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What to Ask When Buying a New House or Land Development

By George Hadgelias

Taking the plunge and buying a new house or land development requires skill, a good amount of research and a savvy sense, no matter what your circumstances.

For most people, buying a home, regardless of whether it’s a new build or an existing property, is a huge financial and emotional milestone.

But what do you need to consider when it comes to making such a big financial decision; and how can you make the most of the process so you’re best placed to make the right call?

Here are some questions to ask as you research the options when it comes to purchasing a new house or land development.

1. What should I consider about the location?

It’s long been a famous catchcry of the property game – ‘location, location, location!’ But does it really matter? According to Dr Shane Geha, managing director of rezoning company EG Advisory and Professor of Practice (Engineering) at the University of NSW, location should be key to your decision-making.

“One of the most important things I tell clients and friends when they are considering buying a new property is to buy the location,” he said.

“Always consider this simple concept – buy the worst house on the best street that you can afford. Alternatively, buy in areas that have great gentrifying potential as they provide the best value proposition in the long term. For example, consider buying in a cheaper suburb such as Moss Vale, instead of Bowral.”

And Dr Geha said it’s important to consider the prospective neighbours and neighbourhood too.

“Remember in real estate that ultimately you are buying the neighbours. The better they are, the more harmonious your life will be and the more money you’ll make in the long run, if that’s your goal.”

2. What makes this place stand out?

We all like something a bit special, right? So, it’s worth applying this line of questioning to your potential property purchase as well.

Dr Geha suggests asking yourself what the allure of the house or land is and if there’s something different that makes it stand out from the rest.

“One of my key considerations when looking to buy a new property is does it have any unique or charming features,” he said. “Does it have spectacular views, special character or unusual features?

“This isn’t always possible, but I think homes with character are ultimately more interesting and liveable for the longer term. Also homes with views of parks or water that can never be built on will always hold special value.”

3. How much flexibility will I have when it comes to the design?

Many house and land packages have specific conditions in the contracts and these will vary depending on the developer or builder.

Drew Glascott, General Manager of Sales at Metricon, said it was important to ask lots of questions when researching the process in order to gain a solid understanding of how much leeway you will have in tailoring your house and land purchase.

“There’s a whole range of questions that are good ones to ask, there isn’t a bad question when it comes to such an important process,” Mr Glascott said.

“It’s always good to get an idea of how much flexibility you could have with floor plans, facades and upgrades, and how much these would cost.

“If you’re new to the process I would also recommend asking some basic questions around the build process, just to get familiar with important aspects such as build timeframes or any other part of the process you’re unsure about.

“Do as much research as you can before you start the process. The more you understand about your budget, needs and wants, the smoother the process will be.”

4. How can I get an idea of what my new home might look like?

It’s important for buyers to physically view a a display suite before purchasing to get a true feel for their new home.

As some Australian states continue to navigate the challenges of lockdowns and COVID restrictions, visiting a display home may seem out of reach for some prospective buyers.

But many developers and builders have formulated virtual tools that allow prospective homebuyers to experience a property without having to physically visit a display site.

Stockland offers 3D virtual tours on its website where homebuyers can virtually ‘visit’ display suites and homes online. Stockland has also introduced Dreamcatcher, an innovative online tool that combines design concepts with real-life images that buyers can browse, share and pin onto style boards.

Sophie Pickett-Heaps, Co-Head of Design at Stockland, said the tools helped buyers better visualise and experience what their future home could be like before they commit to building.

“Based on Australia’s most popular interior design styles, buyers can navigate through Australian home design trends, and immerse themselves in these spaces via 3D virtual home tours and guided videos,” Ms Pickett-Heaps said.

“Unlike other design inspiration platforms, Dreamcatcher users can be safe in the knowledge that all pinned designs and features are of genuine, affordable, master builder designed homes.”

Metricon offers a similar online service, as well as in-house advisors who can share knowledge about whether land availability and pricing as well as design trends to suit your lifestyle.

“All of our display homes have 3D virtual tours on the Metricon website, so I would highly recommend going through the display home before you visit,” Mr Glascott said.

“This will give you a good idea of what you’re about to look at and an overall idea of the quality Metricon has on display.”

5. Do I need to consider potential growth in my decision-making?

Dr Geha said it was worth doing your sums before committing to a house or land purchase, not only to make sure your investment is in sync with your budget but to scout out potential growth.

“If you are considering buying a new house with land, or just a plot of land by itself, remember that land goes up in value over time whilst dwellings lose value through depreciation,” he said.

“So, the bigger and more expansive the land you purchase, the better the long-term prospects for capital growth, should you decide to sell in the future.”

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