Thinking of buying off-plan? Here are our top 10 tips

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Buying an apartment off-plan can often feel like a leap of faith, however, it can be a rewarding experience investment when approached in an informed manner.  

Any trustworthy developer will be able to provide external and internal renders, floorplans, level views, sample finishes, possibly even a display apartment. Some also provide virtual “walk-throughs” where you can virtually look around the apartment to get a sense of space and style. 

Once you’re happy with what you’re seeing, it’s time to get into the detail – here are our top tips to ensure there are no surprises with your off-plan purchase:

1.    Research is your friend. Use the internet to learn about the location, access to public transport, local schools, and amenities. Do some background on the developer. Where have they built before? What’s their record like? Have they been around for a number of years?

2.    Visit the Display Suite. Take the time to visit the display suite or display apartment, if available. This will give you a tangible sense of the project's quality, finishes, and layout.

3. Get your support team in place. You’ll need a lawyer or conveyancer, and a mortgage broker can be helpful to explain the risks and benefits. You might even need a valuation done for your lender. Find out if the land is leasehold or freehold and make sure you know the difference. You can read all about getting your support team in place here.

4. Understand the floor plan. Spend time pouring over the floor plan. If necessary, measure out the room dimensions with a tape measure at your existing property – so you really understand the room sizes. Double-check where the measurements have been taken from as they can differ from internal to external walls. Ask if your unit comes with a car park or if not, a rideshare car for the apartments. 

5. Sound Check. Testing one, two, three. When buying off-plan it’s important to consider the level of soundproofing, not just from neighbours, but also from other potential sources of noise sometimes found in more urban developments. The developer should be able to provide this information.

6. Touch and Feel. Materials are everything with your new home. Ask about the building cladding and construction. While you’re at it, check out the interior finishes, too. See if they have samples. There is no substitute for your own touch and feel. 

7. Understand the chattel list and find out what’s included with the apartment. Anything from washing machines and fridges, to curtains and blinds. Enquire about fitted wardrobes and how the apartment is heated or cooled.

8. All in the delivery. When will your apartment be delivered – and what happens if they are delayed? What are the important dates and milestones? How will the building company keep you informed on progress? Does it have a Sunset Clause – a clause that allows the contract to be cancelled in the event of non-completion by a certain date?

9. Get busy with the Body Corporate. Really read up on the Body Corporate rules and the estimated yearly fees. These are on top of your rates, so it’s good to understand what they cover, and what rules apply. – like no pets are allowed. Read more on the benefits of Body Corporates here.

10. Earlier the better. The sooner you can get the Sales and Purchase agreement reviewed by your lawyer, the better. Ask for one early and give your support team a head start. It may be useful if the SPA provides a Solicitors Review Clause which gives a specified time for you to discuss the agreement with your solicitor before going unconditional.

Buying off-plan isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer to see the finished product before making a decision – whereas others are keen to get in early and snap up the prime positions and any potential market gains by the time the property is ready.  In the end, it all comes down to your personal comfort level. The team at Fletcher Living are on hand to help you – whichever way you prefer to buy.


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