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MMS Briefs: Buying off the Plan

I am buying off the plan. How do I know what I am buying?


Buying a home is often described as one of the most stressful times in your life. At the same time it can be exciting and completely nerve wracking. Most of us only buy a home a few times during our lives, if that. The banks, the agents and lawyers sometimes seem as though they are talking in a different language to the one that we thought we had mastered.

But buying “off the plan” has a particular set of stresses! “Off the plan” purchases have received some adverse publicity of late because of “dodgy” developers and seemingly innocent buyers feeling that they have been ripped off. There is no doubt that an “off the plan” purchase can cause even more headaches for the unwary and uninitiated buyer than a usual purchase of a home or block of land.

The Department of Fair Trading describes “off the plan” purchases as ones where “you are paying for a property where the end product may not only differ from your expectations but be worth less than you have paid by the time it is finished”. An “off the plan” purchase is one where the land or home/unit you are buying has not been registered with NSW Land Registry Services at the time you enter into the contract with the seller. The seller still has to register the plan and or build the home or unit on the land – hence the term “off the plan.”

The solution

Whether you are a first home buyer or a seasoned purchaser of the real estate understanding what you are buying, the rights each party has to get out of the contract and the time allowed to build are just some of the crucial matters with an “off the plan” sale or purchase which will be contained within a contract.

You should always obtain the best advice that you can regarding any contract but particularly an “off the plan” purchase where there are usually so many terms and conditions which may not be clear or are simply convoluted or complex.

The NSW State government has been so concerned about problems with “off the plan” purchases that from 1 December 2019 a new set of protections for purchasers are being introduced where it will be compulsory under the law for sellers to make certain disclosures for the benefit of buyers. These reforms will assist a purchaser but you will need a lawyer who is able to ensure that the proper disclosure has been made and one who is able to explain the ins and outs of the “off the plan” contract in plain English.


Greg Moin, a principal of Moin Morris Schaefer, has been assisting and advising clients, both buyers and sellers, with “off the plan” contracts for many years. Greg is up to speed with the latest State government reforms in this area and will be able to advise you clearly and concisely regarding the contract and your rights and obligations under it.

Greg’s details are:

02 6772 4899

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