Updated: Apr 8, 2020
3 main aspects need to be considered when wondering what is the best option for you:
Generally speaking, as soon as the offer you make on an existing property is accepted, you sign the Compromis de Vente, you apply for a loan (if necessary) and within a couple of months, simultaneously you can sign the Acte de Vente and receive the keys.
When you buy off the plans, you have a long wait ahead of you. Not only you must wait for the property to be built, but sometimes you also need to sit through the building authorisation process and the preparation of the infrastructures. Property developers sometimes seek early reservation of units by prospectors in order to secure the bank warranty which they need to cover the building costs.
For each of the 2 scenarios, you need to do the maths!
If you buy an existing property, you must add to the costs of the property and to those of the notary, the registration tax which amounts in most cases to 7% of the purchase price. You may avail of the Bëllegen Akt, which as a couple, could allow you to save up to 40000 euros of those registration fees. All the monies are due on the day you sign the Acte de Vente.
You also need to move out of your previous property within relatively short notice: watch out for the exit clauses within your rental contract or for the possibilities of selling rapidly your own property. You may have little time to get organised properly.
If you purchase a new property, the costs look more attractive at first glance. The registration costs are only paid on the land part; the Bëllegen Akt sometimes cover these costs entirely. The building part is taxed with a 3% vat (up to a saving of 50000 euros) instead of the usual 17% rate. Payments are made in stages over the construction period.
However, watch out for the contents of the Cahier des Charges (the technical specifications) of the build; it often covers for only the basic fittings at a low to standard price. If you wish for more and more up market materials, the costs of the property will escalate. Also costs of kitchen and landscaping are usually not included in the Cahier des Charges so those come as extras.
As soon as the build of your new property starts, you will start paying for it as well as paying rent or a mortgage on your current address. While it is easier to plan your move, also allow for some delays in the delivery of the new property.
The type of property you can have:
Lastly but not least, you must consider the type of property you wish to acquire. Most new properties are sold and built by property developers who deliver standard units which show little architectural and design creativity. For a more individual looking property, you must look for an independent site with no building project already attached to it. These plots are rare but they are also usually larger.
It has become common enough that, in order to secure a brand new build, one buys a derelict property which is knocked down, leaving then the site totally free for a new construction.