Buying a property that has not yet been built (known as buying ‘off the plan'), may seem like a risky proposition, but it can be a great way to secure the property of your dreams possibly at a lower cost. Buying this way suits a wide variety of house hunters, especially when there is no immediate hurry to move.
There are a number of benefits to buying off the plan…
Firstly, you can lock in the price based on the current market value; hence you may secure the property at a cheaper price. Normally you are only required to pay a deposit to secure the property with the balance paid at the completion of construction, giving you time to organise additional finance or sell your existing property. You may also have some freedom to choose fixtures and fittings. And finally, because the property will be brand new, you also benefit from the seven year builders guarantee which covers structural or interior building faults.
Buying an unfinished property means you cannot inspect what you are getting before signing the contract, therefore there are a number of things to think about.
For starters, it is important that you understand the contract thoroughly and are confident that you know exactly what you are getting i.e. quality of finish, as well as whether the builder has scope to make variations.
You also need to have options in place should construction run either under- or over-time, especially if you have not yet secured finance, or have already sold your existing property. You also need to be aware of what penalties might apply should you choose to withdraw from the contract before completion, and what will happen to your deposit should the builder cancel the contract, or worse, go out of business before construction is completed.
For these reasons it is important that you only buy from a developer with a solid track record, and that you secure a legal opinion of the contract before signing.
First home owners assistance
If the property is your first home, you could be eligible for the First Home Buyers Grant, which provides a cash contribution towards the cost of purchasing your home. You must of course meet the various eligibility conditions, and the amount available varies from state to state.
- In the ACT, NT, Qld, Vic and WA you may receive up to $7000 towards the purchase of a property valued at $750,000 or less, although in WA the value rises to $1 million for properties north of the 26th parallel.
- In NSW the benefit is $10,000 if you buy or build new, but is capped at properties valued at $650,000.
- In SA, the grant is also worth $15,000 for buying or building new and $5000 for established homes – you may also qualify for a Housing Construction Grant of $8500 until 30 June 2013.
- While in Tas the grant is $7000 and is not capped.
Some states also offer stamp duty discounts for properties bought off the plan, as stamp duty is based only on the value of the land and the work already completed. Other concessions may be available, such as in the NT, where the First Home Owner Concession takes up to $26,730 from the duty payable. In SA, if you are purchasing an apartment off-the plan within the city of Adelaide, Park 45 or Bowden Village you may also be eligible for a stamp duty concession of up to $21,330.