Developers say that
buying in this way gives you a vital early
foothold in a new development and can save
you cash in the long run. But is it worth
As with buying any
property, there are always risks. The National
House Building Council (NHBC) says: "Off-plan
homes have all the attractions associated
with new houses. Freshly decorated rooms
need only minimal maintenance, and energy
efficient heating systems and good insulation
mean that running costs are low.
"Buying off plan
avoids the threat of being gazumped and
the house will be the end of the selling
chain. These advantages are important but
house buyers should be aware of the potential
One of these potential
difficulties is the fact that there isn't
usually a fixed date for completion in the
contract. If there are planning delays or
any other hold-ups, such as bad weather
while the house is being built, it could
mean your moving-in date is pushed back
At the opposite end
of the scale, if the house is ready on schedule,
it does not guarantee that the rest of the
scheme will be, so you could find yourself
waking up every morning in the middle of
a building site until they are completed.
Also, what you see
isn't always what you get. For example,
you may not realise just how close the house
actually is to the neighbours or be able
to see the quality of the workmanship until
its too late.
A spokesperson for
the NHBC says: "Off-plan homes are
a contract between the buyer and the builder,
but if the builder has an NHBC warranty
and you do have problems there is something
we can do about it.
if for any reason the builder goes bust
before the work has been finished, we will
either make sure the house is completed
so the homebuyer can still move in or we
will get the deposit paid back to them.
the completion date has not been met on
time, then it is a contractual issue and
we will have no sway. The homebuyer may
have to get a solicitor or conveyancer involved.
"Before you agree
to put a deposit down on an off-plan home,
you should always check out the builder's
reputation, especially if they are a small
"Ask around and
try to find out who else they have done
work for and if they have built any homes
nearby. It is also worth finding out of
they are registered with us."
But, especially for
first-time buyers, securing an off-plan
home does come with its own benefits.
To begin with, putting
down the deposit and watching your new house
quite literally grow will save you the considerable
hassle - and shoe leather - that other buyers
have to put up with as they traipse from
viewing to viewing.
And you'll also be
able to relax in the knowledge that gazumping
is something that only happens to other
There are financial
benefits too. Because the price of an off-plan
home is fixed at an early stage, it allows
the purchaser more time to save up and arrange
And a fixed price doesn't
mean the house value will stay the same.
If house prices do keep rising, then off-plan
buyers could be quids in before they even
unlock their new front door.