Buying off the plan is when the house/unit or apartment has not been built yet or is under construction.
In our investing careers, we have purchased several properties off the plan that have been very successful each time. There are many benefits to following this buying strategy however there are some risks too.
- Lower or alternative deposits – which means you can use a lower cash deposit, a bank guarantee or a deposit bond.
- Maximum tax advantages
- Stamp duty savings in some states
- Redesign possibilities
- Long settlement which allows potential for capital growth
- If settlement is longer than 12 months, then often a revaluation at the current market price can allow 100% finance.
- Opportunity to on sell the property prior to settlement
- Project may not proceed at all
- The finished product may not be what you expected
- Expected capital growth doesn’t eventuate or may fall
- Developer may go into liquidation which stalls the project and ties up your deposit.
As investors we always had our solicitors review the contract however we have found that sometimes they can miss things so as a rule, we generally review our own contracts in addition to the solicitor.
Below is a list of items that we may expect to see as part of our contracts for purchasing off the plan deals:
- Floor plans
- Building plans
- Site plans
- Electrical plans
A detailed outline of fixtures and fittings including the standard of quality – some areas to watch out for are:
- Kitchen cupboard construction
- Exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms
- Heating and cooling
- Floor coverings – type and quality
- Wall finishes – type and quality
- Window dressings
- Garage door – remote or manual
- Letter box
- Clothes line
- Appliances (white or stainless steel) model, standard or its equivalent
- Fly screens
- Security doors
- Lighting and electrical layouts
- Extent of garden beds and lawns
We once had an experience whereby a contract for an ‘off the plan’ property we purchased in NSW had a list of inclusions that included a dishwasher, under sink water filter and power points in the kitchen. Being from Melbourne, we flew upto Sydney for the final inspection before settlement, and we noticed these items were missing however we did not have our contract with us to confirm. When we raised this with the builder at the time he refused to correct any of the above, claiming they were not part of the contract. Upon returning home we double checked the contract which stipulated that these items were included thus the builder was legally obliged to honor the agreement.
Our lesson here was to always take our contracts with us during final inspection prior to settlement and to double check that all the inclusions are actually in the property.
Until next time, happy investing.
Investor and author of 47 Biggest Mistakes in Property Investing and How to Avoid Them.