Nicole Brotherton: Are you considering buying a property off the plan? Hi, I’m Nicole Brotherton. I’m one of the lawyers here at Turnbull Hill Lawyers and I’m in the property and business team. When buying off-the-plan, it’s important to remember that it’s very different than buying something that exists. You can’t walk into the property, inspect it and see exactly what you’re buying. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what’s in the contract that you’re about to enter into. One of the advantages of buying off-the-plan is that you are buying at what is perceived to be now the current market price in the hope that by the time you have to settle on the property, the capital has risen.

One of the disadvantages in buying off-the-plan is that you can’t see exactly what you are buying. Also, there can be delays in the construction of the build, so it can take longer than you anticipated, there can be issues with council approval or other circumstances which mean the developer may not even proceed with the development. When buying off-the-plan, it’s essential that you do your research. You should do research on the current market and how that market’s performed over the last 10 years or so to get a good indication of whether this will be a good investment for you.

You also need to research the developer and builder where possible. Have a look at the recent developments that they have done and how successful they were. It’s essential that that plan outlines not just your unit but also any storage spaces and car spaces that go with your unit and their size. Almost all off-the-plan contracts have a clause which specifies how much the lot space can vary. It’s important that your solicitor negotiates this clause to ensure that the variance of size of your entire lot area is as minimal as possible.

Another important thing to consider is the schedule of finishes and inclusions that are contained in the contract to make sure these are of a quality that you expect. You want to make sure if you’re promised a Miele dishwasher that you don’t arrive at your unit and have a cheap interpretation of that. It is critical to ensure that any promises that are made to you by the developer and the agent are included in the contract. The contract forms the entire agreement between you and the developer. If the promises that you have been given are not included in that contract, you can’t rely on them.

Finally, it’s important that you are kept up to date with the progress of the development. We recommend that you keep in close contact with the agent that’s handling the development and, of course, your lawyer will also keep you abreast of important dates along the way.

If you are thinking about purchasing a property off the plan and would like more information, please contact our expert property team at Turnbull Hill Lawyers.

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