Buying off the plans makes sense for first-time buyers

Often, first-time home buyers focus only on stand-alone homes with a bit of a garden and a garage. This selective view of property can mean people will be further away from the city centre, public transport, good restaurants and shopping. An affordable housing solution, either in or near coveted areas where a traditional home would be out of reach from a cost perspective, are apartments. This is especially true in places like Newmarket, Parnell, Ponsonby, the Wynyard Quarter or the CBD.

Buying off the plans could be for you!

When considering buying property for the first time, you should not overlook the option of buying off the plans. Not only would you get a brand new property built to the latest building codes, but the price is fixed at the time of purchase. You also get the opportunity to buy into an exciting new development or precinct. Tenants love new-builds, so buying off the plans is a great investment choice too.

However, not all developments are created equal and there are many options to consider. Think about how close you are to local amenities, cafes, shops and education providers. A good example of this is the Wynyard Quarter which is an exciting suburb close to all of the action and the CBD. This is especially true since the recent opening of the NZ$1billion retail precinct of Commercial Bay, just a short walk away. 

Construction of 30 Madden Beaumont apartments by New Zealand property development and investment company Willis Bond, has just begun. The success of phase one where almost 100% were sold, makes it a great case study and proves that people are finding apartment-living in this precinct a great option. Investors, empty nesters, young families and professionals are now calling apartments home.

At a glance, when considering buying off the plans, these are the boxes you need to tick before you make a deposit:  

  • The size, quality, location, views and carparks.
  • Experience and track record of the developer. 
  • Who is the main building contractor and what experience in apartment construction do they have. 
  • Make a list of must-haves. The larger the apartment in more desirable locations, the higher the price. Carparks are usually an additional cost.
  • The quality of fixtures/fittings, wardrobes, floor finishings, balconies, parking and communal spaces.
  • Make sure sound-proofing meets the minimum standards for New Zealand (has to meet the building code).
  • Double-check the actual square metreage you will have. Remember this will include ‘waste space’ such as hallways and cupboards.
  • Consider light sources. Will there be plenty of natural light? What about the sun? 
  • Think about your views now and in the future. Obviously the price will increase as the view gets better. Will your apartment be blocked by a future development?
  • Thoroughly investigate the body corporate; check that the annual fees are realistic and will cover expected maintenance.
  • Get good independent legal advice. Make sure there is a solicitor's approval clause in the contract, and if not, ask for it to be included. 
  • Ask about security features.

So many reasons to look to apartments 

Apartments often offer stunning views. Another reason to consider an apartment is the many amenities that you can enjoy such as pools, playgrounds, spas, gyms and more. Having this inside your building can save you money on monthly memberships and other fees. Often you will be closer to work, possibly even within walking distance or a short commute by bus or train.

How does apartment ownership differ from stand-alone?

It’s pretty simple. Traditionally, when you buy an apartment you will have unit title ownership. A unit title property means you own a defined part of a building and share ownership of common areas i.e. the lobby, stairwells or elevators, with other owners. You also own what are called ‘accessory units’ such as your car parks(s), your storage area or a private courtyard. Items like this must be specifically mentioned in the record of title.

How do things work with other owners?

As a unit title holder you automatically become a member of the building’s body corporate. Decisions about certain aspects of the units and common property are made by the owners, who work as a collective as part of the body corporate. The body corporate is responsible for a variety of financial, management and administrative decisions. Owners pay annual levies every year, so make sure you have a good understanding of the amounts before you buy. These fees enable the body corporate to fulfil its commitments to the unit title development. For example, the levy might cover maintenance, insurance and utility charges for common services or common areas.

Low-maintenance living

With high-rise living there is not the same level of maintenance as a stand-alone home.  There are no garden beds to tidy, gutters to clean, trees to prune or lawns to mow. Instead, you can spend your downtime doing what you really want to do.  Plus, since most high-rises are of newer construction, you will have less mechanical, structural and plumbing problems than an older property.

Want to find out more about apartments in Auckland and Northland. Check out our current listings on our website.