Is the conveyancing process different for a new build property?

Well, yes and no. The new build conveyancing process has many similarities to that of an older property, although with some added complexities. These largely stem from the potential risks associated with building a home from scratch. New build conveyancers use their legal expertise to handle these additional factors. 

If you’re thinking about purchasing a new build home, continue reading to see how the process compares to a regular property.


What is a new build home?

A new build property is one that is new constructed, having never been lived in before its sale. The definition can also extend to properties that have undergone dramatic renovations, causing little of the original house to remain. Regardless, new build properties are an opportunity for the buyer to design their ideal home from the ground up. As a result, those looking to buy a new build property are often more focused on choosing the location. 

There are pros and cons associated with new build homes compared to older ones. For instance, new builds don’t have a chain or the need for extensive refurbishing. However, negatives come from having a more complicated conveyancing process. This is largely because of regulations and issues that arise from the construction of the property. 

house under construction

There are two types of new build properties, which are: 

  • Off-plan homes – properties that are sold before they have been built. 
  • Completed homes – properties that have been built but not lived in. 



As with any property purchase, it pays to do extensive research. However, this is arguably more important when buying a new build home as it comes with development considerations. As such, one of the first areas you should investigate is the developer’s expertise. Talk to other new build buyers and see how the developer has handled similar projects in the past. Does the developer excel in a particular style of property? How do they deal with delays? 

The nature of the new build will also affect how research and planning is done. For instance, off-plan buyers often view show homes to get a sense of what the property will be like when it’s finished.  

Another aspect of the new build property to research is whether the offer is for freehold or leasehold ownership. This means: 

  • Freehold – you’re the sole owner of the property and the land it stands on, according to the Land Registry. You are responsible for maintaining the interior and exterior of the building. 
  • Leasehold – you lease from the freeholder (registered owner) for a number of years. For new build homes, this typically covers a long period of time of 100 years or more. 


New build property conveyancing process

Buying a new build home is a very similar process to any other home purchase, except with a few differences and additions. Opportunities for further complications mostly come during the planning and construction phase. 

Pay the reservation fee

Those looking to buy a new build property are usually expected to pay a reservation fee. This is non-returnable and tends to be between £500 and £2000, although it’s deducted from the purchase price when the sale goes through. The reservation fee ensures the property is held under your name for an agreed amount of time. 

Finalise the mortgage

Finalising the mortgage provides assurance to developers that the buyer has the funds to ensure the work can be completed. This can also be useful to account for any issues that arise during construction and lead to higher costs. Some mortgage lenders offer a dedicated new build mortgage which has a longer deadline. This can be a good option, as if the process lasts longer than nine months, you could be required to apply for an extension or a new mortgage all together. 

Select a conveyancer

Once the property is reserved and your finances are in order, it’s time to choose a conveyancing solicitor to be your legal partner for the remainder of the process. They work to ensure the buyer gets the best deal possible, while ensuring the process runs smoothly. Their duties include: 

  • Obtain a draft copy of the contract. 
  • Review the conditions of the buyer’s mortgage. 
  • Check for the presence of restrictive covenants if the property is a leasehold. 
  • Make sure electricity, gas, water, and drainage solutions are all available to the property. 
  • Check the project has received approval for building and planning regulations. 
  • Organise and/or conduct surveys and checks. 

Looking for services to help with new build conveyancing Cramlington? Toomey Legal are experienced in providing expert legal advice for home buyers across the Newcastle area. 

Conduct snagging checks

Pre-move snagging is advised as it can reveal issues and defects with the property. It involves having a surveyor conduct a detailed inspection of the interior and exterior, noting any problems in pictures and writing. The developer is then required to rectify any problems with the property before the move in date. 

Deposit payment and exchange of contracts

Once the property is deemed ready and all relevant legal work has been completed, the buyer’s and developer’s solicitors will meet to exchange contracts. This also requires the buyer pay their deposit, which is usually 10% of the total purchase value.  


The final stage in the new build conveyancing process, completion starts with the setting of a move in date. On this day, which is typically around 10 days from the exchange of contracts, the buyer receives the keys to their new home. 


Key differences

With the right conveyancer by your side, the process of buying a new build home can be as stress free as possible. However, there are some differences that buyers should be mindful of, both positive and negative. These are:  

  • Planning regulation compliance 
  • More thorough property surveys and checks 
  • No onward chain to consider 
  • Developers pushing for quick turnaround 
  • New build warranty protection 
  • Longer time from offer to completion


Fixed fee conveyancing Newcastle

Toomey Legal are experienced property law solicitors with a history of helping people buy and sell their ideal homes. We offer fixed fee conveyancing services are both new build and pre-existing properties throughout the north east. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to give you a quote on your new build property.