When buying an off-the-plan home, you typically pay a deposit and settle the balance when the home is built. But off-the-plan builds often take one to two years to complete – and, in that time, your circumstances may change.

Perhaps you accepted a job abroad or you’ve split from your partner and can’t afford to pay a mortgage on your income alone. If it’s an investment property, the property’s value may be in a high-growth phase and you’d like to capitalise on it and reap a higher profit.

The good news is that it is possible to sell your off-the-plan property before it’s been constructed (which is known as a ‘nominee sale’ or ‘nomination sale’). Here are four steps to follow to make sure you get the best result.

1. Check the contract before you purchase the property

Developers don’t like on-selling off the plan properties . Some don’t allow it at all. The clause restricting a resale before settlement may be hidden in the fine print.

That’s why it’s important to scrutinise your contract. It’s advisable to have a lawyer who specialises in off-the-plan properties review the contract before you sign. If you find nominee sales are forbidden, you can take your business elsewhere. However, if you find they’re allowed, you’ll know you have the power to sell your property before the project is completed, no matter what pressure the developer might try to put on you at the time.

2. Choose the right real estate agent

Not all real estate agents are created equal. To give yourself the best chance of selling your off-the-plan property, and for a handsome price, it’s important to choose a quality real estate agent, especially one with off-the-plan sales experience.

3. Invest in marketing

Selling an unfinished property can be harder than selling an established one, because there’s nothing for potential buyers to inspect. So you might need to make a bigger investment in marketing, to help buyers better visualise their future home.

The developer will have marketing material such as brochures and floor plans, which you might be able to use. Other types of marketing material that can help you sell the property faster are:

  • A 3D render. 3D renders create a detailed three-dimensional image of a property. It allows the buyer to see a realistic portrayal of what the finished property will look like. Producing a 3D render can be a costly exercise but can be well worth it, because they make it easier for buyers to visualise what you’re trying to sell them.
  • A mood board. A mood board includes samples of materials and finishes like carpeting, tiles, counter tops, cupboards, door handles and bathroom fixtures. When buyers can see and touch materials, they’ll feel more confident about purchasing the property.

4. Consult a legal expert

Selling an off-the-plan property before settlement is different to a standard property transaction. As a result, the contract legalities and conveyancing process can be more complicated.

Furthermore, as the original purchaser, depending on which state the property is located in and the circumstances of your transaction, you may still be required to pay stamp duty. If you sold the property at a profit, you’ll be liable to pay capital gains tax. If the transaction falls through, you’ll still have to settle with the developer.

Hiring an off-the-plan conveyancer can help you navigate the process smoothly.

Adam Zuchowski is an experienced property lawyer at Off the Plan Conveyancer.

For off-the-plan conveyancing in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, contact us at Off the Plan Conveyancer. Call us on 03 9070 9810. To get a conveyancing quote, fill in this form and one of our qualified solicitors will be in touch.