Off-the-plan investments: The devil is in the detail

Look for these functionality features to avoid disappointment when purchasing an apartment that is yet to be built.

julie cumming

Blogger: Julie Cumming, director, Hatch Property

Have you ever been excited at the prospect of a fabulous investment property? You have been given the information pack and there is an abundance of information that looks fantastic. Yet, how do you know what you are really buying beyond the sales hype, glossy photos, illustrations and potential capital growth prospects promised in the brochure?

One of the disadvantages of buying off-the-plan is you cannot see exactly what you are buying in advance. You cannot appreciate the dimensions, aspect and elevation as if it were completed. It is possible to mitigate the risks by taking the time to look beneath the surface, and see past the sales spin.

It is surprising how many buyers of investment properties do not look closely at room dimensions, ceiling heights and the amount of storage the property offers.


It is wise to ensure you check out full-dimension drawings before you sign a contract to allow you to gauge what furniture will comfortably fit. Understand the room sizes so you are not disappointed at completion. If a bedroom is only going to accommodate a single bed comfortably, best you know before you purchase. Understand how large a room needs to be to comfortably fit a double or queen size bed so you know at a glance. Understand the wardrobe configuration; is it just hanging space or are there drawers or shelves, and what material has been used?

Developers will generally spend more money on inclusions that get your attention and make savings on the things that are less obvious. This is not always a bad thing; however, understanding what’s what at the start will ensure you are not disappointed at settlement.

The living/dining area can often look more generous in an image, so understand how much space a suitable sofa and dining setting takes. Have a look at the outside dining area and be aware of the aspect so you can decide if it lends itself to being a “year round” outdoor entertaining area or if it will have significant weather limitations. Does it have gas, power and water connected?

Does the property enjoy enough natural light? Are there plenty of windows that open to facilitate cross ventilation?

Are the bathrooms conveniently located for the residents and visitors? In a two-bedroom unit, it is ideal to have separation between the bedrooms if possible with their own bathrooms attached and one dual purpose for visitors.

Have a good understanding of the laundry and if there is enough room for laundry equipment, like washing baskets, ironing board, vacuum cleaner, cleaning products, etc. Is there suitable linen and general storage?

Look at the kitchen cupboards to see if there is adequate pantry space and storage for all the normal kitchen gear, appliances as well as crockery and cutlery. Are the shelves practical and in easy reach, or are they deep so access to rear is difficult?

Is there a space for the rubbish bins? A pet hate of mine that this essential element is often forgotten.

Understand the quality of the kitchen appliances. This is often a higher spec than the remainder of the inclusions as it is what people focus on. Check the amount of cupboard space and the location of the power points. Is this sufficient and are they in useful locations?

Understand the cooling and heating and consider the suitability of what has been selected. Will it be adequate for the purpose?

Is the bathroom well-appointed or has design sacrificed functionality? Where do you put all your lotions and potions?

Look at the location of the property in relation to common areas to assess ease of access and possible noise considerations. If it is a mixed use development with some retail and commercial space, where are the rubbish hoppers located as they will be emptied in the early hours of the morning, noisily?

Look for features that set the property apart from the others, some unique features that will give it the edge over others when tenants are looking and also at resale time.

While you may feel this detail is unnecessary for an investment property, when you go to sell you will maximise your outcome if you can appeal to the broadest market, which means owner-occupiers and investors.

Do your own due diligence and get quality advice to ensure a more successful outcome.

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