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A beginner’s guide to buying an off-the-plan apartment


For most people, buying a property is a mix of excitement and trepidation but for those buying off-the-plan there’s an extra layer of special.

Sure, there’s a heap of tax incentives that make buying an apartment off-the-plan a great idea, but there’s just something amazing about viewing a developer’s vision, realising it’s right for you, and then watching it come to life.

Purchasing off-the-plan comes with its own regulation and processes. Here’s what you can expect:

1. Research

Whether you’re purchasing a home or an investment property, there’s a lot you need to consider. You probably have a wish list (number of bedrooms, carpark spaces, proximity to transport and key amenities) and a good property consultant can help you narrow down your choices to two or three projects. Researching sales data and information about the suburb can also help you make sure your heart’s delight is also a shrewd investment.

2. Meet the developer

There’s only so much you can learn from artists’ impressions. Visit the display suite to get a feel for the development. At this stage, you might ask to see floor plans and get some pricing estimates. Meeting the developer also means you can get a feel for the project, ask those initial questions and get the information you need to move forward in the buying process.

3. Get your finances in order

A mortgage broker will estimate how much you should be able to borrow. Typically, a 10 per cent deposit is required, but it could be more or less depending on your borrowing history, assets and the amount required.

4. Reserve an apartment

So, you’re in the tricky situation of wanting to buy an apartment but you’re still waiting for confirmation of finance. You’ll need to put down a holding deposit. It’s normally a refundable amount of $1,000 – $2,000 and means that no one else can buy the property during this time.

5. Hire a solicitor

Your solicitor will provide you with a summary of the contract and bring specific dates, requirements, or issues of concern, to your attention.

6. Deposit

Once details of the contract are sorted out it’s time to pay the deposit, which is usually required within 14 days.

7. Building period

Construction time can seem to take forever, but your developer should send you regular progress updates. Settlement can take up to a year or more, depending on the development.

8. Pre-settlement inspections

Once your property is complete, the property consultant will arrange a time with you to conduct a pre-settlement inspection. During the inspection you should note down any defects or quality issues and bring them to the builder’s attention.

9. Settlement

When your loan has been approved and finalised, your lender will liaise with your solicitor and arrange the settlement and payment of the balance of the purchase price.

10. Move in

Congratulations, you’ve just been given the keys to your new apartment! If you are an investor, now is the time to start looking for an agent to manage the property. If it’s your new home, now is the right time to call the movers or start thinking about how you are going to furnish the rooms.

Want to know more?

Do you have more questions about buying an off-the-plan apartment? Perhaps you’d like to find out about something specific. Whatever your query, Future Estate is happy to help. Call us on (03) 9988 2900 or send us a message via our contact form.

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