Developers are ramping up activity across the country to meet the demand for new housing and we are seeing greenfield sites being opened up by local and state governments, as well as urban revitalisation, which sees factories and storage sites transformed into boutique residential complexes.

In some cities, home owners in growth areas are even joining forces to sell houses in a row, or whole streets and blocks and make the most of the demand from developers.

This is a win-win, because a developer will often pay a premium to secure a large parcel of land at once, rather than having to stagger the purchase of a site over years and even decades as individual houses gradually come onto the market.

That means homeowners can get more than their home might ordinarily be worth and developers can save money over the long term.

The increase in development activity means a lot of buyers are purchasing off-the-plan apartments or house and land packages.

The buildings are brand new, usually located close to the city or in areas where there is enough space for a nice block and backyard, along with parks, gyms and shops to be built into the area, plus access to new or future transport links.

Buyers of these offerings are often eligible for first home owner concessions, depending on your state, which makes them quite sought after…along with the added bonus of having a brand new property that no one has ever lived in before.

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However, when buying off the plan, there are things that need to be taken into account.

After paying a holding deposit, you usually don’t settle until the property is completed, which can give you a couple of years.

By then, you may have already made some equity, especially if the market has grown.

But beware of buying in a falling market, or at the peak of a market, because by the time your property is completed, it can end up being worth less than you paid.

This will mean that if you have to sell, you might not be able to repay the bank.

Ask around to find out which lenders are friendly when it comes to off the plan purchases.

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Many take a much stricter approach since the GFC, when developments in holiday areas such as the Gold Coast actually lost money by the time they were completed.

Mortgage brokers will be able to point you in the right direction.

And, before buying, research the market to make sure prices have not peaked. It can be easy to get caught up in all the hype of a so-called housing boom, but often, by the time everyone cottons on, the chance to secure a value purchase has passed.

Tim McIntyre is the senior real estate reporter for the Daily Telegraph and News.com.au.

Over the past decade, he has attained widespread knowledge of Australia’s many unique property markets and is an authority on all things buying, selling and investing.

His commentary appears every Saturday in the Daily Telegraph Real Estate lift out, as well as online at news.com.au.

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www.news.com.au/realestate

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