What to Expect When Buying a Property Off Plan
Like most housing providers, we sell the majority of our new build Shared Ownership properties off plan. This is different from buying a re-sale home where you can come and view the exact property your will be purchasing. Below are some things you need to know about buying off plan.
What does 'off plan' mean?
Buying off plan means that applicants agree to reserve the property whilst it is still under construction. Unlike some developers who allow prospective buyers to purchase properties before foundations have even been laid, Family Mosaic's off plan properties are available only months before they have been fully completed. This is why you would not expect huge discounts as when you buy years in advance.
Why buy off plan?
As mentioned above, many buyers choose to go for off plan in the hope that they will make a handsome profit once the property has been handed over. Since Family Mosaic doesn't sell their off plan properties a long time in advance there is no advantage of a huge discount.
Why should you buy off plan then? In practice, if you are looking to buy a new build property, buying off plan is your only option. If you wait for the development to be fully completed, there may not be any more units for sale.
The pros of buying off plan
In this instance, buying off plan equals buying new build because if you want to buy new build you will have to, in all likelihood, buy off plan. The benefits of purchasing a new-build home are many; you get a beautiful, brand new apartment to move into, it meets all the modern standards for new homes and comes with a warranty period should anything go wrong.
All new build Family Mosaic properties come with a warranty, usually for one year (from the date your property is handed over to Family Mosaic from the developer, not the date on which you complete). This one year period is commonly referred to as the ‘defects liability period’. The developer of your home is responsible for rectifying specified defects that occur in your property during this year. Also, new buildings have to meet stringent rules such as energy efficiency standards, reducing noise pollution, etc.
The risks of buying off plan
When buying an off plan property from Family Mosaic, the risks are greatly reduced as you only buy the property several months in advance. There is, however, always the risk of delays. This can cause some problems as the standard mortgage offer tends to be for three to six months. This means that if the development is delayed, you may need to re-apply for your mortgage.
Will I end up in negative equity?
Negative equity is when your property loses in value and it's current value is less than what you bought it for. Buying property is a speculative activity and you always have to consider fluctuations in value of your home. However, in London, where the property market is particularly robust, the likely of your property's value decreasing considerably after purchase is not great.
Questions to ask when buying off plan
When you buy off plan, you make a purchase without actually seeing the home you will be moving into. This is why, it's important to get a good understanding of what your will be getting.
How will I know what I’m buying?
When launching any of our new build developments, we will release a brochure where we include information such as a site plan and floor plans for all available units as well as computer generated images of how the development will look once it is complete. This may include internal as well as external computer generated images, along with details of the specification you can expect in each of our Shared Ownership homes.
You can see our current new build properties for sale using our property search. Here you will find examples of computer generated images as well as property brochures and floor plans.
What is included?
During your viewing you will be shown a 'show home' - a finished and furnished apartment to give you some idea of what your home will look like when it's finished.
Your apartment will be unfurnished so if you particularly like the sofa in the show apartment, you will have to arrange to buy it yourself. However, you may want to ask:
- will the kitchen / bathroom look like in the show home?
- will I get any white goods (fridge, cooker, etc.) with the property and if so, which ones?
Other things you need to know:
- what is the building warranty?
- who built it? who is the landlord?
- how long is your lease?
- an illustration of the expenses (service charge, your mortgage repayments, for Shared Ownership also rent)
- do I get a parking space?
- other rules governing the development - for example if you can keep pets*
* You will still need to apply for a permission to keep a cat or a dog but some estates are pet-free where no such permission will be given. It's good to check for that before you buy.
How to buy a property off plan?
Your first port of contact is our website where you can view new and upcoming developments. You then need to:
Register your interest online
We ask that you specify a development of interest when you register with us; therefore you will only receive information for the development you are interested in. Once you have registered your interest, we will send you monthly newsletters to keep you updated with the development’s progress.
Do the affordability assessment
Closer to the release date, we will invite you to complete an affordability assessment with a mortgage adviser.
View the show home
Once this has been completed and if you are deemed eligible and able to afford the property, we will invite you to a viewing of the show home at the development. This all occurs prior to the completion of construction of the property.
What happens when you view a property off plan?
On a particular viewing day* you will be greeted by a member of the Family Mosaic Sales Team who will guide you through the viewing. You will be shown a show home on site, which is an example of the type of property you will be purchasing.
The house or apartment you purchase may have a different layout to that of the Show Home. You should therefore refer to the property brochure for the development for exact layouts and finishes of your intended purchase.
Viewing appointments will usually last for around 30 minutes, but can last longer if necessary. We will also, on occasion, have a mortgage adviser on site to assist with any questions you may have regarding financing your purchase.
If you are still interested in purchasing after viewing:
- we ask you to complete an expression of interest form at the viewing and we then prioritise applicants in line with our allocation procedure.
- If you are offered a property after the allocation stage, you pay a £500 reservation fee which will be deducted from the cost of purchase once contracts exchange.
Because the development site is usually still under construction at viewing stage, we ask that that no children come to viewings.
Please be aware that as a safety precaution you also need to wear suitable footwear that does not expose your feet to potential hazards when accessing the site , i.e. no sandals, flip flops etc..
We ask that you call the Sales Executive when you arrive for the viewing and they will come and escort you to the Show Home. Please do not enter any development unaccompanied as it will usually still be under construction.
When will I be able to move in?
If you reserve one of our properties off plan, we will notify you when the development is due to complete and arrange a mutually convenient time to hand over the keys to your new home. As part of the moving in process, our New Homes Team will meet you to talk through all the particulars of your property including heating, electricity, bin storage and windows, for example.
Alternatives to buying off plan
As well as our new build properties we sell off plan, we also have a continuously updated stock of resale properties that become available. A resale property is a home that a current owner bought through Shared Ownership and now wishes to sell on. With resales you can view the property you are looking to buy a share in.
Moving into a development where the neighbours are already moved in and settled has its advantages. It’s nice to know someone’s there if you need to borrow some sugar.
With resale properties, you don’t necessarily have to live or work in the borough where you are looking to buy, which makes moving areas a lot easier. However, you will need to buy at least the share that the current seller owns. For more information visit our guide to resales or search for resale properties using our property search page.
*Details of the viewing day are an example only as details may differ for individual schemes.