Living in a unit or townhouse is sometimes the preferred option for those who enjoy the convenience and lifestyle that comes with living in the inner-city or town centre areas. In these areas, we are seeing a growth of development activity, leading to an increase of units available to purchase ‘off-the-plan’.
Buying a property off-the-plan is when you enter into a Contract to purchase property before the building is complete – and in some cases, before construction even begins.
There are many reasons why buying off-the-plan would be a good option for some. A few benefits include:
- The property would be brand new! For good reasons, many people buy off-the-plan so that they can enjoy the benefits of living in a brand-new home. Seller’s will also provide a defects period, allowing Buyers time live in the property and note down issues/defects they want the Seller to attend to.
- You will have time to arrange your preferred finances prior to settling. Many people know where they want to live, however they may require a bit of extra time to save more equity to put towards their loan. Buying off-the-plan will allow you this time.
- Flexibility in unit design. Sellers may allow modifications to the unit finishes, inclusions, and layout of the floorplan. This is great if you are wanting to add a personal touch to your home.
- There are Stamp Duty concessions available when buying an Off-the-Plan property. In the ACT, there have been recent updates in the available concessions for ‘owner-occupied’ off-the-plan purchases. This concession provides NIL Stamp Duty for owner-occupied off-the-plan purchases entered into from 1 July 2021, with a purchase price of $500,000.00 or less. For more information visit the ACT Government Website.
However, there are risks to consider before you decide to exchange on an ‘off-the-plan’ Contract. Some things to consider include:
- Committing to buy a property that hasn’t been built. Although there will be artist renditions, plans, lists of inclusions included in the Contract, or even a Display Suite. At the end of the day the property isn’t built and you won’t have the chance to inspect the finishes, or quality of the overall build prior to exchange.
- Off-the-Plan Contracts include a clause allowing the Seller to make alternations. This includes making substitutions to inclusions or building materials, alterations the layout, and reducing the size of the unit (by no more than 5%), without your consent. These alterations are made when the original plans don’t comply with codes and regulations set by the government, or any other relevant authority. Another scenario is that your unit could be removed from the proposed plan due to amendments to the other unit layouts.
- Delays in completion.While a Seller has provided a date they anticipate the property will be built, there is always a chance of delays. Reasons for this include: setbacks in financing the build, delays with construction, or delays with approvals from authorities. If there is a delay, the Seller may opt to extend the date– sometimes extensions can be up to 24 months. Usually there is no option to terminate until the Seller exhausts the period they can extend the completion until.
- Excessive outgoings.Some off-the-plan developments come with many amenities, including some that you don’t necessarily want. This could be a pool, spa, gym, tennis court, or numerous outdoor entertainment areas. These amenities will need to be serviced and maintained at the combined expense of all the owner’s in the building. So even though you have your own gym membership, or you’re not a keen swimmer, you will have to pay for the upkeep of these amenities, and the cost can be substantial.
As you can tell from the above, there is a lot to consider when purchasing a property ‘off the plan’!
It’s imperative you choose a team of property solicitors and conveyancers that has experience in dealing with ‘Off-the-Plan” properties. Our property team has extensive experience helping Buyers with their Off-the-Plan purchases. With our help, you can be assured that you are given the best advice and all the information you need to make a decision on whether off-the-plan is for you.
If you are looking to purchase a property off the plan, please get in touch.