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Buying a New-build Home: Process and How it Works

There is nothing quite like the allure of a fresh new-build property. That undeniable sense of pride that comes with being the first to make a home yours. No inherited flaws or outdated styles to contend with—just a clean slate to make your design visions come to life exactly as you please.

If owning a pristine new-build is on your radar, this comprehensive guide will take you through every step of the journey. From understanding the unique buying process and incentives to finding your perfect spot, we’ll get you fully prepared to start on this exciting new chapter with confidence. And we’ll even provide a few options if you’re looking to sell your current place. 

The advantages of going new over older stock

While older properties often have charm and character, new-builds offer a host of modern advantages that are hard to overlook:

Design your dream home from scratch 

One of the primary draws of buying a new-build is the ability to customise nearly every aspect of your home’s interior and exterior design. Most developers offer a selection of choices that allow you to tailor items like:

  • Layout and room configurations
  • Kitchen cabinetry design and colours
  • Bathroom tiling, fixtures and finishes
  • Flooring materials and stain choices
  • Built-in shelving and storage designs
  • Architectural elements like fireplaces
  • Colour schemes for every room
  • Smart tech and media packages

The earlier you reserve during the build process, the more opportunity you’ll have to incorporate personal touches and create a truly bespoke living space uniquely suited to your taste and lifestyle.

Lower maintenance and running costs 

Today’s new-build homes must adhere to stringent energy efficiency standards, often using premium insulation, double and triple glazed windows, solar capabilities and ultra-modern heating and cooling systems to reduce utility spending compared to older existing properties. Many developers also offer options for smart home tech and energy-saving appliance packages to further maximise efficiency.

On top of lowered monthly costs, you’ll be able to enjoy that new home feeling for years to come with no major repairs or renovations needed upfront. New-builds come with 10-year warranties covering structural defects. As a result, you’ll have valuable peace of mind.

Prime locations in up-and-coming areas 

Developers strategically acquire land in desirable areas primed for growth, building out entire developments and communities to appeal to new owners. Depending on where the development is located, you may be among the first to call the area home, with potentially new infrastructure, schools, retail spaces, parks and more being developed over the coming years, ultimately driving up the property value.

Finding your ideal new-build plot

Now that you understand the benefits of buying new, it’s time to start searching for potential properties and developments that fit your wish list. Here are some tips:

Work with a new-build specialist estate agent

While searching online provides a good starting point, working with a local estate agent who specialises in new-build properties can streamline your search. They’ll have the latest details on up-and-coming developments and can schedule viewings for you to get a proper feel for the build quality and community amenities.

Visit developer site offices and show homes 

Many developers offer on-site marketing suites and show homes for you to browse various models, floor plans, fixtures and finishes in person at their locations. Sign up for hard hat site tours so you can experience the grounds and neighbourhood first-hand before deciding.

Tap Into developer connections 

Subscribe to email lists and follow active developers on social media to get the inside scoop on their latest launches, incentives and availability updates. Many host special events for purchasers to get early access to reserve plots before the general public.

The new-build purchase process from start to finish

Once you’ve found that perfect new-build plot that ticks all the boxes, the purchase process has some unique aspects compared to an existing property:

  1. Pay the reservation fee. To secure your chosen plot before anyone else can buy it, you’ll need to pay a reservation deposit, typically around £1,000. This comes off the overall purchase price and officially takes the property off the market.
  2. Appoint a conveyancing solicitor. Given the longer build timelines of new properties, it’s important to appoint an experienced conveyancing solicitor to handle all of the legal paperwork and contracts specific to your new-build purchase to ensure all interests are protected.
  3. Finalise your mortgage. If getting a mortgage, check the offer validity date to see that it extends beyond the estimated completion date, as new-build loans can sometimes have longer durations than normal. Some lenders provide specialised new-build mortgage products to account for these timelines.
  4. Make design selections. During the build process, you’ll work directly with the developer to iron out all remaining choices for your home’s specifications and finishes based on what’s available with your selected property.
  5. Legal obligations met. As construction progresses, your solicitor will coordinate all remaining legal requirements for the transaction to be ready to complete once the final checks are done.
  6. Snagging and completion. Several weeks prior to the target move-in date, you’ll have an opportunity to inspect the finished property and make a ‘snagging’ list of any minor faults that need correcting. Once all shortcomings are addressed, you’ll be able to finalise your mortgage, make any outstanding payments required and collect the keys to your shiny new home!

Incentives to make new-builds even more enticing

To help drive sales, many developers offer lucrative incentives aimed at attracting purchasers to their new-build sites and making the overall costs more palatable. Some common examples include:

  • Paying your stamp duty tax obligation
  • Covering moving costs or contributing cash toward your deposit
  • Installing premium design upgrades like luxury flooring or appliances at no charge
  • Offering discount schemes for first-time, NHS, armed forces and other select buyers
  • Taking your existing home in part-exchange toward the new one
  • Contributing thousands toward legal fees, mortgage costs or temporary rental.

The incentives currently being offered can vary significantly between developments and over time, so be sure to inquire what’s available during your search to see how you can maximise your savings.

Specialised lending for new-build purchases

While a standard residential mortgage will work for a new-build purchase, many lenders provide specialised new-build mortgage products tailored to the unique timelines and requirements involved with that type of property.

Case-in-point, construction mortgages are designed to cover the costs of the build process itself via an interim loan before converting to a standard mortgage once complete. This allows purchasers to make interest-only stage payments during construction ahead of moving into their new home.

Some mortgages are also designed specifically around certain types of buyer incentives or pricing assistance schemes offered by the developers, so having the right loan product in place is key.

Assistance schemes for budding homeowners

No matter your personal situation, chances are there’s some type of scheme or incentive available to make buying a new-build that much more affordable.

First-time and low-Income buyers:

  • First Homes Scheme. Provides new-build homes at a discount of 30-50% off market price for first-time buyers meeting criteria like income caps and local connections.
  • Shared Ownership. Why buy 100% of a new-build at the outset when you can get started with as little as 10% through a housing association?
  • Armed Forces Help to Buy. Similar to the main scheme but tailored for members and veterans of the UK armed forces.
  • Mortgage Guarantee Scheme. Launched in 2021, this scheme encourages lenders to offer 95% mortgages by providing them with a government-backed guarantee.
  • Deposit Unlock. Launched in 2022, it allows any buyer to purchase select new-builds with just a 5% deposit via participating builders and lenders.

The specific qualification rules and structures vary across all these programs, but the outcome is the same—helping Britons get on the property ladder through smart financial assistance toward that dream new-build.

Warranties and built-in quality assurances

Not only do shiny new properties offer more modern amenities and customisable interiors, but new-build buyers receive valuable warranties and quality guarantees too:

Builder warranties 

Under the Consumer Code for Home Builders, all major UK developers are required to provide warranties on their new homes. The most comprehensive is the 10-year policy backed by warranty bodies like NHBC, Premier Guarantee and LABC. This covers:

  • Two years of defect repairs from the builder
  • 10 years of structural protection for foundations, framing, etc.
  • Alternative accommodation if issues make the home uninhabitable
  • Deposit and fees refunded if the builder ceases trading prior to completion

In addition, each new property must undergo regular independent inspections throughout the construction process to guarantee building code compliance and quality workmanship.

Consumer protection beyond the build

The code also requires builders to have fair sales practices, transparent contracts, a formal process for addressing complaints or defects and more to protect buyers’ interests long after handing over the keys.

Rest assured, your new-build will not only be built to higher modern standards, but your investment is safeguarded against future problems or misconduct as well.

To pursue – or not to pursue: your brand new home?

Customised living matched to your every desire. Minimal upkeep coupled with maximum energy efficiency for low costs. Prime locations and incentivised prices. The advantages of purchasing a new-build property are hard to ignore.

At the same time, that sparkling fresh feel is far from the only major benefit you’ll enjoy. From warranties and quality oversight during construction, to lending products and schemes perfectly suited to your needs, the new-build path is designed to create an enjoyable journey to homeownership from day one.

What if I need to sell a property quickly before moving into a new build?

If you need to sell your existing property quickly before purchasing a new build home, using a cash-buying company like Property Rescue can offer the ideal solution. We specialise in fast, hassle-free transactions, and we are able to complete the sale within as little as a week or two if needed. 

The best part is that when you sell to us, you get to decide the exact date when you want to move out. There’s no pressure from us. We buy according to your schedule, so you have full control of when you move out and can time it perfectly around the date when you want to move into your new build.

With Property Rescue, you’ll receive a fair cash offer upfront, without the need for listings, viewings or negotiating with buyers. We’ll handle all the paperwork and legal costs, allowing you to sell your current home swiftly and have the funds ready to proceed with your new build purchase without delays. Our streamlined process ensures a stress-free experience, enabling you to seamlessly transition into your brand new dream home. 

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