Negotiating with developers

When buying off plan, buyers often focus too heavily on price alone, and forget the other factors which can add value to the property purchase.

We recently bought a flat off plan for a client in Camden, and although he had a specific budget, we were able to use it creatively. In this particular case, we selected an unreleased unit which the developer agreed to sell to us ahead of the release date. However, the apartment we wanted was over budget. So, whilst our client did exceed his budget, we were able to get quite a lot thrown in – and this is where it helps to know what else can be on offer from the developer, overtly or covertly.

Because we had to offer over the £1m threshold which incurs an extra one percent stamp duty, we asked if the developer would pay the extra percentage, to which they agreed. We also insisted on having a storage unit in the basement included within our purchase price, valued at £10,000 each. On top of that, we wanted to turn the 3 bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom apartment and, whilst the developer couldn’t do so themselves due to planning permissions, we agreed that they would remove an en-suite bathroom and give written permission for the additional bedroom to be removed on completion, and leave extra wood planks in the flat for us to lay where the partition wall was to be removed. This was all on top of the £100,000 we negotiated off the asking price.

Developers will generally drip feed their apartments onto the market, releasing them in phases, but if you know the developer or the selling agent’s new homes team, you can often get around this and take your pick. Also, most developers are concerned with the headline selling price so, even if you’re unable to negotiate a discount off the asking price, remember there are lots of extras you can negotiate to be included within your purchase. Some developers will even provide whole furniture packs and free Oyster cards or gym membership to sweeten the deal.

The only incentive I would be wary of is using their solicitor, at their expense, as I always prefer to have an independent act solely for me. Apart from that, negotiate away!

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