What to do when buying an off-the-plan apartment

What to do when buying an off-the-plan apartment

There’s no doubt about it, investing in your first property can be daunting. So after working hard to save your deposit, it pays to make sure you understand the process you’re about to embark upon. We have some tips for things you should start thinking about now, even if you’re not ready to start seriously looking for property.

Location

While you may have an idea of where you want to live, there are more benefits to opening up your horizons. There a whole range of locations with different benefits to each. Assess your needs and lifestyle, and then conduct thorough research to ensure you are fully informed about aspects like nearby transport and local amenities. If you are planning on establishing yourself in your new apartment, it pays to think of the future. Greater options mean greater opportunity to find something that suits your budget and lifestyle.

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1. Think outside the box

There is a whole score of things you should cross off your ‘ideal apartment’ checklist, but these are pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve already found a development you love, assess which side you’d prefer to be on. Wake up with the sun shining through your window from the north-east, or watch the sunset through windows facing the west. And ask yourself if the floorplan configuration will be amenable to your furniture.

With off-the-plan apartments, imagination is required. The renders are a brilliant guide, and usually look like the finished product, but until you can see a display suite or wait for construction to finish, it can be hard to imagine how it will look. Your floorplan will give you a reasonable idea of what to expect of your space, but if you want an interactive experience, visit similar apartments that have already been built and begin to notice how much natural light flows through, and which direction it faces.

2. Property-speak

Get familiar with terms like ‘strata schemes’ and ‘body corporate’. Real estate, both apartments and houses, comes with a unique vocabulary that will be in your best interest to learn. Compile a list of words you don’t understand, and research them so the next time you speak to an agent, you will know what they are talking about when they say ‘stamp duty’.

Learning the lingo

4. Grants and loans

Under NSW government, first homeowners are entitled to receive a First Home Owners Grant (New Homes) Scheme of up to $10,000 on property costing $600,000 or less.

As a first homeowner, you can receive stamp duty exemption through the First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme. For homes under $600,000, you will be fully exempt, while receiving savings or concessions on any property over that price.

You can apply for the First Home Buyers Assistance Scheme to receive an exemption from stamp duty for apartments priced at $600,000 or lower. Or, in another incentive, you can elect to make extra contributions into your superannuation account, as a way of saving for your first home deposit. When the time comes, you can withdraw these savings plus the earnings, to put down for your first property.

The policies change from state to state, so make sure you check your state's government policies.

Friends

5. Get help

It might be tempting to think you can do it alone, but everyone needs help when it comes to the bigger things in life. It is worth speaking to friends and family who have been through the process before and can give you an outsider's perspective.

Research lending policies from different banks, even the ones you don’t bank with personally. Policies change from one business to the next, so find the one a lending policy that suits your needs, then speak to them about your borrowing and buying potential.

If you’re too busy or overwhelmed to deal with the daily research required to find the right fit for you, get the name of a good property manager. This is particularly useful for those looking for property to invest in and then lease out.

Now that you have these handy hints up your sleeve, you are ready to find your perfect new apartment and, hopefully, sign on the dotted line.