Buying off the plan: An ultimate guide

Discover the benefits, risks and key considerations of buying off the plan with our ultimate guide. Get expert advice on financing, due diligence and settlement.

Buying off the plan is a tried and tested system

Buying off the plan has always been a great opportunity for buyers to secure a brand-new apartment at a competitive price because the buying process starts before or while the development is under construction.

With such attractive financial incentives, the potential of capital growth and the first choice of apartments on offer, it’s easy to see why buying off the plan has become a popular option for many Australians.

Michael Stannard, a partner with law firm Mellor Olsson, says there are several benefits to buying off the plan, but most people are attracted by the potential cost savings on a new property. [1]

“Off-the-plan contracts are popular for a number of reasons,” he says. “They allow buyers to secure a property at a lower price than if they were to purchase it on completion and they can also potentially obtain a stamp duty saving [by buying off the plan].”

If you’re ready to buy an apartment off the plan, you’ll need to keep a few important factors in mind. This guide will help you through the whole process from first inspection to final settlement and explain how buying off the plan can work in your favour.

What is the process involved in buying off the plan?

Buying ‘off the plan’ simply means that you agree to purchase a property, as described on the development plans, before the build has finished.

The first stage is to find a development in an area that suits your needs, with an apartment that also aligns with your requirements, has the right kind of amenities and fits within your budget.

Next, visit the developer’s display suite and explore all the available apartment options including layout, size, floor level and outlook. This is a good time to ask about things such as in-house amenities, security systems, strata fees and building maintenance.

Once you have agreed on all the particulars, it’s time to sign a contract and pay a deposit to secure your chosen apartment – usually 10% of the listed property price.

Online lender says buyers should always read the terms and conditions of any contract before signing – and should seek the advice from a third party, preferably a lawyer, before signing on the dotted line.

“New properties generally come with a builder’s guarantee,” it suggests. “How the guarantee works and what it covers varies based on the location of the property, so it’s important to check this element … carefully.” [2]

Benefits of buying apartments off the plan

Aside from having the first choice of apartments on offerthere are also some great financial benefits to buying off the plan:

Fixed purchase price with no market increases

One of the many benefits of buying off the plan is the ability to buy your property at the current market value before it goes up in price. In some cases, your property will increase in value during the  building process —  imagine locking in today’s purchase price but not having to pay your mortgage until the build has finished! Data from CoreLogic shows that apartment prices in Sydney have increased by 12.2% over the past year alone. [3]

More time to save

When you buy your apartment off the plan, you’ll only need to pay your deposit (usually 10% of the full cost) upfront. The remainder isn’t due until the build is complete, giving you more time to save.

Transfer duty and tax benefits to buying off the plan

Many state governments offer incentives for first homebuyers to purchase newly-built apartments, including the chance to reduce the amount of transfer duty you might need to pay. In NSW first-home buyers are exempt from transfer duty on apartments valued upto $800,000, while properties over that value may qualify for a concessional rate of the same duty. [4]

Developer savings and grants

Buying off the plan is a great way to access various government savings and grants for first-home buyers. If this is your first home you could be eligible for the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), while the First Home Guarantee scheme allows 35,000 people to apply for a one-off grant towards the cost of your new home. [5]

Ready to move straight in

When you buy off the plan, you’ll know the colour scheme, flooring and interior style before you move in. This will save you time and money on maintenance, cosmetic changes and any updates – making the move simpler and hassle-free.

What to expect when you buy off the plan

The first step in buying off the plan is to choose a trusted developer with a strong history in high-quality projects, innovative design and excellent customer care. ALAND has an unblemished record stretching back over 20 years, with a 100% completion rate. [6]

When you’re happy with the plans, inclusions, timeline and purchase price, you’ll pay a nominated deposit to secure your purchase and lock in your price. If the property market increases during the build, your sale price will remain locked in at the lower rate.

Some key questions to keep in mind when buying off the plan are:

  • What does the price include?
  • Are appliances included?
  • What happens if the project finishes earlier or later than planned?
  • Can I change anything in the plan, and if so, what?

Where can I buy apartments off the plan?

ALAND has a strong track record of building residential apartment developments stretching back two decades and always has a selection of upcoming developments across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast to choose from. Take a look at our current projects on the ALAND website – these include:

What are some final tips or advice for buying off the plan?

Like all major financial transactions, consumers are strongly advised to do their due diligence before buying a property off the plan. Always take legal advice before signing a contract.

Here is a final checklist from

  • Research the complete history of your developer
  • You are in a stronger negotiating position if you have pre-approved finance already in place
  • Clarify the process of having any defects or damage rectified before you take possession of the property
  • Read the terms and conditions of your contract before signing – seek legal advice if you are not sure of these terms


[1] Mellor Olsson
[3] The Sydney Morning Herald

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