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Should I purchase a re-sale or newly constructed property? Decisions decisions!

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

It’s fair to say the new build market is a busy one and demand for newly built properties is growing.

In 2019, 161,022 homes were registered with NHBC, an 81% increase on the 88,849 homes registered a decade ago (2009), making 2019 the strongest year for NHBC new home registrations since 2007.

New or “pre-loved”?

Essentially it is a matter of personal preference, some people prefer the character of an older property whereas some prefer a shiny new one, but there are slight differences in the purchase procedure.

When purchasing a new build property it is fairly common to commit to the purchase and exchange contracts before the house or home is even built! You may have heard the expression “purchasing off plan”…because you are committing to purchase the property before it is actually built.

Of course when purchasing a re-sale property you get the opportunity to inspect the property then and there.

As a buyer it may be daunting to exchange contracts without seeing the actual house you are buying, hence it is a good idea to visit the show home to get a feel for what you want/need and inspect the plans carefully. It can be helpful to visit other sites for an idea of a particular design of property.

28 days later

Usually a developer will impose a 28 day deadline to exchange contracts from the date the property is reserved. In view of this it is important to have everything in order for example your mortgage offer in principal, easy access to the necessary funds to facilitate the purchase and instruct your solicitor as soon as possible. In a buoyant market there is sometimes little flexibility on this as such it is important to appoint a solicitor who is experienced in dealing with new build properties and can assist you to ensure the deadlines are met.

Purchasing a re-sale property does not usually have the same deadlines imposed, although it is still a good idea to get everything in order as quickly as possible to ensure delays do not cause issues with the chain.

It is also important early on to make any applications under the Help to Buy Scheme or any shared ownership schemes and deal with any requirements for your Help to Buy ISA (if any).

Are completion dates set in stone?

Given the weather, suppliers and other factors can all impact on the speed of the build any proposed completion dates are generally a guide at best.

When purchasing a re-sale property the completion date is usually fixed at the point of exchange of contracts, as such you know the date you are moving and its perhaps easier to organise work and family commitments around it.

When purchasing a newly built property, unless the property is complete at the point of exchange, the developer will give notice to the buyer that it is ready…..and completion must take place within the time frame specified in the contract (usually 10 working days). This allows time for final inspection by the mortgage lender’s valuer (if necessary), and for a snagging list (a list of faults or things for rectification) to be prepared by the buyer; for the builder to remedy these items; and for the (mortgage) funds to be released for completion.

Mortgage offers

It is important to note that mortgage offers are only valid for a certain period of time and completion of your purchase must take place prior to the expiry date. Completion of your new build property may be months down the line. As such it is important to keep in touch with your lender and broker to ensure that an extension of the offer will be granted if it expires prior to actual completion.

This is vitally important as you will be contractually committed to your purchase and without a valid mortgage offer are unlikely to be able to raise the funds to complete your purchase. Financial penalties will be imposed for breach of contract (if you are unable to complete on the contractual completion date) and ultimately you could lose the property and your deposit paid on exchange.

This is less of a problem when purchasing a re-sale property. Usually most transactions are completed easily prior to the expiry date although this is something to keep in mind if the completion date will be some time in the future or if there are delays during the transaction.


Pre-exchange searches are accurate only at the date of the search – things may change – for example planning permissions or road proposals may be submitted subsequent to the date of the search. Lenders will not allow searches to be more than 6 months old at completion.

As such, if more than six months have passed, it will be necessary to either undertake new searches prior to completion or obtain an indemnity insurance policy to provide cover for any adverse entries that would have been revealed had a new search been carried out. This option may not be acceptable to all mortgage lenders.

Why choose Wilson Browne Solicitors?

Whatever your decision our teams are experienced in both re-sale and new build transactions. We’re also on most of the major lenders’ panels too so you can be assured we’ll get you into your new home as quickly as reasonably possible.

Jenny Woodruff


Jenny Woodruff


Jenny is a Partner and head of the Residential Conveyancing Team. She has extensive knowledge of the conveyancing process, including: dealing with freehold and leasehold sales & purchases; new build purchases; remortgages; transfers of equity; shared ownership; help to buy transactions & general property advice.