developer and, in fact, the smaller developers offer more flexibility.

Study the plans for your house and the development layout carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

If the position of your home is important to you, ask to stand in the spot on-site where your property will be and walk in and around the plot to get an idea of dimensions.

Do your homework about the developer. Ask the agent or the sales adviser about locations of other current or recent developments by the housebuilder and arrange to visit these.

While contracts when buying-off plan – by the very nature of the build process – will not have a fixed date for completion, you should be told what season in the year that it will be ready, at the very least.  The nearer you get to the build completion the more defined the completion date becomes.

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