Guide to Buying Off-The-Plan Apartments by Perth’s Property Experts

New apartments being built on the corner of Labouchere Rd and Mill Point Rd, South Perth.

New apartments being built on the corner of Labouchere Rd and Mill Point Rd, South Perth.

While there are several great advantages to buying off the plan, buyers must still gain a comprehensive understanding of the development before committing to a purchase, say Perth property experts. With a sharp increase in the number of apartment complexes built across Perth in recent years, local real estate agents like Mark Hay have urged buyers not to rush decisions.

“It is risky if you don’t do the homework and those buying off the plan need to be fully informed,” he said, “People need to think to themselves why they are buying off the plan instead of an established home. When you can’t see and touch something, there is always some risk attached.” The off-the-plan specialist urges buyers to research both development and developer to ensure it’s the right fit.

Seek Local Opinions

Gavin Hegney, an independent property analyst, says it’s vital that buyers contact local experts to benefit from their opinions. “Sometimes people do not understand exactly what they are buying,” he says, making it essential that buyers speak to local real estate agents and local councils to get a feel for the area and see if there are upcoming developments that suit their criteria.

As interpreting a building development from a plan isn’t always easy, it’s “important to sit alongside someone who can interpret what exactly the development entails,” said Mr Hegney, who encourages buyers to consider the timeframes when buying off the plan and use 3D programs to enable them to get a better idea of what they’re buying.  

Advantageous but Risky

The managing director of Momentum Wealth, Damian Collins, says there are many advantages to buying off-the-plan apartments but buyers need to be aware of the risks involved, like buying at the peak of the market cycle.

“In such cases, buyers may find that when they reach settlement at the building’s completion, the value of their apartment may be less than what they’re paying for it,” he said, which “can lead to finance implications, as lending may be affected and a greater level of equity is required to fulfil the purchase.”

Nevertheless, buying prior to construction is a great way to secure an apartment at current property prices without having to pay for it for another two or three years, the usual timeframe involved for the completion of such projects. This delivers benefits such as providing homeowners with ample time to sell their existing home before moving into an apartment that requires less maintenance and having “a choice of colour selections provided by the developer” if buyers purchase early enough.

Mr Collins also spoke of the off-the-plan incentives offered by developers, which “are quite common in today’s market,” he said, “An example of this is a free BMW with The Precinct apartment sales in Mount Pleasant”, with other incentives regularly offered “including kitchen upgrades, furniture fit-outs and guaranteed rental returns for a period of time.”

With the notable benefits to buying off the plan and incentives such as these, there’s little wonder why property buyers are snapping up apartments across Perth so enthusiastically. However, anyone considering an off-the-plan purchase needs to be aware of the risks involved. 

Green and Sustainable Features a Trend Among Perth Homebuyers

Sustainability matters: Jenny Marsh is happy with her recent decision to buy an off-plan apartment in “WA’s greenest” Evermore development in White Gum Valley. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper

Sustainability matters: Jenny Marsh is happy with her recent decision to buy an off-plan apartment in “WA’s greenest” Evermore development in White Gum Valley. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper

Keen to be green is a notable trend among Perth homebuyers, with sustainability just as important as property price and location, claim researchers from Curtin University. This backs up claims by local property experts who say that as homebuyers are increasingly willing to pay higher property prices for eco extras that enable them to reduce their bills, property developers will find it advantageous to cater for this trend as the city grows.

Sustainability Attributes Essential for Perth’s Property Market

Research by the Sustainability Policy Institute at Curtin University found that sustainability attributes are essential for the continued growth and prosperity of the local housing market and that many homebuyers see these eco-friendly features as a notable benefit that will influence their decision to buy. The report involved surveying residents who had purchased new developments across Perth on the factors that influenced their decision to purchase their homes and shows buyers are particularly keen on properties with features that reduce electricity and water costs or enable less car travel.

Producers of the Curtin Report, Jemma Green and Peter Newman, said the local property market was “demanding sustainable dwellings” and despite the insistence of real estate agents and industry bodies, people are willing to pay extra for sustainability options because of the financial and environmental benefits delivered.

“These results suggest that if the market provided more options of housing with sustainability attributes, people would choose them and developers would have a larger range of buyers,” they said. “The findings strongly suggest that as the market offers more developments with these attributes, residents’ demand for them will also increase.”

This, they claim, was evident from the 27 medium-density developments in the mid-price housing range of $350,000 to $600,000 which showed there was a strong market in Perth for eco-friendly features, such as solar power and renewable resources, as well as lighting and water efficiency.

Western Australia’s Greenest Development

The Evermore development by Yolk Property Group aims to be “WA’s greenest” with 24 properties featuring real-time water and power monitoring, leading-edge solar and lithium battery technology along with an electric vehicle charging points and communal bicycles for residents to use.

Jenny Marsh, a Subiaco social worker who purchased one of the White Gum Valley developments, spoke of her ambition to purchase a sustainable property that further enables her to lead a lifestyle that lessens the impact on the environment.  “The aim to be zero-carbon and the use of the shared solar technology interested me,” Mrs Marsh said. “There’s a commitment to sustainability.”

She discussed the green lifestyle she leads and how sustainable properties make it easier for people to reduce their carbon footprint.  “I do as much as possible to reduce my carbon footprint, from recycling water with buckets in the shower to riding my bike everywhere I can. I think a lot of people do what they can, but properties with these things actually built in will make it far easier,” she said.

With Perth homebuyers increasingly keen to be green and developers keen to capitalise on this trend, when can we expect to see sustainable properties become the norm across Perth?

Perth’s First “Micro Lots” to Go on Sale

The first “micro lots”, blocks measuring just 80sqm, go on sale this year and are expected to shake up the Perth housing market. A sign of the times, as many see things, with Perth block sizes rapidly shrinking to suit the smaller budgets and changing lifestyles of local residents.

The first 80sqm blocks, which will be priced at less than $300,000, go on sale in Ellenbrook and are the smallest green-title lots Western Australia has ever seen, though several local property experts have said we can expect to see even smaller blocks in the future. Some confidently predict that tiny 50 –  60sqm blocks could become the norm within a few years.

Shrinking Lots, Growing Interest

In 2016, Perth’s average lot size was 383sqm, significantly smaller than the 2008 average of 525sqm and the 700sqm blocks which were the norm throughout the 1970s. According to UDIA WA chief executive, Allison Hailes, local developers are catering for the needs of lower income earners and time-poor buyers who prefer small lots requiring less maintenance.

The 80sqm lot trial was approved in 2015 and the developer responsible for the project, LWP Property Group, expects construction of the 11 micro-lot homes to be completed about October. Its Innovo village, situated in Ellenbrook, consists of 11 two-storey terrace display homes built on green-title blocks that range in size from 126sqm to 175sqm.

With prices starting from about $320,000 and floorplans reaching up to 200sqm, the project is generating significant interest despite street frontage as narrow as 4.5 metres. Property experts like Ms Hailes believe interest in the micro lots, which are new to Perth, would gather momentum. “Once the community can see how good developments can be on smaller lots I expect interest in them will then start to grow more rapidly,” she said.

A growing trend that many have noticed is that people are happy to forego a big backyard if it means they have better access to public amenities and spaces. As LWP managing director Danny Murphy says, “It’s a bit like inner-city living but on the fringe,” who went to on to say that lot sizes will continue to shrink in size, “We’ll start with 80sqm … but we’ll get down towards 60sqm — I think in the next three years you will see that in Perth.”

How small is 80sqm?

How small is 80sqm?

That view is shared by other local property experts, like Brad Thompson whose Perth-based business, Thompson Sustainable Homes, was involved in the Innovo village project. He’s of the opinion that Perth would soon be like Queensland and the Eastern Seaboard states where blocks are as small as 50sqm, “That’s where the future will be heading in WA.”

Local homebuyers like first-homebuyer Natasha Bederson, who bought an Innovo off-the-plan terrace home, cite the ease-of-maintenance, price and absence of strata fees as factors that attract them to micro lots. With more people moving to Perth, a growing population and sluggish income increases, micro lots could be exactly what the city needs to ensure everyone has the ability to buy a property and have a place of their own to call home.

The guide to estimating space when furniture shopping

When it comes to buying furniture, it is best to be prepared. While we are all prone to impulse buys every now and again, buying furniture that is the wrong shape or size can lead to major headaches down the road.

Not measuring properly is one of the most common mistakes made by people when it comes to furnishing their home. Buying furniture that is too large or too small for your living space can look unsightly and is often impractical. Here are five key tips to help you buy the right furnishings for your home.

Measure Your Space

The first thing to do when buying any piece of furniture or appliance is to measure the space it is intended for. Once you know the exact length, width or height available you can begin to plan the furnishings that will fit your available space. Be sure to measure any alcoves or nooks as well to ensure the perfect fit.

Doors and Stairs

While you may have ample space inside your home, remember that you have to get the furniture into the house in the first place. This can be an issue with prefabricated furniture and it is one that is easy to forget. Doors, windows and stairs are the most common “tight spots”, so be sure to measure these and any furniture you consider buying first. Also remember to take account of light fittings and ceiling fans to avoid any accidental damage.

Maximize Your Space

While it may be tempting to splash out on a spacious sofa or king size bed, you should only do so if they fit comfortably in your home. When it comes to buying furniture, it is best to consider all the factors. For example, will the sofa allow enough space for end tables? Will the coffee table make the room too cramped? Or will the bookcase block a window? Taking a holistic approach to furnishing you rooms will ensure a more comfortable living space.

Power Outlets

While most modern homes are fitted with plenty of intelligently placed power outlets, it is important to keep these in mind when buying furniture or planning the layout of any room. TV stands, desks, end tables, bedside tables and any piece of furniture that will have a lamp or electric appliance will need to be placed near a power outlet if you wish to avoid using unsightly extension cables. Also ensure that larger items like beds, sofas and bookcases will not block any power outlets.

Be Inventive With Your Storage Space

Storage can take up a surprising amount of space in any home and can quickly become an issue in smaller apartments and houses. Open and closed shelving on walls can help you clear up a lot of the clutter in your home. It is also worth considering multi-functional furniture, such as beds with storage drawers that can help you save on storage space.

At Furniture Fitouts, we are committed to providing high quality furniture solutions for every room in your home. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

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