Top 5 Things To Watch Out For When Buying Off-The-Plan 

 March 30, 2021

When purchasing property there is a lot of research that needs to be undertaken to ensure that you’re making the right decision. As part of the planning process, you’ll undoubtedly encounter many developers. The media has portrayed some developers to be dodgy operators out to take your money and run, leaving you high and dry with a big debt and no property. However, we are here to debunk this common misconception and help you see all the red flags. It’s important to know the truth behind what is being sold to you and that you can trust your developer. Despite what the media portrays, not all property developers are going to go bust and run away with your money. However, you do need to be aware of some of the signs of a dishonest developer. To help you understand what to look out for, we’ve put together the top five things to consider when buying an off-the-plan development.

Do Your Diligence

The developer’s reputation is even more important when buying off the plan, as you can’t see the finished product before you sign for it. Make sure you’re buying from a trusted developer who has a reliable track record. If this looks like just a one-off development or their first time, do some more research on the company, see who they are collaborating with in terms of architects and builders and if those sources are reliable and experienced. Otherwise, if you can not find much information on them then alarm bells should be ringing!

Companies should be able to provide you with evidence of their past projects, you know they have nothing to hide and can be considered as a trusted developer. If they don’t have anything to show, take that as a warning sign and don’t rush into anything. 

Do your research and check up on past projects, it will save you in the long run. Here at Cornus, we’re not shy to repost our completed projects on our social media channels, because hey, they’re pretty amazing!

Cornus Surrey Hills- Completed Q4 2020

Expectation Vs Reality

Make sure you know everything about the apartment you’re signing for. Be sure to check the included features, amenities, and the suburb before signing that contract. What’s the best way to do this you ask? Well, head on down to the display suite! Online pictures and descriptions can be different from the real thing and display suites can show you the apartment in a tangible way. They can also help you judge the quality and standard of the apartment. If the developer does not offer a display suite visit, that is an alarm bell for many reasons. Firstly, they may not have any fixtures finalised and that in itself is concerning. Secondly, it minimises your opportunity to get an understanding of the location and decide if that suburb is for you. Our display suites are located on-site, giving you the opportunity to visualise the surroundings and check out the neighbourhood.* 

Lack Of Communication 

Communication in any sort of relationship is key to a strong foundation. Working with a developer that maintains constant communication builds trust. This sort of communication is crucial for off-the-plan developers, as purchasing an apartment is a huge investment for buyers to spend on an intangible product. Communication is also vital in sharing any concerns you have with your developer so they can be addressed. So check out their website and their social media to see if they are keeping buyers up to date on what’s going on. If they’re relatively silent, this could be an indication that when you sign the contract, things might go awry. When conducting your research, if you aren’t seeing or receiving any communication this should be a red flag. 

That’s why at Cornus, we recognise the importance of keeping you in the loop. You can always check out our blog and socials for regular updates on what we’re working on, as we know transparency is key. Our progress blogs will let you see how our projects are going so you don’t have to worry about a thing. Our sales team is always by the phone, ready to respond to questions and expressions of interest within 24 hours. You can feel confident they’ll be able to answer any of your questions or concerns. 

cornus camberwell december update
Cornus Camberwell December 2020
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Cornus Camberwell March 2021

Embedded Networks

If your apartment development offers embedded services, you are probably going to be paying more for your internet and electricity. Embedded networks will see everyone in the apartment building being connected to the same electrical wiring. This usually happens when the developer sells a contract for the whole building to a single supplier. History has shown that you could be charged up to 36% more when going through an embedded network. Furthermore, not being able to pick your own provider means you may be locked into a contract that offers poor service or has connection issues. At Cornus, we know how important the right service for the right price is, which is why we don’t lock you into any electrical or internet embedded networks. You can sign up with the provider that suits you, so you get a fair price and exactly what you want. 

Expensive Owners Corporation fees

Every apartment owner has to pay Owners Corporation (OC) or body corporate fees. The amount will be dependent on the number of amenities in your building and how efficiently the OC is run. These fees are supposed to help maintain these amenities such as service lifts, clean common areas, and maintain the overall aesthetic of the building. If your apartment complex has a pool or gym, your fees are going to be very very high. Unfortunately in Australia, this is completely unregulated and owners corporations can charge as much as they like. When purchasing your apartment take into consideration what amenities you need and whether these will be worth the increased fee. At Cornus Developments, we don’t include amenities such as gyms and pools that are often unused by tenants. Instead, we focus on location, so if those amenities are something you want, you can choose to join a local club at a cheaper price rather than paying an inflated fee for something you might not use and is run inefficiently. 

So, as you go about your hunt for the perfect off-the-plan development, keep these five tips in mind. They are often an afterthought, but they should be something you’re always considering during your search. Also, remember if it seems off it probably is and go with your gut! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. More importantly not every developer is bad. Happy house hunting!! 

If you think an off-the-plan apartment is right for you, check out our Malvern East II, Burwood La Frank and our newly announced Carnegie project here at Cornus Developments.

*Please note that the display suite location is dependent on the number of projects we currently have under construction.

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