13 issues your solicitor must uncover when you invest off-plan

The best solicitors will leave no stone unturned to help your profitability

Investing in off-plan property offers the fantastic potential to make incredible profits. However, there are also greater risks and different challenges to overcome than when investing in existing property. In previous articles, we’ve discussed how to slash:

With the advice we’ve given in those articles, your off-plan investment will retain all its upside potential while the downside risk is massively reduced, and, in some cases, may even be eliminated.

One of the key people that you will need to have in your ‘investment team’ is an experienced solicitor who acts on your behalf, and not for the developer. In this article, you’ll learn about 13 issues that a solicitor will uncover in the contract, and ensure that should the dominos topple, they don’t topple in favour of the developer.

Why do you need a solicitor experienced in off-plan property?

An off-plan property contract is much more complex than the contract you would sign to buy your own home or an existing property for investment purposes. You’ll need specific advice on the terms of the deal.

When you invest in an off-plan property, there is a strict timetable of events which must be undertaken. Miss these and you could be financially penalised, and even lose your deposit. There may be financing challenges. There are final inspections to be made. Deposits should be protected. Paperwork must flow smoothly and seamlessly.

The legal issues and processes are very different to standard conveyancing. A run-of-the-mill general solicitor is unlikely to understand the process thoroughly, and any hiccup could cost you dearly. So we always recommend that investors use a solicitor who is experienced in off-plan property and dealing with developer’s solicitors, and who understands property investors rather than homebuyers.

What issues will your solicitor ensure don’t work against you in the contract?

You should expect your solicitor to be your legal guide all the way through to completion. But just as the success of your investment relies on the groundwork you do, so too does it rely on the groundwork the solicitor does when examining your off-plan property contract. He or she will interrogate the contract to uncover these 13 key issues:

  1. Are there any pre-conditions that must be met before the development can get off the ground?
  2. Is the developer able to change property specifications or development plans before completion, what notification is required to do so, and what rights do you have should they do so?
  3. How is your deposit held, and what safeguards are there in place to protect it?
  4. If the completion is delayed, what recourse do you have, and are there any penalties in place? Can the completion date be moved back or forward, and if so, how does this impact you?
  5. Are the fixtures and fittings fully described in the contract, and is the builder able to substitute selected fixtures and fittings?
  6. What happens if the size of the property is smaller than stated?
  7. How will build defects and snags be dealt with before completion?
  8. What warranties are in place on the property?
  9. Are there any provisions in the contract if you can’t get finance?
  10. If there is a dispute between you and the developer, is there a method of resolution to avoid expensive litigation?
  11. Are you able to sell before completion?
  12. Can the developer increase the price before completion?
  13. Are there any hidden costs, charges, or fees in the contract for which you will become liable?

After your solicitor has tackled all these issues and ensured the contract is fit for purpose, they will continue to work for you, handling:

  • Property searches
  • Certificates of title
  • Transfer deeds
  • Mortgage deeds
  • Stamp duty land tax

How to find a great off-plan property solicitor

As you can appreciate, you must find a great solicitor to help you achieve your investment’s potential. To do so, you should follow the following steps:

  • Ask for recommendations from family and friends
  • Ask other property investors – in person or online forums
  • Search the solicitor’s register
  • Read solicitors’ websites to uncover the detail of their experience
  • Speak to the solicitor in person

With those solicitors you have shortlisted, ask them:

  • How long have they been a member of the Law Society?
  • What conveyancing experience do they have?
  • What experience do they have in dealing with off-plan property investment?
  • Do they have property investors as clients?
  • What professional indemnity insurance do they have?

Take the shortcut to a great investment and great off-plan solicitor

There’s a lot of work needed to find an excellent solicitor for your off-plan property investment. When you invest through Gladfish, we recommend a solicitor from a tried and tested shortlist of solicitors who have specific experience in off-plan property, and dealing with developers and investors. Solicitors who have received fantastic reviews from other property investors. It should save you time and money.

Contact one of the Gladfish team today on +44 207 923 6100, and ensure your off-plan investment plans benefit from what so many investors call the best research, advice, consultation, and, of course, the best solicitors in the business.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author

Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Gladfish. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids.

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