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Looking for a home in the modern housing climate can be tricky, to say the least. With the continued housing crunch, it’s no wonder people are making creative decisions, determining what it will take to become a homeowner even when there are no ideal homes available within the area they’d like to live. In this environment, it’s no wonder many people are resolving to build on their own land or settle further out into rural regions than they would normally. In fact, the demand for city residences is such that many builders are choosing to construct duplexes and other forms of multi-unit housing to simply relieve the pressure.
Of course, this answer isn’t for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a little elbow room or simply could not settle for a house that isn’t perfect, you may be looking into alternative options to multi-unit living. In part two of our exploration of property types, we’ll cover the risks and rewards of buying “off the plan”, selecting a rural property, or deciding to build something new on your own empty lot.
Buying “Off the Plan”
As buyers clamour for the opportunity to become owners of their own homes, new houses simply can’t go up fast enough. Whole additional neighbourhoods are going up for sale and under construction as development companies and individual owner-builders do their best to provide for the constant demand. However, sometimes a buyer is so eager that they’re willing to shake hands on a property that’s not even finished yet. This is known as buying “off the plan” because an incomplete house cannot officially be put on the market. These properties are often advertised with floor plans and artist renderings because a real inspection and photos are not yet possible.
People buy off the plan for a number of reasons – some of which might appeal to you a great deal – so it’s worth considering if you discover an opportunity. First, buying off-plan costs less in duty tax, determined by the value of the incomplete home when the contract is signed. That said, the closer the home is to complete, the more duty you can expect to pay. Buying off plan also allows you to set a price at the current market value and lock it in when the contract is signed, something that can go either for or against you depending on market changes. Finally, when you purchase an incomplete house, you can exert some control over the finishing touches.
Now that we’ve covered the good points, make sure to watch out for the potential risks as well. Get a definite completion date in writing and hold the builders to this. Lock the plans down or develop a real relationship with the designer to prevent unexpected changes. Get legal advice on all contracts, as off-plan deals are often complicated and based on the completion of an unfinished project and be careful about builder disputes. The builder’s contract is with the previous owner, making some issues unreasonably complicated. You may also have trouble securing financing.
Perhaps you don’t need to be all that close to a city centre. Maybe your job is on the outskirts or you’ve even achieved a remote position so you can work from anywhere. A rural home may be exactly what you’re looking for, far from the bustle of urban life but still close enough to other people to share a grocery store. While the peace and quiet may be nice, there are also some unique concerns involved in choosing a rural property, especially in Australia.
First and foremost, make sure there will be enough drinking water. If the property does not come with a water entitlement, you may not have access to the water you need. Make sure the information you gather includes water accessibility and that the local water corporations are able to supply you. If you plan to use water for more than domestic purposes, ensure that this is covered in your supply as well.
Spend some time on the land and make sure that you can enjoy living there. People who aren’t accustomed to rural areas might be bothered by the noises of nearby farming equipment or particular agriculture-related smells. If you’re fine with these things, your rural property could be an enjoyable retreat.
Next, understand your obligations when it comes to wildlife. You are required to take on some responsibility in terms of weeds and pest animals, and restrictions apply to clearing native vegetation, even on private property. Finally, watch out for proximity to government-owned land, as this could affect what you can do on and around your rural property.
Maybe you’ve looked around your region and not a single home meets your standards of living, or perhaps you’ve always planned on building your dream home and now is your chance. Building on an empty lot is a great opportunity to create a home that is yours alone. It will have all your favourite things about a house, the perfect floor plan, the right ratio of bedrooms to bathrooms, and everything you find beautiful in homes you’ve seen in the past. You can paint it your favourite colours and love every moment living there.
However, all this hinges on the land actually being suitable to build on. When selecting a vacant lot on which to build your dream home, don’t just consider location and price. There are all sorts of things about a vacant property that could make construction costly to impractical.
Start by taking a soil test to ensure that the actual ground is suitable to build on and into. Next, survey for rocks that may need to be excavated or the possibility that you are settling in a floodplain, as both situations could result in extra construction requirements and expenses. Finally, before you buy the land, get an appraisal from a builder who can confirm that the land you’re considering will support the house you want to build.
Between the state of the housing market and your own unique desires, sometimes owning your dream house can take a combination of creativity and bravery. Whether you’re investing in a partial construction, moving out to the sticks, or resolving to start from scratch, just make sure to do your due diligence before putting your money down.
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