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Looking for a new-build home? How to spot a great development - and be first in line for updates

Two experts in the field share their advice.

IN THE CURRENT property climate, new home buyers are often being asked to make rapid decisions on developments as they come to market or risk losing out.

You might already know what number of bedrooms you’re looking for, or have a list of non-negotiables, but how can you best decide which new development is right for you? 

We spoke to Josh Maguire of The House Architects to hear his advice for spotting a great development early on, as well as Glenveagh Homes’ Eamon Gavigan about how buyers can be first in the queue when it comes to new homes.

Here’s what they had to say…

Pay attention to amenities available now – and in the future 

“Every homebuyer will have different needs,” says Josh. “But the location of the development relative to work, shops and schools is always going to be top of the agenda. Developments which are well connected are more likely to mature well. Access to public transport is vital.”

While not all developments can be connected with all amenities, Josh advises finding out if the development is planned as part of a larger framework. “This could include construction of new shops, creches, or even schools. It’s so important for buyers to check out what is actually planned around the development in the context of both long term plans and short term plans. This will help them to appreciate how it’s going to mature over the next 10, 20 or 30 years.”

Ask about green spaces

A big indication of a good development is the inclusion of green spaces throughout, says Josh. “They significantly contribute to the family friendly nature of the neighbourhood. The ability of children to play in the open air and close to home is really valuable. You’re much less likely to get one big green space these days, it’s more likely you’ll get pockets of green spaces which relate to different neighbourhoods in larger developments.”

shutterstock_609344102 Shutterstock Shutterstock

Look for a variety of dwelling types

While you may be only interested in buying a particular house size and layout, Josh recommends keeping an eye out for developments where there are a mix of house types available. This, he says, “helps to foster a vibrant community”.

“Modern housing developments are generally designed with much greater recognition of the benefits of a mix of types, which in turn leads to a mix of profiles.”

Check out the developer’s past projects

If the development you’re interested in is still under construction, visiting a completed site from the same developer will likely give you a good idea as to how communal spaces are maintained and looked after over time. 

“A developer’s track record is a really important indicator of the quality of the development, the quality of the builds and the quality of the infrastructure,” says Josh. “In some cases, the public areas in the development may not be taken care of by the local authority, in which case the responsibility to maintain the streetscape and green spaces goes the developer, or to a management company ultimately. So visiting previous developments by the same developer can help to provide an insight into that.”

Consider the property’s appearance and function long-term

Buying a home is perhaps the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so of course you’ll want to ensure that the materials used will stand the test of time. An example of this, says Josh, is what finish the exterior of the property is. 

“One of the biggest things is look at how it’s likely to mature,” he says. “Obviously a painted finish will have to be painted again in years to come, whereas a stone or brick finish is permanent and doesn’t require maintenance.

“We all know of street scapes where they actually look better now than they did 50 years ago, and that’s because they matured well.”

The potential to extend or convert the attic is another element to look out for here – especially if you’re buying off plans. “Lots of people find that five to seven years down the line they’re expanding or altering their house, whereas if they really really studied it when they’re buying it off the plans, they could have been able to make those alterations at a much lower cost.”

shutterstock_708734296 Shutterstock / Atstock Productions Shutterstock / Atstock Productions / Atstock Productions

How to find out what’s coming up… 

So, once you know what you’re looking for, how do you get your foot in the door of a new development? Glenveagh Homes’ Sales Manager Eamon Gavigan says it’s all down to communication.

For new Glenveagh developments, like Ravens Mill in Rolestown, North Dublin, information is shared on the developer’s website and social media from the very early stages. This is a prime time to register your interest, says Eamon, and allows you to hear in advance about buyer events and new launches. “The early bird catches the worm,” he says.

Once you’ve done that, the agent who’s looking after the scheme will keep you updated on the development’s progress and provide any new information. At this stage, it’s likely that they’ll also ask where you are in the house-hunting process, so have as much documentation and information ready to go as you can.

“We will ask the relevant questions. What is your status? Are you a first time buyer?  Have you mortgage approval? Are you aware of the Help to Buy Scheme? If you’re aware of these things and are ready to go, they’re the words we look for.”

As the development progresses, some of the houses may sell off plans. “If they’re going to buy a property off plan, it means that the show house isn’t built, they can’t go in and walk around and see everything. So they will look at the computer generated images of the house internally and externally, they’ll have a copy of the floor plans. We’d also always encourage them to come and look at another development.”

It may take months for plans of homes within the development to become available, or you might want to wait until you can go into a show home and have a look around for yourself. Either way, keeping in contact with the agent is key, says Eamon. “Drop them an email every month or two months asking for updates. If you have the homework done, you’ll get the result.”

At Glenveagh Homes, our vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to access great-value, high-quality homes in flourishing communities across Ireland. We understand that buying a home is possibly the biggest decision you will ever make in your life – but we want to make it your easiest. Click here to find out more about Glenveagh developments.  

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