How to re-sell your off plan property prior to settlement
Sometimes circumstances change. You might have put down your initial deposit with every intention of moving into your new off-plan apartment. But then perhaps you got an overseas job offer that was too good to refuse. Or you found out you were going to become a parent and want to trade that inner-city pad for a place in the suburbs.
If you’re still waiting for settlement, this presents a unique problem. You’re selling a property that doesn’t yet exist. And if there are still units for sale in the development, you could be facing a lot of market competition.
However, all is not lost. Marketed correctly, your re-sale could prove very popular and you could come out even.
The first consideration you should investigate is whether or not you have the ability to re-sell the property. Some contracts do not allow for the re-selling of units to just occur without approvals. It is important to speak with your solicitor and agent before you go down this path.
We have decades of experience selling off-plan so there’s no one better place to guide you through what needs to happen to make your re-sale go smoothly and point out potential pitfalls.
Smart strategy for re-selling before settlement
The formula for a successful re-sale is simple
Time + marketing = successful sale
Sometimes circumstances change suddenly. In most cases, however, you’ll have a good idea whether you can settle six months from expected completion date.
The longer you give yourself to resell the property, the better. As the development isn't finished, you can’t style the unit or conduct open inspections. That means that finding the right buyer might take longer.
If possible, we recommend that you allow up to six months for the re-sale so that it can happen before settlement.
Independent agents are all too familiar with the following scenario: A development is a few months from completion, and a would-be buyer comes into the office. They were reluctant to put down a deposit, or unable to purchase back when the building was first on the market. Now that it’s nearing completion, they want in. Of course, by now, many if not all units are sold and they are left disappointed they didn't get in sooner.
That’s where your re-sale comes in. The agent can offer them something that they wouldn’t otherwise have available. It can be marketed as a unit that was snapped up the first time around and the buyer would otherwise have no chance to buy. Best of all, they don't have to wait out the entire construction process before moving in!
From the buyer’s point of view, a desirable re-sale offers the best of both worlds. They don’t have to wait two years for the settlement to be completed. There's little to no risk that the development won’t go ahead.
What are you selling when you re-sell an off plan property?
First of all, it's important to understand what you’re selling. Because you haven’t yet settled, you don't have the title to the property. What you're selling is instead a promise to immediately sell the property on. Your contract with the developer remains in place throughout this process. You’ll settle with the developer and then immediately afterwards, settle with the new buyer.
The only difference is that you might sell for more or less money than you agreed to pay as a buyer. If you sell for more, you keep the difference. If you sell for less, you are still obliged to pay the initial amount to the developer and will therefore make a loss.
What costs should you consider?
If you’re considering this course of action, it's important to run the numbers. There's no way around it: you will incur some costs if you re-sell.
It may not feel like you’re ever the owner of the off-plan property in question. The law, however, says otherwise. You’re taking ownership of it from the developer, even if you’re only the owner for about half an hour. This means that you still have to pay stamp duty on the purchase.
The developer will not market the property for you, so you will need to use a real estate agent. You’ll have to cover their commission and any marketing costs involved. Some real estate agents specialise in off plan properties and will have come across your scenario before. Don't be afraid to ask for advice.
Capital Gains Tax
If you make a profit by re-selling, capital gains tax (CGT) is payable on that profit at your current marginal rate. Check with your accountant to find out how that will play out if you’re not sure.
The good news is that developers generally don't charge a penalty for re-selling an off plan property.
If you’re coming to Independent for help with a re-sale, we’ll take those costs into consideration when discussing sale price with you.
You’ve signed a contract with the new buyer, but your contract with the developer remains in place. That means that if the new buyer pulls out, you’re still obliged to settle with the developer.
If you’re thinking of re-selling your off-plan property before settlement, talk to an Independent agent. We’ll go through the process with you and help you develop a smart marketing strategy to get the price you need.
Got selling on the brain?
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