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29 Sep 2017

What can you do if your mortgage offer expires?

Find out what happens if your new-build deal lapses before construction is finished

Buying a new-build home can be a waiting game, especially if you're reserving off-plan - but what happens if the build gets unexpectedly delayed and your mortgage offer expires?

First-time buyers at a development in Gwynedd, Wales were recently informed that their homes would now be ready a year later than originally planned - and significantly, two months after their current mortgage offers expire.

Here, we take a look at your options if your mortgage expires, and explain how lenders assess mortgage extensions.

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Delays causing extra expense for home buyers

When you're offered a mortgage for a property you're buying, you'll find that it's generally only valid for six months.

This is plenty of time for most buyers to get their purchases over the line, but it can create difficulties for people buying new-build properties.

New-build homes are usually 'reserved' by buyerswell in advance of their completion - and in some cases before the build has even started.

This means that those who reserve early in the process could see their mortgage offers expire if there are any unforeseen delays with construction.

When this occurs, buyers face the hassle of re-applying for a mortgage, as well asthe prospect of extra application and valuation fees.

Are longer mortgage offers available?

If your development isn't likely to be finished for a long time, you can consider taking out a mortgage with a longer offer period.

While six months is the standard, some lenders offer specialist new-build products that bump this up to nine months or more.

For buyers looking for a safer option in case of delays, these longer offers can provide some reassurance. To take advantage of these deals, you'll need to ask about the length of your offer period when you first apply.

How can you extend your mortgage offer?

If your mortgage offer is set to expire, it's not necessarily the end of the world - buthow difficult and expensive it is to secure an extension will depend on your lender.

Additional application and valuation fees can be a real blow for cash-strapped first-time buyers. Extra credit checks could also pose a problem if your financial situation has changed since you first applied.

David Blake of Which? Mortgage Advisers says: 'Some lenders are much better at dealing with extensions than others'.

'Your financial circumstances can change over time, so while most lenders can extend their offers, essentially you'll almost be re-applying.'

'Lenders will run a new credit check and affordability calculation, and some may also want a new valuation.'

How to minimise the risk of your offer expiring

While you can do little to speed up construction of your new home, there are steps you can take to minimise the risk of your offer expiring:

  • Seek out a mortgage offer specifically tailored to new-builds
  • Keep up-to-date with the progress of the build
  • Talk to your lender if it seems likely that your offer will expire before completion
  • Use a mortgage broker, who canliaise with lenders to ensure your deal has a suitable offer period.

What can you do if there's a problem with your new home?

While many new-build home buyers experience a smooth transition in to their new property, some unfortunate buyers do face issues.

From delays to dodgy fittings, if you're having problems with your new home, check out the full guide by Which? Consumer Rightsto learn more about where you stand.