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Buying off-plan

Posted: February 2015

By Jo Eccles

Buying off plan is big business abroad, with many UK developments being marketed to overseas buyers before they’re even offered to UK based purchasers. However, buying off plan is becoming increasingly popular with British buyers according to one large property firm which cites a 30% increase in the last 12 months.

We’ve definitely seen an increase in our own British clients wanting to buy new build developments. We recently acted for one client who had four young children and he wanted to buy them each a property for when they were older. He wanted low maintenance properties, and didn’t want any discrepancies or cause for argument between the siblings, so buying four identical off plan flats suited him perfectly.

Some buyers think that buying off plan means big discounts, but this is not always the case. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a discount on the price and extras to be thrown in – we bought a flat in Camden for a client’s son a couple of years ago and as well as a 12% discount on the price, we were able to upgrade a lot of the fixtures and fittings free of charge and change part of the layout. This was done in return for offering to exchange very quickly, which appealed to the developer.

One advice is to find out when the developer’s financial year end is as they may be much keener to agree a sale if you can get exchanged before they close that year’s accounts, helping contribute to their annual targets. In some cases, though, some developers will hold firm, with some refusing to sell altogether. In other cases, developers may charge a premium for allowing you to buy off plan and having your pick of the best units – and that’s if they’ll sell to you at all. With one of our clients, a development was being marketed to overseas buyers ahead of UK buyers. We tried to buy a flat anyway through the London new homes team but couldn’t. In the end, we had to go to the new homes team in Singapore to secure a flat for him.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sppropertygroup.com or tweet her @joeccles.