Homeowners reveal what they wish they’d known before buying

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Over 7000 buyers who bought a new build in the last 3 years recently revealed their regrets. Property management, parking and gardens top the list of things they wish they had thought about before buying their home. Those surveyed also voted for their favourite developers for first time buyers and shared owners. Latest research reveals that:
● 36% of new build homeowners wish they had researched their management company and developer more. Many homeowners felt let down by the on-going management of their home.
● 35% of new build homeowners wish they had thought more about the parking provision. Not doing so created a lot of stress.
● 19% wish they had investigated the quality of the garden. Issues ranged from poor drainage to rubble making it hard to enjoy the garden.
● Home owners also said they wish they’d booked in a snagging survey (18%) and visited the property at different times of the day (15%). See full list at end.
● First time buyers voted Berkeley Homes as their favourite developer, followed by Countryside and Davidson Homes. Top 10 list at the end
● For shared owners, Peabody is the top ranking housing association, followed by L&Q and Notting Hill Genesis. Top 5 list at the end
The findings form part of the HomeViews New Build Buyer’s Guide, published in partnership with HomeOwners Alliance. Also included in the guide is a practical checklist by HomeOwners Alliance, giving buyers a helping hand if they are thinking about buying a new build.
Paula Higgins, CEO, HomeOwners Alliance
Don’t assume anything when you’re buying a new home. There’s a lot more to research than you think. And with a new build in particular, you need to look beyond the glossy marketing brochure. This Homebuyers Guide will help you go in with your eyes wide open so you don’t overlook the small stuff - from parking provision to ongoing service charges, from issues around new build gardens to sources of noise. Until now it’s been difficult to find independent and verified information about new developments.
Rory Cramer, Co-founder and CEO, HomeViews:
HomeViews exists to give buyers and tenants the best information about finding the best possible new home. Our verified reviews are one of the best ways for new build buyers to avoid any of the ‘nasty surprises’ during the buying process, and to stay informed about common issues that are likely to come up. Our new Buyer’s Guide brings together some of our extra review data not publicly available on HomeViews.com – data the industry is already using to better understand residents and raise standards in the UK.


Top 10 developers for first time buyers: Berkeley Homes, Countryside, Davidson Homes, Barratt London, Bellway Homes, Fairview New Homes, St George, Avant Homes, Lovell Homes, Crest Nicholson
Developers with at least 100 verified owner reviews by those who identified themselves as First Time Buyers across at least 3 developments were analysed. Ranking was established by look at their star rating, after-sales care, delivery quality and owner recommends. All categories were weighted equally
Top 5 housing associations for shared owners: Peabody, L&Q, Notting Hill Genesis, Metropolitan Thames Valley, Catalyst Housing.
Housing associations with at least 30 verified reviews from shared owners and with at least 3 developments. Ranking was calculated by looking at the ratings for star rating, after-sales care, delivery quality and owner recommends. All categories were weighted equally.
10 THINGS I WISH I HAD DONE BEFORE BUYING
1. Research the property manager as well as the developer (36%)

HomeOwners Alliance advises “Most management companies will have at least a Facebook page and Google reviews you can research. Ideally, they should be a Leasehold Knowledge Partnership accredited company as this means they hold the ethos that leaseholders should be making the decisions about their buildings and support fairness and straight dealing.”
2. Known about the parking arrangements, such as the on-street parking situation (35%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “This is something to think carefully about up front to ensure you have the space you need. Don’t assume you’ll be allocated a space or that there is nearby parking. There may also be an added annual fee. And if you’re thinking of getting an electric vehicle, find out how charging points will be accommodated.
3. Looked at the garden – in particular flooding, drainage and topsoil (19%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “These are both common complaints on new build developments. Before buying, ask your conveyancing solicitor to check your property has Building Regulations sign-off for the drainage system. The ground in the garden of new builds is often compacted by machinery and inevitably has some rubble buried beneath the turf. This does impact quality initially but can be improved by adding nutrients and organic matter.”
4. Booked in a a snagging survey (18%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “At the moment, most developers won’t allow buyers access to the property they are buying to conduct a snagging report before completing. You can of course have a snagging survey done at any time once you have moved in, but make sure you get one done early and well before the end of the first two years. Find out more about DIY and professional snagging surveys
5. Visited the property at different times of the day – to check noise, lighting and mobile reception (15%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “Different times of day reveal different things – noise levels, daylight/night-time lighting, roads, weather, mobile signal strength in area, walking distance to local shops, station, security on and around the development, etc.
6. Checked the terms & conditions more carefully (10%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “If you’re buying a leasehold flat then you should ask your conveyancing solicitor to go through your financial obligations set out in the property’s lease. There are three main types of charges: ground rent, service charges and administration charges.
7. Communicated proactively with the developer and get everything in writing (9%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “This is the biggest financial commitment of your life, so don’t assume anything or rely on what you saw in the showroom. Start by asking where the specifications of your specific property are set out, what can be upgraded and for how much. Copy in your conveyancer to ensure everything you ask for is written into your contract
8. Reviewed local development plans (6%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “It’s common to buy on a partially completed development, so you’ll want to ask the developer for their programme of works. But there is no guarantee there won’t be delays. You can also check local area plans and planning applications for your area via the local authority website. 9.
9. Actively choosing the specific home within a development (3%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “Ask if you can view a completed property identical to yours to get a feel for it. If buying off plan, scrutinise the plans closely and ask when you can view the property before completion.
10. Reached out to groups before moving in (2%)
HomeOwners Alliance advises, “These are extremely helpful and may be on WhatsApp, Facebook, on a resident app, or in-person. You can use these to talk with other residents who’ve moved in before you and find out what to expect.

Methodology

Homebuyer regrets
Responses to the question What one thing (or more) do you wish you had known before you moved in? from a dataset of 7,152 Verified Owners on HomeViews were analysed for keyword frequency. E.g. the finding about parking was an analysis of the frequency of mentions of ‘Parking’, ‘Garage’ and ‘Car park’.
Top developers for First Time Buyers
Developers with at least 100 verified owner reviews by those who identified themselves as First Time Buyers across at least 3 developments were analysed. Ranking was established by look at their star rating, after-sales care, delivery quality and owner recommends. All categories were weighted equally.

Top housing associations for shared owners
Housing associations with at least 30 verified reviews from shared owners and with at least 3 developments. Ranking was calculated by looking at the ratings for star rating, after-sales care, delivery quality and owner recommends. All categories were weighted equally.
 
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